Book Review: “Share Jesus Without Fear” by William Fay

Bibliographical Entry

Fay, William. Share Jesus Without Fear. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1999.

Author Information

William Fay’s background is rather atypical for a Christ-centered evangelist and author. Having grown up in a wealthy home, Fay entered adulthood dedicated to the pursuit of money and power. He was a gambler and a scheister, always climbing the corporate ladder, always making new, more wretched friends. He joined the mob and opened “Fantasy Island,” a massive house of prostitution. But three wives and several arrests into life, William Fay knew he lacked something great in his life: inner peace. It took Fay several years after first hearing the Truth of Christ to finally submit his life to the power of the Holy Spirit, but by God’s grace, he did so in March 1981. Since that time, he has switched his life-focus from money and power to evangelism and a life after Christ. This book is his own testimonial of the simplicity of sharing the joy of salvation with absolutely anyone you meet.

Content summary

William Fay has developed a simple, distinct plan to move any conversation in the direction of the gospel, and he has one reason for doing it: obedience (3). Obedience is Fay’s keyword in evangelism. One evangelizes, because Christ commands him to. A person does not overly concern himself with results—with whether or not the individual to whom he’s witnessing makes a decision—but only with whether or not the evangelist is obedient to Christ’s command (143-144).

Fay splits his no-fear evangelism plan into three parts: five Share-Jesus questions (34-36), seven Share-Scripture passages (46-51)  and five Commitment questions (62-63). Each of these elements requires just one thing from the evangelizer in order to prove successful: silence. Silence keeps the believer’s own personal ideas and views and argumentative leanings away from the conversation, and it keeps the non-believer’s heart open and ready to hear nothing more than the pressing of the Holy Spirit.

The five Share Jesus questions (34-36) are designed to convince a person of their where they truly stand when it comes life after death, and they need not come in any particular order. They can be implemented into just about any conversation with little effort, and they are as follows: “Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs?” “To you, who is Jesus Christ?” “Do you believe in heaven or hell?” “If you died, where would you go?” “If what you are believing is not true, would you want to know?” With these questions, the one evangelizing guides the unbeliever into a non-confrontational yet spiritual discussion.

The seven Share-Scripture passages (46-51) are used to bring a person to the realization of their need for a Savior.  The Scriptures are as follows: 1) Romans 3:23. 2) Romans 6:23. 3) John 3:3. 4) John 14:6. 5) Romans 10:9-11. 6) II Corinthians 5:15. 7) Revelation 3:20. When going through these Scriptures with an unbeliever, Fay reminds his readers to keep silent, let the unbeliever read for himself, and answer their questions and objections with little more than, “Read it again.”

The five Commitment questions (62-63) bring a person to the front step of decision. 1) “Are you a sinner?” 2) “Do you want forgiveness of sins?” 3) “Do you believe Jesus died on the cross for you and rose again?” 4) “Are you willing to surrender your life to Jesus Christ?” 5) “Are you ready to invite Jesus into your life and into your heart?” As a believer evangelizes and asks these questions, he will comprehend the non-believer’s desire or uneasiness. Not all questions are required, but the acknowledgments are.

Following these five commitment questions, if the Lord has been working and the person has responded, Fay suggests ten more simple things to ask of and say to the new believer (71-79). These simple comments and questions get the person to repeat what exactly has taken place in their heart and let them know that the believer who has just led them to the Lord cares now about their growth and discipleship in Him.

Towards the end of his book, Fay also offers a chapter of thirty-six common objections people will make, and possible responses we can have ready to combat these excuses (81ff). These common points of objection often pose great roadblocks for Christians because, on the surface, they seem too difficult to answer. A few examples of these objections are: “I’m not ready.” “My friends will think I’m crazy if I accept Jesus.” “What about my family?” “I’ve done too many bad things.” And “I’m having too much fun.” (82-83). However, while these objections may seem difficult to answer, Fay encourages us to take them head on, not allowing the Devil to steal a soul from God because of our own insecurity.

Evaluation

While some weathered Christians may look at William Fay’s gospel presentation plan as over-simplified, the majority will not. In simplifying the delivery of the gospel message for young and old Christians alike, William Fay brings the gospel back to the simplicity of the childlike faith of which Christ spoke in Mark 10:15, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” Evangelism requires few words (33): it ought not be as difficult as people make it, because the gospel message itself is not difficult (Romans 10:13). And while some Christians go through life always fearful of what might happen when they open the conversation up to spiritual things, William Fay meets his goal in teaching those who read his words that, if they are obedient to God’s call and Christ’s command (Matthew 28:19-20), they cannot fail, for God desires obedience, not necessarily success. This is his intended message, and he succeeds in getting that point across.

