Leonard Sweet’s newest release, Nudge: Awakening Each Other To The God Who’s Already There (David C. Cook, 2010) will make you fall in love with evangelism again. Or more likely, for the first time.
Many of us who follow Jesus have been exposed to evangelism as hard-sell, complete with tips and techniques. Or it’s a scary guilt trip, as in “I should do this”, or its corollary, “You’re going to hell”. Or we lean into the hopeful, beige-tinted “I hope they ask why I’m different”.
Leonard Sweet wants us to know that evangelism is so much more than a single-dimensional program, a guilt trip or a wish. The title Nudge sounds like it might shrink evangelism to little more than a tiny shove in the right direction, but Sweet’s book is a celebration of evangelism in ways that most of us have never explored. He believes we’re to become students of the world around us – the world God in which God placed us – and learn to “read” the signs and symbols around us in order to speak to those around us. He translates the work of Umberto Eco (and others) in the study of semiotics into the language of the kingdom of God in an accessible, winsome way:
“Nudge evangelism is the planting of seeds. With a motivation of love, nudges meet people in their context and nourish their souls in some way. As in Jesus’ parable of the seeds, planting frees us to be extravagant in love, yet leaves the results for God to germinate and grow. Nudging is an open-ended enterprise God may undertake directly. God may use others, and time and circumstance to grow. Or God may even employ a continuing involvement from us. The main thing is that nudgers are free to love without consequences. Nudgers are free to invest in the lives of others through the generosity of life as a conduit of love from God…Nudge is a a call to evangelize life and to face death so others may live.”
The first section of the book explores what it means to pay attention in order to both witness and to bear witness. The remainder of the book invites us to realize how God moves and speaks through each one of our senses. Sweet’s playful, encylopedic presentation is meant to both spark our imaginations and provoke each one of us to action in our own context through word and silence, touch and taste, scent and sound.
Nudge is great news about the Good News. This is a rich, lovely, inspiring read – and one that connected me more fully to my own humanity, to the One who made me, and to the world he loves. Highly recommended.
*A review copy of this book was provided me by The Ooze Viral Bloggers.