“Graceful Evangelism” by Adeney

Subject: Religion
Pages: 5
Words: 1430
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: PhD


There are many religious and theological books whose authors try to introduce their points of view and prove the correctness of their chosen position with the help of personal examples of the evaluation of literature. Such approaches can be used by students to learn the world and the fields were chosen for consideration. It is hard to understand the correctness and appropriateness of the material if the reader does not have the required portion of knowledge but wants to be familiarized with the world of religion and its possible impact on human lives.

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Therefore, people make use of different reviews and comments left by those, who have already learned the subject and have the required portion of knowledge. In this paper, the book «Graceful Evangelism: Christian Witness in a Complex World» by Frances Adeney and its main arguments will be analyzed. The critical review also aims at evaluating the challenges the author may face in her discussions and the lessons the reader may take from this book. Adeney is a careful writer, who is ready to start with the basics to prove the correctness of her thoughts. Still, her main task is not to impose her opinion. She tries to describe her vision of the relations between people and the church, the essence of evangelism, and the activities of people, their lives, and their attention to evangelism and its power is one of the possible methods that cannot be imposed but has to be accepted.

Basic Arguments of the Author

The book under analysis is divided into four main parts in which the role of evangelism on people is discussed. One of the strongest features of the book is the attempt to cover the past, present, and future issues. For example, to prove the logical necessity of her thoughts, Adeney starts her discussions with clear and informative descriptions of what the term ‘evangelism’ means, what people should understand by the word ‘church’, and when people find themselves religiously dependent (Adeney, 2010, p. xi). At the same time, evangelism is a practice that has been popular in many countries. It means that not only timing frames should be considered. Certain attention should be paid to the cultural aspects that may predetermine the spreading of evangelism and Christianity. The possibility to the current knowledge about evangelism and use it to comprehend future relations with other religions is another powerful aspect of the work.

Adeney discusses the evident change of the Christianity context (p. 86), consideration of present realities (p. 145), and minimization of the assumptions of past realities (p. 59). In other words, historical events and previous prejudices may be regarded as one of the possible means to comprehend how powerful the term evangelism is today. Still, it is not the only option to rely on. Sometimes, it is enough to look at the present world and apply the term evangelism that has been given by the experts. Though Christian traditions have come from the past, there is no need to live in the past but try to live with the past. This idea is one of the main arguments developed by Adeney in the book. She explains that all people have access to an abundant life and, as everything in this world has its beginning, such kind of life begins with good relations with God.


Taking into consideration the powerful aspects of the book, there are several facts about evangelism the author seems to be challenged with. First of all, Adeney begins her discussion with the idea that to protect religious freedoms, society wants to remove all Christian references (p. xii). At the same time, people want to believe that they are under the protection of supreme power. The diversity of religious views may challenge many authors. However, Adeney is not afraid of challenges but tries to clarify every detail some provocative questions and giving informative answers that should make people invest more time in thinking about their relationships with religion. For example, people may ask “Why are you blessing us with such goodness?” The Christians answer by saying, “God is blessing you and we are participating in the work God is already doing among you.” (Adeney, 2010, p. 135).

Second, to deal with a variety of options and opinions, Adeney offers three categories according to which evangelism may be defined: inclusive definitions, ideological definitions (the evaluations of different religious groups are considered), and lifestyle definitions (the activities and thoughts of ordinary people are used as the basis). Another challenge that is observed in the book is the quality of knowledge about religion that people have or, to be more exact, the shifts in the ways people understand others (Adeney, 2010, p. 144). The limited nature of human knowledge influences human faith considerably. Besides, people should deal with many challenges when they decide to develop new movements and religious organizations (Adeney, 2010, p. xvi).

Finally, Adeney (2010) is not sure if such intentions to promote change can be beneficial for people, who “see by a poor reflection as in a mirror in … understanding of God” (p. 61). Can it happen that people are not ready for changes they try to launch? Could it be that people do not know how to treat evangelism and Christianity that entails that they do not know how to treat their changes? These are the main arguments the author is challenging in her book.

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Interests in the Perspectives of the Author

Though I am not fond of educative religious literature due to the fact that I believe that people are free to make their decisions using their knowledge and experience, I find the work by Adeney rather interesting for two main reasons. First, the idea that religious preferences of people depend on the changes they have to survive (Adeney, 2010, p. 105) attracts my attention. Because changes may vary considerably and touch upon different spheres of life, it is captivating to investigate how religion may be transformed because of the power of personal changes.

Adeney (2010) promotes the idea of hope that lies in evangelism (p. 22). People who support evangelism should never lose hope for a better life, trustful relations, fruitful activities, etc. The possibility of providing people with hope is probably the only explanation of religion, and evangelism in particular, that I can accept and support. People should not be misinformed that they can achieve a lot with religion. At the same time, they should not lose hope to be saved with the help of religion. Hope is the only evident result religion can offer to people. However, people are always free to create measurements of their hopes. Such attitude enriches religion and makes it intimate and immense at the same time.

Another interesting aspect of Adeney’s discussion is the consideration of the individualistic turn that has to be made in a complex American society. The US example of how religion can be treated regarding the individualism of the culture proves that religious interpretations may undergo some manipulations. People have a right to share their opinions to continue believing in evangelism or another form of religion and stay loyal to their interests and preferences.

Personal Criticisms and Agreements with the Author

«Graceful Evangelism: Christian Witness in a Complex World» is a book with several interesting and controversial issues. On the one hand, I would like to agree with the author that evangelism is one of the possible ways to provide people with hope that may considerably improve the quality of human life. On the other hand, I do not want to believe that evangelism is the only correct option that can be available to people. There are many other religions and religious groups that help to find peace and develop trustful relations with God.


In general, Adeney’s «Graceful evangelism: Christian witness in a complex world» is a captivating book about how people should think about religion and evangelism, in particular. Christianity plays an important role in the lives of many people. Still, religion does not only provide people with the required explanations and all answers. It creates the requirements and rules that have to be met by society. People should know how to use their experience and knowledge to use religion for some personal benefits. The most important lesson that the reader can take from this book is that it is wrong to impose evangelism, as well as other types of religion, on people. It is more important and effective to make people come to evangelism personally and accept all its beauties and challenges individually regarding personal readiness and preferences.


Adeney, F.S. (2010). Graceful Evangelism: Christian witness in a complex world. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group.