Harvest House Publishers, a major Christian publisher of Christian material since 1974, has purchased the rights to a new book that will be co-edited by MRM associate Eric Johnson and Christian apologist/educator Dr. Sean McDowell. Tentatively titled Sharing the Good News with Mormons, the book will feature contributions from more than 20 different evangelists, scholars, and pastors on a variety of evangelistic topics.
The book idea came to Johnson last summer after someone asked him which method of evangelism is best to use with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a question that is often posed to those who are involved in full-time Christian ministry.
“There are many tactics, so it depends on you and your personality,” he answered the inquirer. “Perhaps someone should just write a book that includes a variety of possibilities as a one-stop source.”
That night, Johnson mulled over the idea and decided to ask some ministry friends to participate in a compilation book. The idea would feature short chapters that provides the contributor’s philosophy and methods while including illustrative stories. Because this is a book on Christian evangelism–a topic that unfortunately will never be a best-seller at bookstores–Johnson decided that the idea would not appeal to a publisher. Thus, he decided that the only option would be to self-publish, just as he did in 2016 when he printed Mormonism 101 for Teens. (In addition, Johnson has co-authored three published books on Mormonism (with Bill McKeever), including Answering Mormons’ Questions (Kregel, 2013) and Mormonism 101 (Baker, 2015).)
Johnson asked fellow apologists such as Keith and Becky Walker (Evidence Ministries), Chip Thompson (Tri-Grace Ministry) and John Kauer (Thinking About Eternity) to contribute, with each one agreeing. Every member at MRM (Bill McKeever, Sharon Lindbloom, Aaron Shafovaloff and Randy Sweet) also promised to write a chapter of their own.
According to the initial set-up, each chapter would be limited to 3,000 words and cover a particular tactic that has worked for a particular evangelist in the past. The target audience would be lay Christians who wanted to explore possible ways of sharing their faith with LDS friends, neighbors and relatives.
Last fall, Johnson asked Andrew Rappaport (Striving for Eternity) to contribute a chapter on open air evangelism, even though Andrew lives in New Jersey and does not aim his ministry at Mormons. Rappaport follows the methods used by Ray Comfort and has found great success using a loving demeanor. He agreed and then asked, “Why don’t you involve other notable apologists and see if you can get a major publisher to buy into this idea?” He suggested J. Warner Wallace (among other books, Wallace has written Cold Case Christianity), a mutual friend of Johnson’s, as a candidate to write another chapter for the book.
“Look, this is too good an idea to just self publish and distribute just 300 copies over five years,” Wallace told Johnson. “I think you need to think bigger.”
Thus, Johnson began to ask other apologists and pastors to participate, even if their ministries (like Rappaport and Wallace) were not focused on Mormons. Those who agreed to contribute chapters include Dr. Corey Miller (president, Ratio Christi), Dr. Lynn Wilder (author of the best-selling book Unveiling Grace), Micah Wilder (founder of Adam’s Road), Mark Mittelberg (author of many books, including several he has coauthored with Lee Strobel, the author of The Case for Christ), and Dr. Bryan Hurlbutt (pastor of Lifeline Community in Utah).
Dr. Sean McDowell, a friend of Johnson’s for many years and the author of more than a dozen Christian books, agreed to contribute his own chapter and then offered help in contacting Harvest House Publishers. McDowell called an editor at the company and explained the concept while presenting him with the multi-page proposal authored by Johnson. There was initial interest.
“Let me pitch this to the other editors next week,” McDowell was told. A few weeks later the publisher suggested that McDowell be made into a co-editor, which made sense due to McDowell’s vast experience in apologetics and publishing. He also has a good grasp on the subject of Mormonism.
Johnson and McDowell first worked together in 2010 on the Apologetics Study Bible For Students, a best-seller that McDowell edited and Johnson served as a contributor of feature articles and notes found throughout the Bible. In addition, the Johnson family twice hosted several dozen students, teachers, and parents for a one-week spring Utah missions trip with students from Capistrano Valley Christian School. Until 2016, McDowell served as that school’s Bible department head for more than a decade before becoming a part of the faculty at Biola University in La Mirada, CA.
With agreement on the leadership of the project, Harvest House made a generous offer that couldn’t be refused.
“I am excited to have Harvest House Publishers show the interest they have,” Johnson said. “This is a solid Evangelical Christian publisher that will help make this project better than anything I could have done on my own. Their commitment to this book and willingness to include marketing support is a huge answer to prayer. I look forward to having this great resource be made available to Christians who are interested in sharing their faith with Mormons.”
Of the two dozen scheduled contributors (details on the exact team are still being worked out), at least 40 percent have never had their writing published.
“It will be wonderful to have some of my friends get their work published for the first time,” Johnson said. “This might be the first step for some of them to get a contract down the road to write their own book. This is a very talented group of ministers serving the Kingdom of God.”
Proposed chapters will include utilizing the “Impossible Gospel,” dialoguing with “Mormon atheists,” countering a Mormon’s personal testimony, sharing truth with LDS family members, talking with Mormon missionaries, and using public surveys to create a conversation.
“We might not write about every single tactic that Christians have used to share their faith, but I guarantee we’ll get to the majority of them,” Johnson said. “And even if all a chapter does is stimulate thinking in a believer who might think there are related ways that tactic could be used, then we’ve done our job. I want Christians to think outside the box.”
The book should be ready for release in the middle to end of 2018.
NOTE: A tentative book outline/index will be released in the next few weeks.