A new survey yields some concerning findings on evangelism in the modern era.
The study, conducted by Lifeway Research and commissioned by Evangelism Explosion, found that, while Christians express a willingness and even a desire to share faith, few have conveyed to others how to become a believer.
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Let’s explore some of the most surprising findings, their implications, and what it means for the American church:
Less Than Half Have Shared Biblical Content with Loved Ones
The first statistic that stands out surrounds the proportion of self-identified Christians who have shared a Bible verse or Bible story with a non-Christian loved one sometime over the past six months.
Just 46% have shared a verse or story, and 43% have invited a non-Christian loved one to church services or a church program.
While these proportions are relatively low, the statistic surrounding sharing how to be a believer is even more eye-opening.
Just under Four-in-10 Have Shared the Salvation Message
When it comes to self-described Christians sharing how to become a believer, just 38% report doing so for a friend or family member over the past six months.
While this might seem alarming, one must consider an important caveat: friends and loved ones remain in our lives for a great deal of time.
Thus, it’s possible believers have shared with those close to them at some point before the past six months, though the low proportion does still register as an area of concern worth addressing.
Speaking With Non-Christians About Salvation
Coming off an era of intense social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems Christians aren’t sharing as fervently as they could be with non-Christians they do not know personally.
While 40% reported speaking with these individuals about faith, just 34% invited someone they don’t know to church, and only 30% discussed how to become a believer.
And 39% shared a story about “what God has done in their lives,” according to Lifeway.
On Living Out the Great Commission
This matters because sharing the soul-saving Gospel message is a central call for every believer.
Jesus made His commandment clear to the disciples: they were to go out and spread the Gospel throughout all the world. This call has continued in the lives of Christians over the past two millennia.
Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV) reads:
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
So, when it comes to evangelizing, what did Lifeway find? As it turns out, 39% of Christians are willing to evangelize, and 15% are eager. While these proportions amount to more than half of self-described believers, the statistics on the other side are profoundly concerning.
Three in ten (29%) are neutral, 18% are reluctant, and 11% are indifferent, with a totality of 58% of self-described Christians either remaining neutral or having a negative feeling about evangelizing.
This is concerning, considering the clear call we see from Christ in Matthew 28.
A Lack of Familiarity
The final statistic worth pointing out is 66% of self-described Christians report they “aren’t familiar with any methods of telling others about Jesus.”
Again, considering Jesus’ mandate to spread the Gospel throughout all of the world, this is yet another finding that should spark some intense introspection among believers.
These statistics paint a shocking picture that should reorient pastors, church leaders, and believers alike.
“Now, perhaps more than ever, people are open to conversations about faith, yet this study reveals few Christians actually take the opportunity to engage in personal evangelism,” John Sorensen, president of Evangelism Explosion, said in a statement. “Our mission at EE is to equip followers of Jesus to have the confidence to share the Gospel naturally, lovingly, and intentionally with family, friends, and yes, even strangers, which is why we wanted insights on the evangelistic attitudes of Christians. We imagine a world where every believer is a witness for Christ to His glory.
Lifeway Research executive director Scott McConnell added that, though many believers agree it’s essential to share their faith, “many also need encouragement and to be shown how.”
With so many struggling to speak out, fewer hear the Gospel message. This seems particularly pertinent in a culture desperate for truth — an ever-secularizing civilization in which younger people are more disconnected from faith. Let’s continue to pray for our faith leaders and churches to rise and meet these spiritual needs.
The survey was conducted among 1,011 American Christians using an online survey.