David Neff is Editor-in-Chief of the Christianity Today Media Group. Here is a brief history of his love affair with church history:
David first became aware of the drama of church history at age five, when his father took him to see the 1953 theatrical release Martin Luther. At age 22, as a first-year youth pastor, he bewildered his congregation by basing his first ever children's sermon on the martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Ten years later, at 32, he based another children's sermon on the death of a different martyr-Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna-and got a much better reception. That same year, he learned a lot by teaching an undergraduate survey course in church history, covering for a friend who was on sabbatical. At 37, David and his wife LaVonne were among spiritual pilgrims featured in Robert Webber's Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail. At 56, he became executive editor of Christian History and Biography, just in time to work on Issue 82, "Phoebe Palmer: Mother of the Holiness Movement." More recently, at age 60, David wrote a 7,000-word introduction to a 30th-anniversary edition of Robert Webber's Common Roots, the original call to ancient-future faith (to be released in a few months by Zondervan). Now 61, David wants to continue expanding the contemporary church's awareness of its rich history so that Christians can enrich their spiritual lives and (perhaps) avoid repeating the mistakes of earlier generations.
David and LaVonne love to travel. He has particularly enjoyed visiting church historical sites in England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Holland, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel , and the Palestinian territories. Because of their differing temperaments David calls his wife "Luther," while she calls him "Erasmus."