The goal of Robert Coleman’s, The Master Plan of Evangelism can be condensed into a short passage from his preface, “[This book] is an effort to see controlling principles governing the movements of the master in the hope that our own labors might be conformed to a similar pattern.”
It’s an effort as relevant now as it was when the book was first published in 1963. Dr. Coleman does his best to present the core principles that define biblical evangelism, all from the life and words of the master evangelist, Jesus. Each chapter focuses on a different stage of Jesus’ plan to “conquer” the world with his message, such as selection, consecration, and delegation. He expertly uses prodigious amounts of Scripture to demonstrate how Jesus, with a small band of dedicated disciples, multiplied himself, so that when he ascended, his church could continue the great work of the Gospel he set into motion.
With the many well-meaning evangelism programs that abound in the modern church, these principles are a breath of fresh air. This mission of the church to spread the Gospel can become quickly obscured when men and women with good intentions, forget the means by which Jesus multiplied his ministry. His ministry focused on pouring into individuals, not merely on offering altar calls to large crowds. It didn’t consist merely in classroom sessions, where those with “gifts” of evangelism shared with those ungifted the five points of successful evangelism; it involved sharing all of life together, so that Jesus’ disciples could see evangelism not merely as a task to be performed every week, but as a lifestyle to be imitated. Each chapter lays out the case for each stage of Jesus’ ministry from Scripture and shows how these principles can be applied today.
This is an honest book that should be read by any and all who would want to see more personal evangelism in their own lives, and especially by those who want to train others to follow in Christ’s footsteps. I was given a copy of a recent, heavily abridged edition (New Spire, 2010), which made it a more manageable read, but presented the author’s main points wonderfully.