We think things are bad in the 21st century and indeed they are, but the world of the first century was a challenging place for Christians to share the gospel. They lived under the jurisdiction of the godless and powerful Roman Empire. Immorality was rampant. Divorce was widespread. And in cities like Corinth, prostitutes openly walked the streets.
Then there was the religious establishment, which was largely corrupt. Idolatry, spiritism, and demon worship were openly practiced. Everywhere there were temples erected to false gods. And everywhere the believers went, bringing the message of the gospel, they were harassed, ridiculed, persecuted, physically assaulted, and in some cases, even put to death.
Yet within a relatively short period of time—30 years or so—the original 120 followers of Christ and their converts changed the world.
Two hundred years after the birth of the church, Tertullian, an early church father, wrote this statement about the impact of the gospel: "We have filled every place belonging to you, cities, islands, castles, towns, assemblies, your very camp, your tribes, companies, palace, senate, forum! We leave you your temples only." There was no stone that had been left unturned. There was no corner where the gospel had not gone. The early believers invaded their culture. And although the Roman Empire eventually crumbled, the gospel prevailed.
So how were the first-century Christians able to do it? They understood a simple secret: every man and every woman was part of the team, if you will. Ministry was not just for a select few who were called apostles. Ministry was for everyone. Everyone was to go and bring this message to their generation and to their sphere of influence. And we have the same task before us today.