Book Review – Prophetic Evangelism (Mark Stibbe)

Prophecy and evangelism are not often thought of as going together, but in this book, Mark Stibbe argues forcefully for the importance of the gift of prophecy as an evangelistic tool. By “prophetic evangelism” he means God speaking supernaturally through a believer to an unbeliever in such a way that convinces the unbeliever of the reality of God. He also believes that God can speak prophetically to unbelievers in ways which are significant steps towards their conversion. He demonstrates many examples from Scripture where prophetic insight had evangelistic impact (For example: Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus and Nathaniel, Peter and Cornelius, Joseph and Pharaoh)

He is clearly aware that all sorts of objections will be raised. What about the primacy of the gospel? What about other methods of evangelism? What about false prophecy? Isn’t prophecy just for the church? The answers he provides are sensitive to evangelical concerns for the Scriptures to be our guide and the Gospel to be our message. However, he does presume sympathy to a charismatic view of the gifts.

The book is written for a wide audience, and should not take too long to read, especially as it contains a generous helping of prophetic evangelism anecdotes. Although I have heard Mark Stibbe preach on only 6 or 7 occasions, I think I had heard pretty much all his stories before!

The aim of the book is to encourage people to try it, based on his firm belief that all can and should seek to prophesy. As well as providing guidelines for prophecy which will act as safeguards against potential problems, he also outlines some suggestions for how churches can train people in this gift. He is a proponent of the “have a go” school of thought, where after a seminar on prophecy, delegates are actively encouraged in small groups to attempt to prophesy over one another. I have always been somewhat uneasy about this approach as it pressurizes people to make things up if they have heard nothing. I certainly have been on the receiving end of obscure prophecies at such events.

I think this book will widen the reader’s horizons about how God can use the prophetic gift in evangelism. It will inspire you to pray for God’s supernatural intervention as you witness. There is a danger that it will leave people feeling somewhat inadequate, as their own experience falls short. How widespread this gift ought to be, is a point hard to determine Biblically. Mark Stibbe clearly feels we should expect much more of it.

On the whole, Mark Stibbe’s handling of Scripture is careful. I questioned his exegesis at a couple of points (e.g. on Rom 12:6 and his defence of a tripartite human nature), but this book has the potential to add a new dimension to charismatic thinking about the gift of prophecy.

3 thoughts on “Book Review – Prophetic Evangelism (Mark Stibbe)

  1. Enjoyed reading your review Mark.

    I would like to briefly address the “have-a-go” mentality that you shy away from. Often at the end of seminars we judge, according to the target audience and how many are present, what is the best method to “impart” and “activate” the gift of prophecy in people. There are a number of ways this is done, either by small groups as you mentioned, or allowing the Holy Spirit to simply fall on people stirring up the gift through a prayer up-front and the laying on of hands, or by picking out a small group of people that can be prophesied over by the congregation as a demonstration and encouragement.

    Ultimately, there will always be people’s flesh talking during a workshop on prophecy (demonstrated perfectly by the disciples in Matthew 16), however many are often amazed and encouraged that they can indeed prophesy and hear God’s voice. We don’t always get it right, and I agree with you that there is a risk of feeling inadequate too, however when you begin to step out of the boat and walk on water you realise that “faith” is clearly spelt R.I.S.K (Wimber).

    Ideally, my favourite approach is to actually take the people out of the seminar afterwards and into the streets where the lost & dying are, putting into practice what they have received. We like talking about this, but it’s far more on Father’s heart that we DO this!

    In Father’s Perfect Love,


  2. Adam, thanks for the link to the prophetic evangelism site. I have heard good reports of your seminar at this year’s New Frontiers conference.

    You’re right about faith. I have been thinking about this a lot in my own life recently. Faith is stepping out of the boat when Jesus calls, but I guess I tend to worry that Jesus isn’t calling and so its not faith but foolishness (or perhaps even pride and presumption)! There have been many times in my life when I have known God speaking to me very clearly, but I badly need to grow in hearing his voice better.

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