Share Jesus without Fear (Book Review)

Bibliographical Entry

Fay, William and Linda Evans Shepherd. Share Jesus without Fear. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 1999.

Author Information

William Fay once measured success by a long string of impressive personal achievements. Strangely, though, he found no inner fulfillment in the midst of his “success”. This life came to an abrupt halt when he was arrested for running one of the United States’ largest houses of prostitution and faced with the possibility of a lengthy incarceration. This arrest became the catalyst in a chain of events leading to the ultimate turning point in his life. Shortly thereafter, he surrendered himself to Jesus Christ and enthusiastically began using his God-given talents to share the Gospel with others. He estimates that he has personally witnessed to over twenty-five thousand people and has been teaching others his no-argument approach of sharing one’s faith since 1981 (p. 195). In addition to reaching people through his books and speaking engagements, Fay also hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show. He is a 1987 graduate of Denver Seminary (p. 195).

Content Summary

In Share Jesus without Fear, Fay seeks to help abolish the church’s “sin of silence” by providing Christian readers with a practical, scriptural, non-antagonistic method of sharing the Gospel with others in the hope of helping those readers become obedient to God in fulfilling the Great Commission. Fay begins by using his own story to illustrate the importance of telling people about Jesus, indicating that, although he was witnessed to a number of times over the years without accepting the message, he never forgot any person that shared the Gospel with him (p. 2). His message is simple: Christians are not responsible for turning a person’s heart toward God. That is up to God. The believer’s role is to obediently share the faith and live his or her life authentically for Jesus (p. 3).

One of Fay’s primary concerns with the contemporary church is that it is filled with people who spend most of their time talking about the lost rather than to them (p. 8). His goal is to bring more people into the latter category by raising their awareness of the sin of silence, which he likens to denying Jesus, much the same as Peter did in the biblical account of Matthew 26:69-75.[1] He contends that a person who is not sharing his or her faith is not truly living a healthy Christian life and he calls on readers to evaluate themselves and make the appropriate changes (p. 9).

Before describing his approach to sharing the Gospel, Fay briefly answers common fears people have about witnessing. From worrying about their lack of knowledge, to fear of rejection, to being afraid of what friends and family may think, Fay provides counterpoints to consider, often supporting his ideas with Scripture. He is then set to offer readers his own method for their consideration, which has taken many of these fears into account.

Fay uses questions he calls “conversation joggers” to initiate a discussion with a stranger and eventually segue into any or all of his five “Share Jesus” questions, effectively turning the conversation to the spiritual. He describes the importance of not actually answering a person’s response to the questions, but instead being an effective, empathetic listener (p. 33). Fay’s idea is to get the responder to a point where he or she is willing to allow the believer to share some passages of Scripture. He stresses the importance of two scriptural principles when sharing the Gospel; that is, having the lost person actually read aloud the key verses being shared and then having that person describe what the passage means (p. 42).

The passages of Scripture are designed to take a person through the Gospel message and up to the point where he or she understands what is required in order to be saved. Fay recommends having a properly annotated “share Bible” for this particular use (p. 43). He provides examples of conversations to have with the reader in order to ensure the message is fully conveyed as one leads a person through the passages. Additionally, he offers a helpful and comprehensive list of common objections, along with suggested responses to them (p. 81).

Fay devotes one chapter to bringing a person to a decision for Christ. In it, he stresses the importance of ensuring that the person understands the message. To this end, he offers a set of questions to ask in order to gauge a new believer’s comprehension of the Gospel (p. 69). The following chapter covers necessary steps to take after someone makes the decision. In it, he stresses getting the new believer started properly, including assigned readings from the Bible and connection with a local church.

The final chapters of the book discuss the importance of developing and cultivating lasting relationships with non-believers and provide instruction on how to pray for the lost. Fay believes that living an authentically Christian lifestyle is key to making inroads with this generation’s non-believers (p. 126). He ends by exhorting readers to answer God’s call to live a life completely devoted to Him, which includes actively sharing the good news to a lost world. The book closes out with some helpful appendices that elaborate on key items Fay discusses in previous chapters, as well as a brief account of his personal testimony.

