I’m OK–You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop

by John Shore on June 28, 2007 · 29 comments


Immediately upon its publication I’m OK—You’re Not proved so controversial that one month after its release its publisher (NavPress) recalled it from stores and wiped it from its web site. (It continued to sell in America and abroad, however, putting its publisher in the awkward position of fulfilling orders for a book of which it was ostensibly unaware.) The central premise of I’m OK is that in their zeal to fulfill the Great Commission (“Therefore go and make disciples of all … “) Christians too often—and necessarily—violate Jesus’ Great Commandment (“Love your neighbor as you love yourself”). John Shore’s argument for this case—as engagingly and humorously as he makes it—is simply too powerful to ignore. And Shore doesn’t make it alone. One of the most impactful aspects of this book are the statements that conclude each of its chapters, wherein non-Christians share what it’s like for them to be the object of evangelizing Christians. Garnered from ads Shore ran on Craigslists across the country (and in the book presented under the subtitle of “Ouch”) these deeply affecting testimonies launched the trend in Christian publishing of books based on the value of Christians actually listening to what non-Christians have to say about Christians and Christianity.

I’m OK—You’re Not is about nothing less than the totality of the relationship between Christians and non-Christians. Shore knows what it’s like to live on both sides of the Christian river: until his sudden conversion to the faith at thirty-eight years old he could not, in his own words, “have been less of a Christian if I’d had two horns sprouting from the top of my head and carried about a trident.” I’m OK—You’re Not is Mr. Shore’s splendid bridge across the deep waters that too often divide Christian and non-Christian.

Finalist, 2007 San Diego Book Award, Best Religion/Spirituality


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An interview done with me by ChristianBook.com about I’m OK is here.

Critical praise for “I’m OK–You’re Not”

A lighthearted approach, with a serious message — The San Diego Union-Tribune

Shore is a humorist whose work is more comedic than Donald Miller, and his appeal to Christians is more direct. Shore is preaching and teaching under the comedy, and he’s very effective as a critic and motivator. Shore turns evangelism upside down and engages in just enough hyperbole to effectively make his point…. Shore ends each chapter with sets of extended comments from unbelievers on what they want to say to Christians. Shore calls these sections “Ouch,” and that’s what they are. These unbelievers are articulate, thoughtful and way out in front of many Christians on the subject of love, respect and dialog…. Shore appeals to Christians to ponder the nature of love, the importance of honest and mature Christian character and how relationships with non-Christians really look. Shore speaks so much common sense, and skips so much Christian-ese and predictable rhetoric that some Christians will be offended immediately. Younger, thoughtful, humble Christians who know something is very wrong will find Shore saying exactly what they’ve been thinking. This is a great book for a discussion group, and it has questions to stir up those discussions. If you let this book loose “in church,” however, the response may be explosive, which would be a lot of fun. … [An] Outstanding book to stir up thought and conversation. And a good book to show to a thoughtful unbeliever. — Michael Spencer, a.k.a The Internet Monk, author of the bestseller Mere Churchianity.

A must-read not just for pastors, but for anyone who has a passion for the Gospel, yet lacks the ability to see the Church as others often see it. … Shore succeeds in presenting a viewpoint worthy of consideration and advantageous for the growth of outreach-focused believers. — Outreach magazine

John Shore is one of those rare writers who can make people laugh and think at the same time. Irreverently reverent, I’m OK–You’re Not is a book perfect for the times we’re in. Ministers should read a chapter to their congregations every Sunday. That would be the Christian thing to do, because John offers us compassionate laughter during a most uncompassionate and unfunny period of our nation’s history. Non-Christians will love this book, too–which proves John’s point. — Richard Louv, author of the international bestseller, Last Child in the Woods, and The Nature Principle.

