I will not attempt a thorough review of the book. Here are a couple posts from my blog that I put up as our elder team was going through it:
First post: We are concerned for a greater external focus in our congregation. The chapter we read last pm is entitled: "Earning the Right to be Heard." Whereas many evangelistic texts or theories begin with an evaluation of the target audience, the authors are quite clear that evangelism begins with a change in our hearts. Since this book is focused on being a spiritual influence at work, the emphasis is on the kind of person we are at work. The author(s) note:
"Will rational arguments pacify negative emotions? Will preaching biblical exposition reduce anger or bitterness? Will persuasion penetrate a hard heart? Perhaps, but not as often as you may wish. However, a nonmanipulative relationship with you--where a non-Christian respects you and experiences love and acceptance--can plow thorugh even the hardest soil. The groundwork for this day-to-day ministry in the workplace always starts with the condition of our own hearts--not the hearts of our coworkers."
This chapter emphasizes five areas that require our utmost attention if we are going to build a trusting relationship in which we have the right to be heard:
1. competence: the pursuit of excellence in one's daily work
2. character: even if people hate what we believe, they will be attracted by Christ's character in us
3. consideration: how we treat people--authentic communication (free from gossip and criticism), careful listening that seeks understanding, and a life that exhibits grace
4. communication: wisely speaking the gospel to ready hearts, not ambushing the disinterested. Share your faith when it 1) arises out of relationships naturally built around your work with another person, 2) naturally fits into the topic of conversation, and 3) when you are asked
5. courage: "The desire for safety stands against every great and noble endeavor" (Tacitus)
Easily read, harder to live. Get a copy and read along.
Second post: Last night our elder team completed the fifth chapter in "Going Public with Your Faith" by Peel and Larimore (Zondervan, 2003). The chapter, entitled "Keep it Simple," emphasizes engaging in common courtesy in the work place versus adopting techniques and strategies in order to share one's faith.
The authors point out that scripture commands us "to be a witness," not to engage in "witnessing." The first viewpoint implies the results are up to God (we live the faith), the second that results are up to us (we try to convince others). The text quotes John Fischer (Fearless Faith): "When witnessing is a verb, it becomes something we do or don't do. We turn it on or we turn it off. It becomes a segment of the spiritual compartment of our lives, as in prayer, Bible study, going to church, and witnessing--a very small segment. It's something we are supposed to go out and do, and poor, unsuspecting non-Christians often have to bear the brunt of our spiritual obligation."
I came away with a couple observations: 1) this is a tremendous relief for believers who think they need to engage in a "gospel sharing" conversation in order to be an effective witness; and, 2) this is an incredible call to seamless Christian living at home and work--living that is genuine, deliberate, and committed to demonstrating our faith over the long haul of relationship building.
Here is a list of common courtesies the author's recommend:
-remember an employee's, customer's or client's name--and their spouses too
-remember an employee's, customer's or client's birthday or anniversary
-sincerely listening to the response when you ask someone, "How are you?"
-asking a fellow employee if you can get them something (coffee, etc)
-leaving a larger-than-expected tip for the waitress who regularly serves you
-helping a co-worker fix something at home
-sharing your knowledge with someone who needs it
-going out of your way to express appreciation to others
-asking meaningful questions about things important to others and then really listening to the response
These are small things, but they help build a relationship of trust. God may allow us to share out of that relationship our faith in Him.