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  1. 11 reasons why I think this is still the best evangelistic book to read with seekers Review / Tip by Paul Levy

    Let me give you 11 reasons why I think this is still the best evangelistic book to read with seekers

    1. It’s written by a proven and tested evangelist. What this means is the issues, objections and questions he deals with are the real deal. The author is a man who spent a lifetime telling people the gospel and so there’s a deftness to how he quickly handles and overcomes obstacles in the hearer/reader

    2. The author gets you into the Bible. There is masses of exposition in Fresh Start but it’s woven into the volume and very accessible. There is a lightness of touch to Chappo’s Bible teaching and why this is so encouraging is that ordinarily the way people become Christians is the way people continue as Christians. This is why I think Fresh Start is such an important book. It is evangelism that gets your nose into the text of scripture without you even realising it. He summarises the big picture but also expounds the text in detail. There is too much evangelism that never actually gets to the Bible, or is hung on a verse which doesn’t drive you to scripture

    3. The book is simple – small words, short sentences, complicated ideas expressed very clearly

    4. Chappo was a master illustrator and yet the illustrations are everyday life and easy to relate to. What that means is that the book hasn’t dated and preachers can steal them and make them their own. There is a real skill in the way he illustrates briefly and simply; lots of word pictures, conversations, brief one-liners. The other point I would like to make is that the illustrations are not emotional; they are not stories which pull on the heart strings. He’s going after the will and mind, not just the emotions

    5. It gives the best and clearest explanation of hell that I know of. It’s full of compassionate warning.

    6. He has great turns of phrase; surprises that made me stop and think – “There’s no reason why I shouldn’t have a really good friendship with Jesus as long as I don’t become a bore and start correcting his theology

    7. The chapter on the response is a model of how we can preach the gospel and apply it closely and carefully. He has the advantage in writing of being able to be more thorough than maybe he would be in his preaching but there’s a demand for a response with very clear teaching on what repentance is as well as the Lordship of Christ

    8. The book is written in 4 parts

    i) Our Problem, God’s Solution ii) Can we really know? iii) What’s the alternative? iv) What’s to be done I liked the fact that he says, at the end of part 1, if you’re convinced go straight to part 3 and it’s laid out clearly.

    9. There are some wonderful parts of scripture expounded freshly with lots of Chappo-isms – Genesis 3, Luke 15, Romans 3, the ‘I am’ sayings. He would have preached them 100s of times and so you’re getting years of preaching distilled which models to us.

    10. I only met John Chapman once and heard him in the flesh a couple of times. I’ve listened to quite a lot of his material and what he’s very good at is getting rid of the unnecessary. I disagreed with him once on the length of preaching but he worked very hard at not being long and verbose. He’d learnt brevity. In retrospect he was probably right and I could have done with listening to him. What you find in Fresh Start and in his preaching is the art of a studied simplicity. I think Chappo’s preaching transcends class. That’s partly because he ‘s an Australian but, if you read his biography, it’s interesting that he gave the Bible Readings at CICCU but was equally welcomed in churches in very deprived areas

    11. ‘Read evangelistic books’ – I was given this advice when I became a Christian which in some ways was unusual. I kept it up for a while but probably haven’t read a directly evangelistic book in ages. The obvious advantage is you familiarise yourself with the gospel to such an extent that you’re equipped to share it with others. Normally the people who write books are those with a particular gift of telling the gospel, so you learn from the best. I find evangelism and even looking out for opportunities can tragically fall off my radar in the midst of the ministry merry go round, A Fresh Start has given me a shot in the arm when it comes to telling the gospel.

    Pray! – I’ve given this book to one of our congregation who I’m hoping to meet up with and am praying that God uses Fresh Start to bring him to new life.

    (Posted on 22/01/2018)

  2. No so much a review as a tribute and a personal letter from my son to Chappo Review / Tip by Dave McDonald

    On Saturday afternoon we joined with hundreds of others in St Andrews Cathedral, to give thanks for John Chapman. His passing had affected people in a manner that I hadn’t seen since the death of Princess Diana in 1997. No doubt the death of Princess Diana impacted millions more than Chappo, but as I watched the flood of facebook tributes in the hours following his death, I was deeply moved. Chappo shaped the lives of thousands of people in ways that he would never have known. It was a joy to celebrate his life, to be reminded of his Saviour, to sing the songs he loved, to pray for the legacy of his life and ministry to continue, and to thank God that we were able to share in his life.