Humorist and Christian writer John Shore presents I’m OK – You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop, a frank discussion of a crucial flaw in modern evangelical movements – that they have come to resemble sales calls made during dinnertime, and as such are just as unlikely to achieve results. Emphasizing the concept that letter others experience God’s love is far more potent than simply telling them about it, I’m OK – You’re Not emphasizes the importance of listening to the Great Commandment above all. The Great Commandment referred to is as spoken by Jesus Christ and recorded in the Bible: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Penned with gentle charm, Christian humor, love, and understanding, I’m OK – You’re Not deserves to be required reading for any Christian considering embarking upon an evangelical mission or career. — Midwest Book Review

John Shore has reminded us that there really is a positive, healthy, life-changing way to share our life and faith–and that there is also a very toxic way to do it. With incredible wit and lots of wisdom, Shore reminds us that God loves us in the midst of all our weirdness and quirkiness, and that we are to do the same to others. — Jim Burns, host of the nationally syndicated radio show HomeWord with Jim Burns

Has America been effectively evangelized? Have the non-Christians in our lives already heard the Gospel? According to John Shore, yes! Calling for a cessasion of domestic evangelism (while being very clear, however, about the importance of evangelizing both to people who’ve never heard about Christianity, and to anyone who has first asked to hear about it), he turns his razor-sharp wit towards exposing the problems inherent with the efforts of modern evangelism. While championing the Great Commandment over the Great Commission, Shore humorously illustrates his experiences as both a non-Christian being ‘evangelized’ and a Christian trying to share his new-found faith. First-person testimonies from non-Christians’ experiences with attempts to evangelize them are supplied to bolster his position, as are refutations of key biblical texts commonly used to support evangelism. — Steve MacDonald, Evangelism books editor, Christianbook.com

Warning: Shore’s I’m OK–You’re Not is a radical read. It’s right on the money. If you’re up to being challenged to reach today’s post-modern culture, John’s perspective will flip your switch. The book is worth reading for the story of John’s life alone. Buy it, then live it. — Eric Hogue, host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Eric Hogue Show

I’m OK–You’re Not is written with a warm, sharp, funny, self-critical, in-your-face sense of humor that makes me laugh out loud and give thanks for Mr. Shore’s challenge to the bad habits we believers can fall into. He should be especially terrific for young adults, but I hope every “evangelism committee” in the country will read and spend a day discussing this, he latest wake-up call. — Rev. Jack E. Lindquist, professor of religious studies, University of San Diego; Canon for Biblical Studies, St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego

I am a fan of this book! Its take on the Great Commission and Great Commandment topic is priceless. Thanks for saying it the way it needs to be said, Mr. Shore. — Rachel Knobles Cabal, Director of Evangelism, First United Methodist Church, Dallas, TX.

John Shore clearly articulates the essence of effective evangelism. His humor is convicting as he exposes common mistakes and points readers to valuable insights for reaching this generation with the Gospel. — Dr. Fred Wilson, host of radio’s Reaching for Life and pastor of Trinity Church, Sunnyvale, CA.

This would be the sort of book I would use as a teaching tool for my congregation as we seek to share the love of God in the world. What makes it particularly helpful (in addition to the zany humor) is the format of each chapter: the ‘Ouches’ gave me not-so-joyful goosebumps of recognition of myself and many of my parishioners; and the discussion questions at the end of each chapter are excellent thought-provokers. As I was reading, I made a note that the “best line” so far (to surely be quoted in an upcoming sermon!) was on p. 107: “Being close to God is something to be grateful for, not proud of.” Then, at the end of the chapter, the quip about that line (p. 115) elicited the biggest of the many guffaws I had already guffawed. (I’ll let you check it out for yourself.) Good for John Shore for putting ideas out there that others are timid about expressing; we Christians need him to remind us exactly what it means to be OK — or not — with God and with each other. — Rev. Rhonda McIntire, rector, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Pacific Beach, CA.

