Acts 17 Approach Works in Non-Christian World

by Ken Ham

I met a group of disillusioned American missionaries during my recent trip to England. After years of attempting evangelistic outreaches and trying to start churches, they had concluded they needed to pull out.

Why? They explained to me how hard it was to get most people in England to even listen to the Christian message. England was, for them, a "lost cause."

At the same time, after speaking to packed auditoriums in England and Wales, I heard numerous testimonies of people who had committed their lives to the Lord-or Christians whose faith was "kick-started"-as a result of God using Answers in Genesis (AiG) ministry.

As I have shared at our conferences, the difference between what the American missionaries experienced and what AiG has witnessed in its outreaches in England (i.e. two totally different results) is not difficult to explain.

You see, most missionary organizations, Bible colleges, seminaries, etc., in America train missionaries to use the "Acts 2 approach." This method is based on how the Apostle Peter preached to the Jews (people who believed in the God of creation, and understood the meaning of sin and the Fall)-boldly presenting a message of Christ's death/resurrection, and the need to repent and put faith in Christ for salvation.

In the "Acts 17 approach," Paul used a different method. In this approach, Paul had success in preaching to the Greeks. The Greeks were outright pagans who had no knowledge of the true God, or an understanding of the meaning of sin and the Fall, etc., as the Jews did. The Greeks basically dismissed that message as foolish.

But when Paul explained who the real God is (the God of creation), and laid the foundation of the gospel about all of us being descendants of one man, Adam (thus explaining the origin of sin and the need for salvation), and then dismantled their belief in pagan gods, he then presented the salvation message. They began to respond.

I believe that one of the reasons many missionaries (and the millions of dollars to train them) have not been that effective overall in many cultures is that they were educated to use the Acts 2 approach. Furthermore, many missionaries have been taught by most college and seminary professors to think that Genesis is not important and/or they have compromised with millions of years/evolution.

Because most English churches (and here, too) have compromised with Genesis and basically just concentrated on the New Testament (allowing generations in the church to believe the world's teaching, like millions of years), the majority of Britain's population no longer sees the Bible as credible in this "scientific age."

When the typical Acts 2/Peter approach is used in such a culture (i.e. without a Genesis foundation), people are less likely to respond. I wasn't surprised, then, to recently read that attendance at British mosques had surpassed the attendance at Church of England services! Overall, church attendance is down to 7.5 percent.

It would make a phenomenal difference if missionaries and the church adopted an Acts 17 approach to evangelism in our post-Christian world. In England I met:

<![if !supportLists]> <![endif]>A university student who informed me that after reading AiG's booklet Is There Really A God? he committed his life to the Lord.

<![if !supportLists]> <![endif]>A man, beaming from ear to ear, who told me that his wife had obtained a set of our videos. He decided he was going to watch the creation videos to critique them. He watched them, and became a Christian!

My friend, we see these sorts of responses every day-across the world. The Acts 17 evangelism method works, and is vital if God's people are to reach the lost.

It's not a hopeless cause to evangelize cultures like England-and America. We're finding that as more of God's people are armed and equipped with creation materials, they're reaching out to others with the gospel-and the results follow.

Ken Ham is president of Answers in Genesis

AiG's Website is

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