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A New and Ancient Evangelism

Rediscovering the Ways God Calls and Sends

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Evangelism has a bad reputation. It's been loaded with sales tactics, market analysis, and high-pressure psychology, an approach that often flattens other cultures and dishonors those we want to reach. Evangelizers are encouraged to believe that everything depends on their understanding of the gospel and their powers of persuasion. No wonder so few people want to get involved in sharing the faith.

This book recovers the ancient tradition of the church's evangelism, rooted in the conversion stories of the Bible, to offer a truly biblical understanding of evangelism. Drawing on twenty-five years of experience teaching evangelism to laypeople and ministry students, Judith Paulsen shows that God uses ordinary people of faith within their everyday spheres of influence to draw people to himself. She helps readers share the good news in a way that is authentic, respectful, and ideally suited to the cultural dynamics of today's world. Above all, she places the real work of evangelism where it belongs: with the God who is still at work calling people to himself.

This book will be a valuable resource for professors and students in evangelism, discipleship, and missional theology courses as well as pastors and church leaders. Discussion questions are included.

1. The Conversion of Someone Who Had Never Seen
2. The Conversion of a Seeker Cut Off from God
3. The Conversion of Friends, Family, and Students
4. The Conversion of a God-Fearing Outsider
5. The Conversion of a Desperate General
6. The Conversion of a Prison Warden
7. The Conversion of a Child Prophet
8. The Conversion of a Religious Extremist
9. The Conversion of a Successful Businessperson
10. Conversion within a Crowd
11. The Conversion of a Tormented Soul
12. The Great Commission Revisited
13. How and Why Jesus Sends Us Out as His Church
Appendix: Experiments for Your Church to Try


"Whether used as a textbook for courses in evangelism, as a study guide for small groups, or as a helpful catalyst for individual Christians, I believe this book will help equip the church for its mission of introducing people to Jesus and the life that can only be found in and through him."

Ed Stetzer, dean, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"If truth be told, the majority of Christians in the West are not sharing their faith with anyone. We are in sore need of a fresh examination of evangelism. Judith Paulsen's A New and Ancient Evangelism is that foundational text. No stone is left unturned, no pathway is ignored, as she walks us patiently through the conversion stories of Scripture to a new imagination for what evangelism can be in the post-Christendom worlds of the West. Comprehensive, engaging, profoundly theological. Read Paulsen's book and become awakened to what God is doing all around you in bringing the world to himself."

David Fitch, Lindner Chair of Theology, Northern Seminary; author of Faithful Presence

"Judith Paulsen reignites our passion for evangelism. By showing that the conversion stories of the Bible offer a relational model for sharing the good news, A New and Ancient Evangelism invites Christians to freely participate in God's redemptive work by investing in respectful and compassionate relationships. Drawing on years of experience, Paulsen provides practical experiments of hospitality as a refreshing reminder that the triune God still cares deeply for the world and continues to transform."

Marilyn Draper, associate professor of practical theology, Tyndale Seminary

"Many Christians in the West struggle to articulate their faith with sensitivity and integrity in a pluralistic and secular world. Judith Paulsen draws on her many years of teaching evangelism to offer a thoughtful and theological approach that equips people for witness, using stories of conversion from Scripture. Paulsen's work is a gift to those in both the church and the academy, helping to recover the e-word for our liturgical lexicon, while clarifying the role of human and divine agency in the triune God's active, saving, transforming presence in the world."

Ross A. Lockhart, dean, St. Andrew's Hall and professor of mission studies, Vancouver School of Theology

"My world collided with Dr. Paulsen when I was her student in an evangelism class at Wycliffe College, Toronto. She has always had a way of inviting us all into sharing good news in a historically grounded yet imaginative way for our times. She is honest about our current realities in the Western church, yet she remains almost whimsical to the ways that Jesus can transcend it all and change the human heart."

Joanna la Fleur, marketing and communications director, Alpha Canada

"I'm one of those people Paulsen identifies at the beginning of this wonderful book: not interested in a book on evangelism. But I read on and was amazingly rewarded. This is a book of stories and encounters. It's about the stories of people encountering Jesus in many different ways. Paulsen helps us see the relational power of God at work through everyday circumstances and ordinary people. She invites us into reflective spaces around how we can join with Jesus in calling others to life. This is a book on evangelism I am more than happy to recommend."

Alan James Roxburgh, The Missional Network

"With A New and Ancient Evangelism, Judy Paulsen succeeds in what feels like the near-impossible task of making evangelism seem less scary and off-putting. With her gentle urging, evangelism sounds almost joyful. Sharing faith feels doable and may even be an appealing prospect after reading this warm and engaging book. Paulsen's refreshing reexamination of the conversion stories in Scripture helps guide the reader to trust their own instincts and experience to more naturally share their faith in God. The 'Experiments for Your Church to Try' section that ends the book will help readers put their new confidence to work immediately."

Karen Stiller, author of Holiness Here: Searching for God in the Ordinary Events of Everyday Life and The Minister's Wife: A Memoir of Faith, Doubt, Friendship, Loneliness, Forgiveness, and More

The Author

  1. Judith Paulsen

    Judith Paulsen

    Judith Paulsen (DMin, Fuller Theological Seminary) has served for over a decade as professor of evangelism at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, in Toronto, Ontario. She previously directed the Institute of Evangelism at Wycliffe. A daughter of...

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