John Shore is the real deal. He cares about people, he understands, in his heart and in his mind, that we are to love others. And it seems, from the stories and illustrations, that he spends time with normal people, not in a holy-huddle. Sharing the great news of Christ’s redeeming love is a calling for us all. It is an aspect of discipleship that is mired in funky expectations, weird theologies, and even weirder practices. It is, though, a splendid and exciting thing to do, to tell others about why you are a follower of Christ, what His death provides, how to find forgiveness and grace and meaning and life. If we are to announce the Kingdom with integrity, it is clear to anybody who has thought about it, that Shore’s insight is central and basic and urgent: we have got to stop turning people off. We certainly have to stop being so smug. We have to live out and model a way of life that is, well, good. We have got to show bridge-building love by being agents of grace. The sub-title nearly says it all, and he unpacks it well. Check it out: I’m Ok–You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop. This is a book about not doing evangelism. It is about starting with the Great Commandment and letting others experience God’s love as a way towards the Great Commission. I have read oodles of books on evangelism and there are many I like. This is truly one of them and, I’d bet, it is the one you will enjoy the most, laugh about the most, and shake your head (in agreement or, if you are a fire-breather, in disgust, for his seeming lack of proper religiosity.) I’d like to think that I am a better person when I read this kind of stuff, and, to be honest, feel more playful, even as a book reviewer. He’s a hard guy not to like. Thanks to the publishers who take risks doing these kind of little books that aren’t the formulas and cliches that are so often expected in this biz. Thanks to writers like John Shore for being authentic and fun. And thank God for the Spirit’s activity in days like today, where a slight offense brought two brother’s closer together in our joint calling of getting the words right, and getting the Word out. — Byron Borger, Hearts & Minds BookNotes.

I know about Shore only comes from his book. And what seems clear to me is he is greatly concerned about how believers live toward those who are far from God and he tries to communicate that in a very laid back and humorous fashion. Both of these are evidenced in the style and tone of his writing, which is extremely informal and unorthodox at times, almost as if he were talking to the reader instead of writing a book. But more important than tone is what Shore actually says. And it is clear his desire is for believers to live out both aspects of the Great Commandment – love God AND love others. And so the book travels a path leading the reader to a place of positive engagement with those far from God, actually coming to the place of loving those who are different than us. It seems clear that Shores own background has a lot to do with his unique perspective on this issue. Growing up in a flawed home with parents who both, at one time or other, jettisoned their responsibility toward the family and then (apparently) becoming a Christ follower late in life, Shore knows what it looks like and feels like to be one of the “others.” This comes through in his sensitivity to the issues those far from God experience and the prophetic insensitivity he displays for those who claim to be part of the club – which seems an appropriate description for how Shore sees most of Christianity. One of the most interesting parts of the book was the end of every chapter had a section called, “Ouch” which was filled with real comments from people about Christians and Christianity. Shore took out adds on Craig’s List asking people to reply to him with their assessment of Christians and he the responses he received are extremely illuminating. (I thought this was a really creative idea.) — Christian Book Lounge

My grandfather Lou, an avowed atheist, taught at a prison where he was the focus of intense prayer and proselytizing by Christian inmates. One day an ardent devotee approached my grandfather. “Last night I was praying for you, and the Lord said to me, ‘Lay off Lou for a while.’”

This fairly sums up the message of John Shore’s I’m OK, You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop: just lay off.

Shore’s argument begins with our fundamental commandment to “Love God; love others.” Love entails accepting and respecting people just as they are. Telling non-Christians (a.k.a. “Normies,” in Shore’s lingo) that they need to accept Christ is inherently judgmental and unloving. Jesus gave us the Golden Rule: Treat other people the way you want to be treated. Honestly, would you want to hang out with someone with the hidden agenda of “You need to change to be more like me”? We need to love and live in such a way that people are drawn to our faith, to be open about our faith when people ask us, and to privately pray that they accept God’s invitation to his eternal party. But, Shore says, it’s not up to us to push them, kicking and fussing, through the door.

Shore’s “cease and desist” injunction targets the unsolicited spiritual browbeating of people who have already heard the gospel yet choose to reject Christianity. A fundamental flaw in Shore’s reasoning is his contention that this group includes just about every non-Christian in America. “At this point, our Good News is old news,” he asserts. Although Shore rightly assesses traditional evangelistic methods to be woefully inadequate and even counterproductive, this does not mean that we are off the hook with the Great Commission in our own neighborhoods. To the contrary, our culture is desperately hungry for the real Good News. People may not need to hear—again—the four spiritual laws, but they do need to hear about the Jesus who declared, “The Spirit has anointed me to preach good news to the poor …” And they need to see Christians doing it.