As guidelines for evangelism, Fay’s stages hit the mark squarely. He does not imply that his specific wording is required, nor does he say that a person witnessing needs to ask all his questions or use all his verses in any particular order. He just tells us to make the message clear and easy: by harnessing the needs of the unbeliever with the simplicity and clarity of the gospel, a person can direct any conversation into an eternity-changing one, the whole time keeping his own opinions and arguments to himself (63).

Besides the questions mentioned above, Fay also offers examples of sub-questions and comments that help clarify a point. For example, questions like, “Why would God let you into heaven?” (35) and “Who taught you first to lie?” (94) bring the conversation to a point where a person must admit that his sinful nature and that he is depending on something other than Christ to save him.

Sub-questions and comments that keep the conversation on the gospel and prevent the evangelized from jumping down a subject-changing rabbit trail also stand out. When a person rejects Christianity based on prejudices against Almighty God or the Bible, an evangelizer can have answers ready to combat these false ideas. For example, when a person says that the Bible has too many errors, a believer can kindly respond with a request for him to show from the Bible just one error, or else they can move on (43). And when a person seems like he might want to talk but also seems to have put up a spiritual barrier, a question like, “Has anyone ever told you the difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus Christ?” (140), can become a veiled opportunity for the evangelized to actually request the plan of salvation.

Fay’s observation of Romans 3:23, a key point in his section on sharing scriptures, stands out as an incredible explanation of the utter holiness of God. He notes that the word sin is singular, lacking an “s.” His implication is that one single sin will separate a person from God and send him to Hell, not just a life of sin (47). This observation alone is enough to convince many unrepentant souls of their sinful natures and ultimate need for a Savior.

In his section on commitment, Fay revisits an objection common to the skeptic: “If God is so great, can He create a wall so strong that He can’t break it?” (This comment is similar to many other skeptics throw out there, like, “If God is so great, can He create a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it?”) In either case, the skeptic thinks he has caught the believer in a contradiction of God’s character, for he sees that a person must admit that God is not all-powerful and therefore not worthy of worship. But not so, as Fay points out in his response: “God has already created a wall like that. It’s the human heart” (59). God would never do something against His nature, and He is not going to bust into a person’s life unless that person invites Him in, as Revelation 3:20 suggests (51).

In his book, Fay also cunningly uses various statistics and quotations to help support his ideas. One striking statistic that ought to change how every believer views an encounter with an unbeliever is that it takes an average person 7.6 times to hear the Word of God before they make any decision to follow Him (11). Also the fact that merely 17 percent of all new converts come to a saving faith in Christ through the ministry of an “event” (12). This information ought to encourage a believer that simply inviting a person to church or to special meetings may not be enough to reach their inner being. Instead Fay implies throughout his book that personal conversations, chats, comments, encouragements, notes: these are the tools that Christians can use to reach the heart of the unbeliever.

This leads to Fay’s brief yet powerful discussion of lifestyle evangelism. He describes such an integrity-filled life as one that follows daily the example of Jesus Himself (127; Colossians 2:6; I John 1:7). To explain how such a lifestyle can actually reach the lost, William Fay  quotes St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words” (22).

Overall, William Fay’s gospel presentation plan, if implemented fearlessly, has the potential to win many souls for Christ. Weaknesses arise, however, when a person first uses this plan. First of all, if a person has not studied the Word of God for very long but has instead depended on memorizing the “scripts” in Fay’s book, he will very quickly find that Fay’s suggested plan is not exhaustive. He will meet people who do not respond to the initial five questions the way he expects or who have objections quite different than those postulated in Share Jesus Without Fear. In such cases, the believer will feel lost, inadequate and gravely discouraged, and possibly filled with more fear than he had before he read the book. Thus, the emphasis on such a detailed plan with suggested scripts could possibly prove to have a negative impact on an unbeliever, when he feels as though the person witnessing to him does not truly know the Word of the God he claims to serve.

This leads to the second possible problem with Fay’s plan, that of  witnessing to everyone you meet (“Person X”[1]) no matter what, and no matter how they respond. There is a place in evangelism for tact and sensitivity for cultural expectations, and when a believer reaches out to “Person X” in a memorable way (like those Fay mentions in his personal testimony, 189), it depends on the person whether that memory is either positive or negative. If negative, that one incident of well-intended obnoxiousness could shut that one person off to Christ and Christianity for the rest of his life, only because the witness lacked tact. The Army has a saying, that soldiers need to “kill all the enemies, and let God sort them out.” This seems to be the mentality used in tactless witnessing. Rather than taking a gospel script and spouting it off to every person—man or woman, old or young, American or Chinese, etc.—a believer needs to follow the example of Paul and adapt to the situation: “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (I Corinthians 9:19-22).


[1] For further information, see: Thompson, W. Oscar Jr., Concentric Circles of Concern: Seven Stages for Making Disciples (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1999), 15.© 2010 E.T. 

About these ads
This entry was posted in Book Review, Evangelism, Non-Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s