About the Author:
Mark Finley (b. 1945) is a honed evangelist of many years. Since beginning his ministry in 1967, he has served as pastor, teacher, evangelist, departmental leader, and writer of books on soul wining. He was the speaker of It is Written media ministry for a long time.
About the Book:
Decisions. Persuading People for Christ, an easy to read eighty-one page evangelism resource was published in Silver Spring, MD by the Ministerial/Stewardship Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in 1984.
The book is a classic on how to lead people through making long-lasting decisions and commitments as they seek to follow Jesus. It seeks to show how seekers of truth can solidify their decisions by standing up and out for the truth they have been taught, without being manipulated by the evangelist. The book suggests that people like the truth, but they long to be helped on their path to making a bold decision.
Finley sets the template for his thesis by asserting that decisions are rooted in interpersonal relationships. The more likely one has confidence in the messenger, the more likely is a positive decision. Accepting and believing the prospects to be God’s children are key to their decision. Finley notes that the Bible is God’s dynamic tool for soul winning and every effective soul winner must know how to use the right text at the right time to generate decision. Also, understanding that decisions stem out of the interplay going on in a person’s mind, a soul winner takes the study of the human mind seriously.
More so, Finley advances the importance of fanning the flame of desire for the prospect. The gospel should be presented as having unending benefits, as against the method of presenting only prohibitions. People should be led to accept Jesus not because of what they stand to lose but because of what they will gain. However, the temporal and eternal consequences of sin should be clearly presented, so that personal conviction can strengthen decision.
Furthermore, the sacrifices of Jesus should be accentuated so that the prospects could see that whatever decision they are to make is dwarfed by the one Jesus made in order to save man. But the truth as it is in Jesus must be presented clearly, it is unwise to cajole people into making decisions about things they hardly understand. The language of appeal and the power of prayer are not to be lightly employed in the decision making business.
Finley summarizes his work by positing that in leading prospects toward decision making, they are to be made to see how what they are accepting can help them in their daily struggles with sin and self. That is, they can begin to appropriate the riches of Christ’s supplies for their needs. If the gospel is not relevant to their situations, it would make no palpable sense to them. Beyond the decision for baptism, the evangelist should be aware of the obvious crises the new converts will face – crisis of discouragement, crisis of integration, crisis of lifestyle, and crisis of leadership. Finely concludes by reminding the evangelist that he should not depend solely on his knowledge, tact, and strategies, while forgetting that the only recipe for success in the art of leading men and women to decide for Jesus is having a living connection with Jesus Himself.
This little volume is still highly recommended to anyone who wishes to hone their evangelistic skills, especially in the art of making appeals to prospects. The principles Finley espoused years ago in this book are crucial for mission today.
Reviewed by John Okpechi