Christians too often adopt a superior attitude toward non-Christians, but Shore goes overboard by admonishing, “It’s got to be perfectly okay for non-Christians to be non-Christian.” Love does not mean uncritical acceptance. Jesus loved the tax collector, the Pharisee, and the adulterer—but he invited them to a radically new life. The call of Christ is still “Repent and believe the good news!” Shore’s own painful life story, shared with poignant humor, suggests how Christians can walk alongside nonbelievers on the path of repentance and healing.

Theological critique aside, I recommend this book for several reasons. First, anyone interested in North American missions must grapple with our culture’s negative perception of Christianity, revealed in quotes from non-Christians such as this one: “I’d rather go to hell than live the hypocritical life I see so many Christians living.”

Second, it’s good to remind ourselves that producing converts is God’s job: “We can love Normies just as we find them, and let God worry about the rest of it.” While I disagree that unconditional love excludes nudging people toward Christ, getting stressed out about results doesn’t bring anyone closer to the kingdom.

Finally, thought-provoking books are rarely this much fun. If I ever get to invite seven people to a dinner party, Shore might make it onto my guest list. And I’ll make sure he’s seated next to an unbeliever — Heidi Unruh, director Congregations, Community Outreach and Leadership Development Project, Evangelicals for Social Action.

The human body has 206 bones. In the case of John Shore, almost all of them are funny. It’s almost as if the Almighty had implanted the cranial vaulted of this extremely talented writer with a divine glow, then surrounded it with silly putty and lime jell-o. This book is not a sermon. This book is not a devotional. This book is not a lot of things that I had in mind that it might be after picking it up and glancing at the liner notes. In fact, I was still puzzled after the first few chapters as to exactly what kind of book this really was. This book is, perhaps, an intervention, using the basics of Christianity as the foundation for it’s premise.
”The subtitle of the work from NavPress sets both the tone and the direction for the reader: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop. Shore launches his intervention by standing firmly on the historic two underpinnings of Christianity, The Great Commission and The Great Commandment … Whether deliberately or not, Shore gives a tip of his hat to the score of Mary Poppins, wherein we find guidance with which he seems to agree in the lyric, ‘a teaspoon of honey helps the medicine go down.’ In Shore’s case, it’s with a basket full of humor. But be not misled, dear reader. This is by no means a joke book, nor should it be taken lightly. Shore is addressing the all to large segment of the Church that seems to have the feeling that just because they’re saved, they are somehow better than their unsaved brethren with whom they are oft times trying to share the ‘Good News’ of the gospel in an attempt to persuade them to do as we have and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The problem, Shore points out time and again throughout the book, is not what we’re doing, but how we’re doing it. I should mention that Shore spends page after page, chapter after chapter, sounding like a Christian Dr. Phil. However, while he’s doing it, he’s also unloading truck loads of information bout the state of the church today, trends, directions, problems and solutions.
”The more you read, the more you find and the more you find, the better you’ll like it. You’ve just got to love a guy who can come up with chapter titles like, ‘So What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ and ‘So Being Born Again Isn’t the Same as Being Normal?’ The final chapter is the icing on this literary confection. It wraps up one of the most practical, instructional, and enjoyable works on evangelizing I’ve read in years. And, unlike many books I’ve read, liked and put aside, I know I’ll refer to this one again and again. — Paul McShane, book reviewer, Good News, Etc. (a monthly Christian newspaper in San Diego; circ. 42,000)

This book gives me hope that Christ’s church might become the church Christ intended. — Shari Llyod, The Phantom Tollbooth

Unique blend of humor and Jesus’ teachings.–Armchair Interviews

I do really believe that John Shore has laid his hand on the very heartbeat of God with what he has written in I’m OK–You’re Not. — Ray Searan, Senior Pastor, Intercultural Assembly of God, Fairbanks, Alaska

I’m in love with I’m OK–You’re Not. I’ve lately been quoting it in meetings at which I’ve spoken, and it’s triggered lots of discussions about the realtionship between the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. I appreciate this book’s very fresh perspective. It’s sometimes hard for those of us who have been believers for a long time not to get lost in the bits and pieces of what we’ve heard; we sometimes forget to take the time to review why we believe what we believe. The thinking experience this book has brought me has been great. —John Penrose, President, Children to Love

