Review: Evangelism in the Inventive Age by Doug Pagitt

Evangelism has become a dirty word to some people and cultural changes are happening across the world, ones that I would normally label as ‘postmodern’, which raise new problems with how we share the Christian message. It’s these issues that Doug Pagitt tackles in his new book Evangelism in the Inventive Age.

‘Inventive Age’ is what Pagitt uses to describe the cultural shift we are experiencing – a new era that follows the ‘Agrarian Age, the Industrial Age and the Information Age’. For all the talk of ‘missional church’ and ‘evangelicalism’, how can we possibly tell people about Jesus without sounding like we’re bible-bashing, forcing people into a mold they don’t want to be in? Pagitt’s suggestion is that it is resonance that best describes what we aim for when we are evangelizing – not conversion. The key to this kind of resonance is framing the good news of Jesus in a way that connects with people, and Pagitt looks at this from two perspectives. Firstly, a very contemporary idea, the enneagram is used to show the primary passions and fears of the nine types of people it describes. Each of these is embraced by the good news, each of them has ‘points of connection’, resonances with the biblical story. Secondly, Pagitt looks at eight ‘vignettes ‘ (or stories) in Acts that show the values in evangelism that he suggests are appropriate for the Inventive Age.

This is the fourth book in Pagitt’s series on the ‘Inventive Age’, which I found out is actually aimed at church leaders. At about 110 pages it’s not a long or difficult read – Pagitt doesn’t presuppose that you’ve read all his other books or studied theology for decades to understand his references. This means that it’s very accessible to a wider audience than just church leaders – anyone with an interest in sharing the good news of Jesus who finds that it’s not as easy in 2012 as just pulling up a soapbox in speakers’ corner.

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