From The Abundance of the Heart: Catholic Evangelism for All Christians


Cottrell, Stephen
Darton, Longman & Todd (2006)
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When I was a political activist, we always found it difficult to persuade people to come out canvassing; they were frightened that they would be asked questions to which they did not have a ready answer. It was futile to point out that the objective was simply to establish a voting preference and that the last thing we wanted was political dialogue which would damage the canvass coverage.

Mission is rather like that; we all know we need to do it but it frightens us almost to death, conjuring up images of trying to sow seed on the stoniest ground, usually in the kind of bleak housing estates we usually avoid except, of course, when canvassing!

Bishop Stephen Cottrell's book on evangelism is anything but fearsome; it is faultlessly sequential, starting with the necessary pre-conditions within our churches for evangelism, establishing a theology and then describing a logical process, illustrated with examples.

Because the evangelical enterprise is for all of us, this book is for all of us; there will be leaders with special gifts and responsibilities but we should all pray, put the gospel of Christ before our personal liturgical and social preferences and nurture those who want to travel with us. And there is the clue: Cottrell says that a very few people experience a sudden moment of conversion but research shows that most people come to Jesus as the result of a long journey.

This book provides a welcome explanation of evangelism from a catholic standpoint but it will be useful for churches from all Christian traditions. The language is direct, the opinions balanced, the illustrations low-key and the conclusions firmly grounded.

Overall, the one fact that struck me was how much effort we will need to make for so few who actually complete the journey; but, then, if we are involved, those few will become many.

Study Notes

The following are my reference study notes which are not a comprehensive survey of the book but concentrate on those aspects which are particularly oriented to evangelism, e.g. I do not annotate the substantial section of worship:


Please select a section:

  1. Study Notes: Introduction
    Defining Terms (pXI)
  2. Study Notes: Part I
    God's Vision for An Evangelising Church (or Whose Church Is It Anyway?) (p3)
  3. Study Notes: Part II
    The Ministry of Evangelism (p35)