In my last post I mentioned Jim White leading the first church planting conference I ever attended. It was at Mecklenberg Community Church in Charlotte back in 1998.
I want to mention something that impacted me at that conference that plays into the Acts 2 vs. Acts 17 discussion today.
Pastor White said that we have to change our methods of evangelism because the culture has changed. On a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is an absolute atheist and 10 is a Christ follower, most people in the 50's, 60's and even into the early 70's were already at a 7 or 8. They had a belief in basic tenants of the Christian faith. Many of them even spent time in church as a child. If someone shared a gospel presentation or a tract with them, it was not difficult for them to be able to put all the pieces together to make the jump from a 7 or 8 to a 10.
Today, we live in a different world. Most 20 and 30-somethings have no church background and don't have a basic understanding of and belief in the basics of the Christian faith. They are at a 2 or 3 maybe a 4 on the scale. We can't expect them to make a jump from 3 to 10 in 30 minute discussion with a stranger. I think that their are two reasons for this. First, they just don't accept an argument from a Bible they have no reason to believe. And second, they are more concerned with the practical perception they have of Christianity being about a bunch of rules quoted by hypocrites.
The 1950's through the early 1970's represented an Acts 2 culture. They had a belief and acceptance of God. They just needed to understand who Jesus was and how He related to their lives. Our culture today, is more like that of the Greeks and Romans. People are generally looking for anything that they believe will add value to their lives.
Paul talked about their unknown god and showed them how the one true God adds value to their lives. He only had a few immediate followers in comparison to the 3000 at Pentecost, but he started something that day that spread throughout the Greek and Roman world and into Europe and ultimately to many parts of the world. It did not happen overnight but it did change the course of human history.