This would be the sort of book I would use as a teaching tool for my congregation as we seek to share the love of God in the world. What makes it particularly helpful (in addition to the zany humor) is the format of each chapter: the ‘Ouches’ gave me not-so-joyful goosebumps of recognition of myself and many of my parishioners; and the discussion questions at the end of each chapter are excellent thought-provokers. As I was reading, I made a note that the “best line” so far (to surely be quoted in an upcoming sermon!) was on p. 107: “Being close to God is something to be grateful for, not proud of.” Then, at the end of the chapter, the quip about that line (p. 115) elicited the biggest of the many guffaws I had already guffawed. (I’ll let you check it out for yourself.) Good for John Shore for putting ideas out there that others are timid about expressing; we Christians need him to remind us exactly what it means to be OK — or not — with God and with each other. — Rev. Rhonda McIntire, rector, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Pacific Beach, CA.

John Shore’s latest book, which is being used in my adult Sunday school class, has the audacity to suggest that it is more important to love people than to convert them. His premise is that everyone in our immediate surroundings has already heard of Jesus, and has at some point made a conscious decision to either become active in a church setting or not. The best way we Christians can invite people into the community of Christ is not through threatening them with hellfire and damnation, but by taking the time to develop real and lasting relationships with them, showing them Christ through our decisions, actions, and compassion. And of course, this book is full of his nervous, and sometimes irreverent wit, which makes it an enjoyable read. — Martin Zimmann, pastor, St. John Lutheran Church, ELCA, Dundee, Michigan

I’m OK — You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers And Why We Should Stop was an awesome read… I enjoyed every bit of it. And it even made me think! I really can’t say enough good things about it. So you’ve got an idea what you’re getting into when you read it (and I do mean when… it’s a must read!), John’s book is quite controversial amongst evangelical Christians. Why? He basically proposes that evangelism, as we know it here in the States, really needs to stop. Sounds heretical, doesn’t it? The Great Commission… on the back burner? Yeah. It does sound heretical. But if you read the book, you’ll likely agree with him (at least to some extent). How so? John’s premise is that the Great Commandment (to love our neighbor as ourselves in case you’ve forgotten) takes precedence over the Great Commission. When we evangelize the lost, most times our message is not one of love… it’s, as John’s title suggests, “I’m okay [because of my relationship with Christ]… you’re not [because you’re going to hell without Jesus].” When we share the gospel with a “Normie” (as John refers to your stereotypical lost person), the message often sounds like one of superiority and arrogance. We almost instantly build a wall between us and them that prohibits any real relationship to develop. John proposes a somewhat radical alternative… just love people, as they are. Get to know them… develop a real relationship… don’t see them as just another person to convert… another “notch on your belt”. Chances are, if you do that (love them, that is), you’ll eventually get the chance to share your faith with them … they’re bound to ask at some point. At that point, share with love, and don’t insult what they hold oh so dear in the process. Just don’t let loving them simply be an end to a means. Again, I have to emphasize that this is a great book, and I really think it would be an excellent text to use for a Sunday School class or small group. The chapters are all relatively short, very thought-provoking, and extremely easy to read (John’s writings are very entertaining!). What makes this book even more special, though? At the end of each chapter, John includes several “Ouch!” statements (messages written by nonbelievers, intended specifically for Christians) followed up by some questions to reflect upon. Both are guaranteed to provoke some awesome discussion… if that’s all that were in the book, it would be worth reading. All in all, this book is phenomenal… even if I don’t agree with everything he has to say 100%. If I had to rate it, it would get six stars (on a five-star scale). Be sure to get a copy of I’m OK — You’re Not. You’ll be glad you did. — John Stickley, Toward the Goal

