Review: Just walk across the room
The number of books written for Christians about how to share their faith is testimony to both how important we consider evangelism to be, and our concern with our lack of success and/or effort. Sensitively acknowledging this whilst presenting an accessible and biblical way forward, Bill Hybels’ Just walk across the room should help many who are eager to fulfil this essential part of their calling, or at least want to want to.
Built around his concept of “Living in 3D” (develop friendships, discover stories, and discern next steps), Hybels is both inspiring and practical. The promise of unsurpassed excitement as we go on faith adventures is held tantalisingly before us, and shown to be within our grasp. He also shows that ‘success’ in evangelism is more about the process of a person coming to faith than simply the moment they are converted. His seemingly limitless collection of personal stories about how he practises this can seem overwhelming but should serve as an encouragement that the Holy Spirit is not looking for experts but willing volunteers.
Taking that willingness he then focuses on three key elements of evangelism:
- Genuine care for people and a desire to know them better.
- Asking the Spirit to give you opportunities, and learning to cooperate with Him in those moments.
- Having clarity on how to share your story and the gospel.
Hybels’ hope is to make this way of living your way of life, and not an occasional add-on. This is a real challenge because any ‘walk across a room’ involves steps of faith. But that is what God has called us to, in every aspect of our lives. Ask yourself the question, ‘What did I do today that I couldn’t have done without the Spirit’s help?’ I think that the more we learn to obey God, (in personal evangelism particularly) the longer our answers will become. This is what Christians are called to: life that is actively dependent on God.
He is refreshingly honest about the need for Christians to prepare and work hard to be good witnesses. He isn’t looking for witnesses to become lawyers but to think about how we relate to people, and how we relate what we know and have experienced.
As someone who believes that the Holy Spirit wants to equip His people not only with discernment and the right words to say but demonstrations of power (Acts 1:8), I would have liked to have read more about this. That’s not where Hybels comes from so I had to be content with content that is challenging enough for someone who found that title itself a little daunting.
Sometimes the style of the book irritated me: repeatedly addressing the readers as “friends”, applying American cultural preferences and terminology to theological statements (though I think this is a legitimate teaching device), and I was concerned with the occasional sense of Jesus being presented as some kind of fairy godmother (to use J.I. Packer's phrase) rather than Saviour for sinners.
That all being said, Hybels believes in Jesus Christ as the only Saviour of the world, that we are saved by grace through faith in substitutionary atonement from an eternity in hell. And boy (as he might say), does this all motivate him! The triumph of Just walk across the room is that he shows how all of us can play our part in God’s great plan.