In Evangelism: For the Care of Souls, Sean McGever reminds ministers that announcing—and reannouncing—the good news of Jesus is central to pastoral care. In this brief interview with McGever, we discuss the reasoning behind writing the book.
Lexham Press: What is the story behind Evangelism: For the Care of Souls and what is the basic thesis?
Sean McGever: The reason I wrote this book is because no other book explores evangelism through the lens of caring for souls – not only the souls of others but also, my own soul.
LP: What do you hope your book contributes?
McGever: I attempt to:
- Correct false beliefs about the role we play in evangelism
- Reveal the key skill for effective evangelism
- Simplify our messaging when sharing the gospel
- Recalibrate evangelism to the realities of how long effective evangelism requires
- Call Christians to repent of the fundamental sin they commit in evangelism
- Engage the complicated emotional experience of the pastoral work of evangelism – the feeling that people’s eternal life hinges upon our evangelistic performance.
LP: Why do you write? Not just this book, but in general.
McGever: I write to share my insights and explore the questions I have from decades of ministry and teaching theology.
LP: Share with us something surprising about yourself that only your friends would know.
McGever: Many of my friends know that I love Microsoft Excel – which turns out to be a dangerous passion as an evangelist because evangelism isn’t about numbers.
In this excerpt from Evangelism: For the Care of Souls, McGever presents a vision for evangelism that is central to pastoral care.
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist,” says Keyser Söze in the movie The Usual Suspects. I argue one of the greatest tricks the devil ever pulled was convincing Christians they only need to hear the gospel once. The pastoral practice of evangelism has eroded into a skeleton of itself and seemingly only has relevance for our skeleton days too. Evidence of hit-and-run evangelism is rampant. Many people have tucked into their back pockets what they think is their “get out of hell” free card to retrieve later. Other converts were sold an evangelistic bill of goods that makes promises for God that God never made. Ministers often have the difficult task of going backward with converts to retrace their initial steps in order to move forward into the life of faith. When ministers do this repair work, the evangelistic task is not finished—instead, it repeats. The devil never takes a day off. Like the roads in my city, repair is needed constantly. The church requires a revival of lifelong evangelism to nourish the souls God brings into our midst. The Lord gives us the great privilege of announcing and reannouncing Jesus Christ, the word of God, as the good news.
Pastors have at their disposal a myriad of words to care for souls. The announcement that the crucified Jesus has been raised from the dead—Jesus is Lord of all—is the balm, ointment, and cure for our hearts throughout life. This announcement is central to the beginning of the Christian life: Christ carried our sins to the cross and conquered them through his resurrection. Our baptisms remind us of this. This announcement is central to the life of faith; whatever our path, joy, or trial, Jesus is Lord.
Our regular partaking of the Lord’s Supper reminds us of this. This announcement is central to the end of our life: our resurrection day awaits, as it did our Lord; our funerals celebrate this fact. Evangelism is not a special task outsourced to a unique group of people, though it can be. Evangelism is not a one-time confrontational conversation, though it can be. Evangelism is at the heart of the ongoing work of pastoral care, inviting outsiders into the flock of the church and reminding insiders of the heart of the ongoing life of faith.