Book review by Kermit Netteburg
Certainly every Christian minister is in the business of persuasion. For that reason alone, Em Griffin’s book is a worthwhile addition to any minister’s library. Griffin reviews much of the research of the past twenty years in persuasion and presents it in a style that reads more like a storybook than like the scholarly work it is. A weakness is that it is written so completely in story style that it suffers from a lack of references, with only thirty-five footnotes and references and no bibliography.
However, that criticism is minor, since the book was not written for scholars but for nonscholar Christians who use persuasion. Griffin examines specific techniques that aid the persuasion process, and gives illustrations to show how these techniques can apply to Christian persuasion.
The author develops his own model for persuasion, based upon a candlemaking analogy. He says the three steps are (1) melt, (2) mold, and (3) make hard.
Candles cannot be fashioned until the wax is melted and made soft. Likewise, individuals are not open to Christian messages until they have been melted, or made aware of their need of Christ.
Candle wax that is melted but unmolded is of no particular value. Likewise, Christian per suasion must not only point out needs but mold the person to the pattern of Jesus Christ.
One of the unique aspects of Griffin’s book is its emphasis on the third step, making hard. Griffin shows how the soft, molded candle loses its shape quickly unless it is made hard. He relates this to Christianity by showing that often people who have accepted Christ have not been successfully churched.
This three-step process, especially the make-hard step, has some interesting implications for Christian evangelism. Christian evangelism concentrates much harder on winning the lost than on keeping the recently converted. One of the disappointing facets of evangelism has been the high dropout rate within the first year or two after baptism, and the book suggests at least one method of looking at this problem.
Griffin, who teaches communication at Wheaton College, has written a book that should do more than just sit on a minister’s shelf.