I have had my own moments of saying all the wrong things to non-Christians, some close friends, some acquaintances — some even complete strangers. I don’t doubt some of you have done the same, and maybe even, like myself, cringe when you look back on those times. What are we doing wrong? What can we do differently? What do non-Christians really think of Christians these days? Author John Shore does an excellent job of answering all of these questions. Again, as in my previous book review, I find there are some comments/views that the author gives with which I am not in full agreement. But on the whole, I feel that every single Christian should read this book and really pay attention to what is going on in our world. Or to put it more plainly, to what we have been saying and doing to alienate those in our world. First, the main point the author is making is that, while The Great Commission (‘go out into all the world and preach the gospel…’) is so very, very important, it seems that Christians have climbed on board to that way of thinking so passionately that we have sometimes forgotten The Great Commandment — ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Shore makes a strong argument for really getting to know people, and love them just as they are, rather than letting them know how we think they need to be living their lives. Second, this guy is just plain funny. I know there are many different sorts of humor, but I feel that Shore’s wittiness and sometimes self-deprecation would connect with just about everybody. I don’t do this often, but I actually found myself laughing out loud at most of the book — in the doctor’s office, no less! Chapter titles such as ‘How Dare They Leave When We’re Offending Them’ and ‘So Being Born Again Isn’t the Same as Being Mature?’ caught me in a way that I knew I wanted to keep reading. Third, I’m OK — You’re Not isn’t all about the laughs. There is plenty of humor, to be sure, but I feel that in order to not get too upset about damage we may have done there is kind of a need to approach the subject in a bit of a joking way. Shore is smart enough to realize that it probably isn’t the best idea to preach at people about how they’ve been preaching at other people too much. It also seems that, after reading what the author shared about his very tragic childhood, that humor is a huge way in which he has learned to cope with some aspects of his life. That alone connected very strongly with me, because Casey and I have used laughter a lot to get through the entire past year.
”My very favorite part of this book came at the end of every chapter. I truly looked forward to it, even though it is so raw and sometimes so very difficult to read. Shore titled these sections appropriately ‘Ouch’ because they are a collection of quotes from non-Christians sharing how they feel about Christians, or what their experiences have been with Christians. These were obtained by the author through Craigslist. A brilliant idea, but wow…there are some harsh things. Nevertheless, I think they need to be heard, and so I applaud Mr. Shore for being so innovative in getting those quotes. Overall, I’m OK — You’re Not has been an awesome read for me. Before I had even finished the first chapter, I was telling Casey that this would be a great book to use in the campus ministry. It is just so relevant and I know that the humor would really draw students in and connect with them as it did with me.” —  Trace Talks

I highly recommend I’m OK-You’re Not.” — Kevin Bussey, Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee

You really must read I’m OK for yourself. … John Shore is a funny, witty man. The meat of this book is seasoned–no, peppered with a great deal of humor; good humor. I completely loved it. … Shore wants us to understand where people are at when we Christians are developing relationships. The logic is strong and the alternative way of treating unbelievers, Normies–he calls ’em–is a valid suggestion and inspired me to at least try it. Besides, John Shore isn’t stepping way out on a limb here, I have heard plenty of good teachers, Jerram Barrs for one, talk about this very suggestion. … That’s why I’m challenging you all to get a copy. Read this book. I really believe that John Shore has an excellent point here; and he doesn’t just scold his brothers and sisters without a New Plan. However, this book isn’t just for Christians. Nonbelievers will enjoy the breath of fresh, evangelical air that Shore provides. — Sadico Junction

I’m reading an awesome book that my husband picked up in Alabama while he was TDY last week. It is along the lines of Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz) except a little more….Everyday Guyish. Which I like. It’s called I’m OK – You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop, by John Shore. I love the whole premise of the book which is based on THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENT (Mark 12:28-31). … [I’m OK] is convicting, witty, and energizing. My heart totally resonated with everything he said. — Conversations With A Kat

Once again, John Shore has partnered with the Holy Spirit to produce a brilliant, entertaining and remarkable book. I’m OK – You’re Not speaks to 21st century Christians with wisdom and insight comparable to that of the first-century John. John Shore doesn’t preach, but rather engages his readers with humor and logic, thereby radiating love for them (though they may be misguided). The message is simple: The Great Commission has been accomplished here in America and most of the world. It’s time to stop foisting our faith on people who aren’t interested. It’s counterproductive, insulting, disrespectful and holier-than-thou. Instead, we need to accept and love them as they are — as we would want to be loved, ourselves — and share our faith only when and if they ask. John’s right, of course…and isn’t it a huge relief? — Debra Lee Baldwin, award-winning freelance writer for Sunset and Better Homes & Gardens; author of bestselling Designing with Succulants

