Michael Green, professor of evangelism and New Testament at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has just been appointed by England’s archbishops of Canterbury and York to give senior leadership in evangelism for the Anglican Church, beginning next fall. He wrote Evangelism in the Early Church, and I Believe in the Holy Spirit, along with numerous other books. His newest book is Evangelism Through the Local Church (to be released by Oliver Nelson in January). He spoke with CHRISTIANITY TODAY associate features editor Timothy Jones about obstacles and opportunities for creative evangelism facing churches and their members.
Is it harder to share faith now than it was in the first century, when the early Christians carried the message to Greeks and Jews and Romans?
In some ways it is. Familiarity—almost two thousand years’ worth—breeds contempt. Add to that our increasingly secular context. And perhaps the biggest snag is the lifestyle of the Christians. Recent research in Canada and the U.S. shows that our lifestyle is not discernibly different from that of anybody else. When Christians talk about the unity that Christ gives but churches split over the most microscopic things, when Christian life shows none of the joy and the resurrection power of Jesus—then people who hear our message say, “Tell me another.”
Still, I’d say we have got it a lot easier than the first Christians. Just imagine trying to start off as a Jew preaching the gospel of a crucified peasant you claimed was God’s almighty deliverer of the nation.
Or try telling a Gentile—who reads Plato and Aristotle, who deals with major concepts like justice and truth and beauty—that all ...1
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