Evaluation

            Fay succeeds in presenting a convincing argument that the ability to share one’s faith is both accessible to all believers and commanded of them by God through His Word. He is able to assuage the fears of many would-be evangelists by offering a presentation method that is direct, yet thoughtful and respectful of the non-believer. His approach relies firmly on the biblical promise that faith comes through hearing the Word, and he places the believer appropriately as the Holy Spirit’s facilitator.

A key strength of Fay’s method is establishing a relationship of empathy with the non-believer. It is attentive, compassionate listening to a person’s responses throughout the dialogue that aids in bridging the gap between secular conversation and presentation of the Gospel. His selection of scriptural passages is not unique and he is not altering the ultimate message. Rather, Fay provides a path toward sharing Scripture that is founded upon being a good listener and avoiding distracting arguments. In a postmodern world, more people process reality through the heart rather than the head. Fay’s method recognizes this and promotes the importance of attentiveness to the specific needs of the non-believer.

Additionally, Fay does well to not assume that believers with varying levels of biblical knowledge and apologetics training will be equally capable of employing his method. To that end, he devotes a considerable portion of the appendices to introducing common objections and providing thoughtful responses to them. While the list may not be entirely comprehensive, it does serve to get readers thinking about these topics and will perhaps lead them to seek more biblical and apologetics training in order to polish their skills.

One particular area of concern, though, in Share Jesus without Fear is Fay’s excessive examples of people, including himself, practically employing his method. While he states near the beginning of the book that one should not be disheartened when a person does not respond favorably to a presentation of the Gospel, almost every one of Fay’s examples throughout the book are favorable responses. Further, as he is relating these stories, the book seems to digress into a “buy more of my product” sales pitch.

One of Fay’s key themes is being obedient to God and that success is simply sharing one’s faith. However, his examples could be seen to convey otherwise. It may, in fact, lead to readers who employ his method feeling as though they have failed if they do not immediately see results similar to those exemplified throughout the book.

Another weakness of Fay’s method is in his apparent presumption that all of his readers are good conversationalists. In his life before Christ, Fay was a highly successful salesman. His ability to initiate conversations and have effective communications with others, including being receptive to other people’s needs, may have been developed and polished over time but is most likely a God-given talent that he has always held. He is now using that talent quite effectively. However, many people do not share this ability and have great difficulty communicating with others. Fay seems to brush right past this with a few remarks about God being able to use even poorly executed sharing of His Word (p. 18). This may ultimately be true, but those who lack this particular capability may find it quite upsetting if they continually stumble through conversations without improvement and see no real results from their efforts.

As noted in 1 Peter 4:10, each person is given particular talents which he or she is to use in serving others. For those who are not great communicators, it may have been appropriate for Fay to offer training plans to improve in this area. Rather, he essentially dismisses a legitimate fear that many people have of talking to strangers and, in doing so, fails to effectively address a key obstacle that many will face in attempting to employ his method.

The above weaknesses notwithstanding, Fay’s book provides a fresh, contemporary method for sharing the Gospel with others in a manner consistent with the challenges of a postmodern society. When compared with many other evangelistic methods, it stands out as being friendly and relational without diluting the ultimate message. It is highly recommend for believers who are looking for an effective way to begin sharing their faith more openly. Additionally, it is well suited as a church discipleship study. This writer has personally applied Fay’s method and can offer that the presentation format was quite simple and able to be carried out in a polite and respectful manner through the entire Gospel. Ultimately, Share Jesus without Fear reminds believers that they are called to share the Gospel of Christ with the world and offers a method that has proven to be effective for Fay and many others in doing just that.


[1] William Fay, 6. Fay contends that, while people may not claim to not know Jesus as Peter did, they often effectively deny Jesus by never talking about Him with others. Thus, they deny Him by their silence.

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