Have you ever wondered why evangelizing doesn’t work? It really doesn’t matter if you’re trying to convert others to Christianity, to your particular political beliefs, or any other kind of evangelizing; John Shore explains why it’s so ineffective. Assuming you really want people to listen to you, he then goes on to give some practical suggestion. Along the way he says a lot of things that are important in iife in general. If you read for the “big picture”, you’ll get a lot more out of this book than if you only focus on the main topic. The author also shares some pretty personal stuff from his life. It takes a lot of guts to be this personal, and it’s pretty useful in understanding his perspective. This book is easy to read. Though the title (and the main message) may sound critical, the author uses generous doses of humor to help the medicine go down. — Janice Meyer, “Can I Change a Life?”

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

katydyd January 13, 2012 at 5:44 am

Wonderful!…I am encouraged every time I come across a fellow human with this take. I am a Christian of 8 yrs now, two atheist children, one agnostic, two who are searching (one currently looking into Buddhism). I have shared with my children my beliefs, they know it by heart. They also know I love them unconditionally and we are all very close. I feel my job as a parent is to teach them that unconditional love and acceptance (including accepting themselves), and to instill a desire to seek truth (this includes questioning things). When someone knows they are loved and accepted, they can be themselves. They are free to explore and figure things out. Beliefs become part of us as individuals if we are allowed to come to our own conclusions rather than feeling like we have to believe or behave a certain way in order to gain acceptance from parents or peers or society in general.


Mary Miller December 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I am only hoping to add to your letters to Christians about “what not to do when approaching a non christian.” Well to begin with, both my husband and I have Cerebral Palsy, along with other health “abc’s”. It seems rather crazy to stop someone in the street, in the store, or on the bus, being demanded to be prayed over, because of our ‘condition’ needs to be God fixed…Didn’t God make us in his own image? I am certain that if a non Christian came up to you in the streets, demanding that you needed praying over to be okay, you would be offended? So shouldn’t we? We have been told so many times how “inspirational” we are, that Jesus sent them to us to fix us…or “tsk, tsk, tsk, isn’t is so sad…” It seems what is sad, is that Christian’s can’t seem to realize we are not all broken (and this includes folks of other faiths, orientations, or beliefs). Most of us are pretty happy being what we are… thanks!


DR December 29, 2011 at 12:15 pm

That is mortifying. I’m so sorry on behalf of the christians that did that, that’s unbelievably stupid that people did/do that.


Dan Holzman-Tweed December 20, 2011 at 11:38 am

Memo to Heidi Unruh from a Wiccan High Priest who grew up as a Jew: John Shore’s right and you’re wrong. Contrary to your belief, everyone in your neighborhood has indeed heard about Christianity. It is really and truly impossible to grow up in North America and not hear about Christianity.

You’re on the right track in prioritizing acting Christ-like instead of telling everyone — again — that we should drop everything and convert to Christianity. Here’s the thing, though: if you’re doing all that Christ-like stuff because it’s part of your strategy to try to convert people, you’re not being Christ-like. If it’s just another lead-up to the next “nudge,” don’t bother. If you grew up Jewish, I wouldn’t have to explain that “She’s a nudge” is about the worst condemnation of a person there is. Don’t be a nudge.

Here’s the thing: there’s a whole lot of us out here who pick from any number of paths that aren’t Christianity because a) we think Christianity is theologically incorrect from first principles and; b) we have found paths to the Divine that we find theologically correct and work for us. You can either respect that or not. If you respect that, the proselytizing ends — no ifs, ands, or buts. If you don’t respect that, then no matter how Christ-like you are hoping your actions are, you’re bearing a false witness.


Julian October 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Im not ok?? and you are!! Wtf?
You should probably respect more…


John Shore October 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm

You should probably read more.


Jill August 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm

comic gold


DR October 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm

That’s EXACTLY what he meant!


Diana Avery via Facebook September 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Print on demand is so cool!


