The News Is Good: Professor’s Book a Testimony of Life in Christ

Steve Case headshot

Steve Case

March 21, 2024 Academics, Accolades, Theology

“I had been working on the book for several years before I actually started writing it,” admits Dr. Jeff Stark, director of graduate programming for Olivet’s School of Theology and Christian Ministry, about his first book. “It’s given words to what I’ve felt were possibilities for a long time.”

Dr. Stark wrote The News Is Good: Evangelism as a Way of Life, published early last year, partly as a response to his transition from traditional ministry to urban missionary work in Chicago in 2019.

“I found myself in a city of nearly 3 million, and I had to think and feel through what that meant, what my new ministry role was,” says Dr. Stark, an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene who has over 20 years of ministry experience and serves as a coach and consultant for ministers and church planters.

The writing process was dynamic and linked to how he was living out the theme of the book himself.

“Everything I do is telling a story,” Dr. Stark recounts, “whether that be preaching, teaching or writing.”

He put most of the story of The News Is Good onto page in the coffee shop that is featured prominently in the book, working behind his laptop screen and in between conversations with patrons and baristas.

“All the baristas — many who did not have a positive relationship with the Church or Christianity — would ask me how the book was coming,” he says. “I’d laugh and tell them that they wouldn’t like it, that they wouldn’t want to read it when I was done. Then they’d say, ‘But we like you and, if it matters to you, then we’re interested.’”

His book is a call to reconceptualize evangelism.

“Somewhere along the line, and with the best of intentions, evangelism came to be seen as a program and a method,” he explains. “And with that came the tendency to see sharing the Gospel in terms of convincing or confrontation, not grounded in relationships.”

The News Is Good, by contrast, portrays evangelism as a way of life and a call to relationship. Dr. Stark argues that evangelism is less a program and more a process of allowing God to leverage one’s personality, networks and relationships to share the Gospel. The book provides a structure for living out the Gospel with intentionality in community.

“I want people to read this and realize that’s what they’re already doing with their neighbors,” he says. “I long for the day when people will tell me, for instance, ‘I’m good-newsing a family whose son is part of my son’s baseball team.’”

The News Is Good is written for everyday Christians who want to know what it means to carry Christ into their daily lives. The work, which offers practical guidance on how to build relationships and invest in community, is, as Dr. Stark explains it, his own origin story in Christianity and how he “was mentored into the Church.” Grounded in Scripture and personal experience, the book outlines through stories of connection and relationship different aspects of witnessing and ways to ensure that one’s witness is patient, credible and just.

“I imagine a Christian who has been working in a factory for 19 years,” Dr. Stark says. “My hope is this will give them vision for their own vocation — that they’ll be able to go back into the factory and say, ‘This is why I’m here; I’m bringing the good news to those around me in how I live and work alongside them.’”

Dr. Stark pauses when asked what he wants readers to take away from the text.

“It’s what I say at the end of a sermon,” he finally offers. “The readers are the next chapter.”

If the news is good — and Dr. Stark knows that it is — then his readers will carry it forward, into the world around them.

Steve Case headshot

Steve Case

Dr. Steve Case ’05 is an author and professor at Olivet, where he teaches in the Department of Chemistry and the Geosciences and is director of the university Honors Program.

Dr. Case holds a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. from the University of Mississippi, and a B.S., from Olivet Nazarene University.

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