This little book was Michael Green’s gift to Christendom. One of his chief objectives was to boost lay Christian believers in their grasp of the gospel message, and to give them the confidence to share their faith with others. The Rev. Canon Michael Green, PhD (1930-2019) was an Oxford theologian, Anglican priest, Christian Apologist, and the author of more than 50 books. As a teacher and speaker in demand by many Christian denominations, The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Green was rightly called a “World Asset” and was mentioned in Parliament as “a national treasure”—having ministered in many Christian denominations and on all 5 continents during his long career.
This little book was written to help new believers make the transition to the wholly different life on which they’ve embarked. The Way Forward stands as a bridge between the non-Christian, or the merely nominal church member, and those who are actively enjoying the warm relationships of fellowship in Christ. Surprisingly, there is a real shortage of materials that can be used to address the critical need of nurturing a new believer. This may be due to the emphasis in recent decades on process evangelism in which people are invited to join an inquirers class of some sort; whereas proclamation evangelism (i.e., preaching for decision) has fallen into disuse. But people do come to Christ after hearing (or paying attention to) the Gospel for the very first time – maybe at a meeting or on the radio or simply from a friend or fellow worker.
People often make a hesitant profession of faith that needs to be carefully nourished—but the quality and effectiveness of the after-care offered to those who step forward is either nonexistent or else it is typically weak and unsystematic. Why? In church circles today, the idea seems to be that new believers can fit easily into the regular worship of the church, though church culture is massively different from what many new believers are comfortable with. That a single person up front should speak uninterruptedly for many minutes is off-putting to people addicted to the instant gratification of Facebook or Twitter. (Nor is “fellowship time” at all like the easy interaction at a sports bar.) Clearly, new believers need some help if they are going to be able to adjust to the fresh world of being in Christ! (The need is just as critical on campuses, where Christians may be a very small proportion of the population and regarded as outsiders that don’t relate easily to all the rest who are caught up in the prevailing culture.)
There are recorded ways in which apostolic age Christians sought to nurture new believers, and by any comparison to them our own casual efforts fall short of the mark. The Way Forward is a short Foundations Course for new Christians, and is written for the benefit of any who are willing to lead such a course. It is designed to help the newest believer to get a good grasp on the basics of the faith, and then to begin to grow in Christ. Michael Green’s Christian Foundations Course (of which this book is a condensation) proved to be very fruitful, having been extensively tested in both church and university settings in America and the U.K. The Way Forward is aimed primarily at those who have recently come to personal faith in Christ, but is also of value for those who are seeking such a faith.