Fran Hlavacek via Facebook September 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm

and you should be down to the last couple, because it is an AWESOME book. even if I do have the kindle version… :)


Eva Leppard via Facebook September 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Doesn’t seem to be a ship to Australia option? Don’t MAKE me go to Amazon!


Tim Crowhurst via Facebook September 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Do you have the option of putting it on print-on-demand? That way you don’t have to worry about having too much/too little stock ever again! Plus the paper they use for POD books is sooo much nicer than the ordinary stuff.


Andrew Hackman via Facebook September 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I got my copy!


Charlotte Bear Dinner via Facebook September 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Cool will check when I am on my laptop … this phone is to funky!!


John Shore via Facebook September 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Hey, Charlotte. The link takes you to a way to buy the book.


Charlotte Bear Dinner via Facebook September 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

And how do we get them?? Im not a highly religious sort … more into the wiccan / pagan form of religion … but alway wanting to hear others views


An Athiest April 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I’m an atheist and came upon this book accidentally, but it offers the best approach to proselytizing/conversion I’ve ever heard from a Christian. I wish more Christians would read this book and think like this. If you want to get a non-believer’s attention, lead by example, treat them with respect and offer your views only when asked. It will go a long way towards your cause. I highly recommend this book for the faithful.


Cameron October 29, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I haven’t read the book yet, but just by looking at the excerpt here are some things that came to mind.

I fully agree that Christians need to be more human and relatable. But I think it’s more then just behavior modifications that Christians need. We need the gospel too. We need to be reminded of it daily. We need to preach it to ourselves just like Luther was intent on, because we forget it every day. Then we would be more humble in our approach with others.

Pop-mainstream Christianity has bought into this misconception that the gospel is as the book is titled, namely, “I’m OK, you’re not”, when really our message should be in the Biblical form, “no one’s OK, Jesus is” hence why we all need him. That’s the exclusive, yet humble message, and God has called hypocrites to share it with a dying world. The apostles admit they too were hypocrites! If someone’s not a Christian because we’re hypocrites then they should become the first non-hypocrite Christian. But they can’t do it! No one can!

In addition, we shouldn’t just talk the talk, nor just walk the walk, we should talk and walk. The Great Command is also to love God, and we’re not loving him if we’re not losing our lives for his gospel like we’re commanded. We’re also not loving others if we only walk the walk but don’t tell the the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation.



Charmaine Carter May 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm

I would only consider buying this book if I knew more about this man's philosophy. Questions I would need answered before I considered buying :

1. Who was God talking to when He said Let US create man in OUR image ? Genesis 1:27

2. Are women to submit to men ?

3. Why did Paul tell women they must remain silent in church ? Does this still apply today ? And if so why do many churches have women pastors ?

I may have more questions later. This will suffice for now.


Julia September 27, 2009 at 10:27 pm



telepathicpebble August 20, 2008 at 10:58 pm

Yes, I find it quite annoying when people try to convert me. They’re constantly trying. Sometimes they need to lay off. They even give me stares when I tell them “I currently have no religion, I’m undecided. But I am researching into Buddhism.”

I mean geez man, what’s up with that?


Diane L. Harris July 6, 2008 at 2:37 am

As a former Atheist who didn't surrender to Christ until the age of 44, I can list all sorts of influences that guided me in that direction. My friend Jackie probably planted the first seed by openly trying to push me toward Jesus, even bribing me with her Jamaican home-cooking to get me to church. In the end, believe it or not, being sucked into the world of Amway sales several years back finally did it. I don't know about all Amway-ites, but the group with which I was associated in Tennessee was full of supportive and smiling folk who frankly annoyed the heck out of me at first. But as I got to know several individuals and found out that they were Christians, even though they didn't evangelize in an overt way, I was forced to look at my own attitude and beliefs and to consider all I'd heard and read about Christ over the years and then to think for myself. I concluded that I need Him. I guess all sorts of approaches work on all sorts of people, but I am confident that we should act more as lighthouses to the lost than as firehoses against the mob.

Diane L. Harris


cool mum December 9, 2007 at 6:40 pm

I think about this topic a LOT and it seems like very few people are talking about it. I’m really looking forward to reading the book. Thanks!


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