    My relationship with this man grew over many years, from first hearing him speak as a uni student, to being trained by him as a preacher, to being mentored and encouraged by him as a pastor. He became a very good friend who was not afraid to tell me the honest truth. I sought his wisdom on many occasions, especially when faced with big decisions, and his advice was always controlled by a desire to honour Jesus Christ. He’d often give advice, even when it wasn’t asked for – but it was always good! Chappo loved nothing more that to explain the message of Jesus clearly, so that people would hear God’s wonderful message of life, forgiveness, relationship with God, and hope for eternity.

    A Fresh Start by John Chapman is one of the clearest books explaining the guts of the Christian message that I’ve read. It’s written with charm and wit. If you’ve heard him speak a few times, you can almost hear the tone of voice in his writing. It’s full of stories and illustrations, but it doesn’t waffle or meander off track. I looked for a copy of this book on my shelf, following Chappo’s death, and I couldn’t find one. The reason is that as quickly as I buy them, I seem to give them away to others. So I’ve just ordered another 20 copies.

    I remember some years back speaking at an annual Christian conference, and reviewing A Fresh Start to the gathering. I asked the question, ‘Who has been influenced to become a Christian through their reading of this book?’ A number of hands went up! One time I was with Chappo after he’d received a letter from someone in prison who’d been deeply affected by reading it. We talked about it, and Chappo humbly revealed to me that hardly a week went by when he didn’t receive a letter of thanks for this book.

    I’m not going to summarise the contents of the book, other than to say it explains very clearly what a Christian is, and how you can become one. It focuses explicitly on Jesus Christ, revealing who he is, what he has done, and why he should be followed. Many of the questions that people ask about Christianity are well answered in this little book. It’s worth buying to read, and to pass onto others who are interested in finding out more.

    On the 8th December last year, Chappo was very unwell in hospital in Sydney. As was I in Canberra. It was only days after I’d been diagnosed with cancer. My 13 year old, Marcus, had just finished reading A Fresh Start, and Fiona suggested that he write a note to Chappo thanking him. He did and I understand that Chappo was very moved by the letter. He mentioned it often, not only to us, but also to others. In fact, a friend approached me after the thanksgiving service and shared how he’d been with Chappo shortly after he received the letter. With tears in his eyes, he suggested that my friend would be encouraged as he read it too. And he was.

    Marcus has agreed to me reproducing a slightly edited version of his personal letter to Chappo and we hope it’ll encourage others to read A Fresh Start.

    Letter to Chappo 8/12/11

    Dear John Chapman

    My name is Marcus McDonald, son of David McDonald. I asked my dad for your book, a fresh start because one of my youth group leaders said it was a good book to read, and it was a great book to read. I became a Christian a few months ago at my youth group camp. I heard an amazing talk by Steve Prior and that’s when I decided to live for Christ. Since then I’ve been having a bit of trouble being a Christian at school. I’ve been too focused on what other people think of me and not what God thinks of me.

    Your book has really led me back onto track with Jesus. I’m reading God’s word a lot more now. I’m reading through the New Testament and I’m up to Philippians. I finished your book the night I found out my father had cancer. It was a very hard night I felt very sad. I read the last chapter that night and it told me to just pray and let God decide what he wants to do. Your book has helped me with a lot of things and I want to thank you for writing this book and I hope to read more of your books.

    When I found out my dad was in hospital I thought it would be nothing and that we would still go to Darwin and start a new church, but it doesn’t look like we will move after all. Which is disappointing because I was really looking forward to moving. I was looking forward to going to a Christian school and making more Christian friends, because at the moment I don’t have many Christian friends. I just have to trust God that he helps me live for him at school. I also wanted to go fishing a lot in Darwin.

    I’ve heard you are in hospital and I hope that you will get better very soon. It’s sad to have a lot of sick people close to you. My grandad also has cancer in the throat and that’s been hard on him and my dad. I enjoy going to church and youth group and spending time with God and some friends. I went to one night of NTE and I loved the great Christian atmosphere and the singing was amazing fun, it was so loud.

    So thank you so much.

    Marcus (Posted on 26/11/2012)

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