I recently came across a survey question that was asked of church goers in the United Stares. The question was asked in a statement asking them to agree/disagree. The statement was “I intentionally spend time building friendships with non-Christians for the purpose of sharing Christ with them?” I was deeply disappointed to discover that only 7 percent of respondents said they “strongly agreed” with the statement, and another 18 percent “agreed somewhat.” In fact I was so disappointed that I felt it was worth my time to write a post about it!
To think that only seven out of one hundred churchgoers can strongly affirm this statement is disturbing. No wonder most churches in America are declining or on a plateau. When looking at responses of other related questions in the survey I was even more shocked to find that when these same people were asked if they felt that it was their personal responsibility to share Christ with others 46 percent agreed strongly! A huge discrepancy is apparent. While 46 percent “agreed strongly” that it is their responsibility to share Christ, only 7 percent actually work on building bridges to do so.
We all may know it is true, but good intentions are not enough. Intellectual assent is not the same as actually putting feet to our intentions. As we sadly see in this survey, the intention to engage in gospel conversation with others that we daily encounter often fails. It points out the principle that there is no merit in good intentions unless they are acted on.
Another question asked to these same people was “How much do you agree/disagree: While interacting with others on a normal, daily basis, I seek opportunities to speak out about Jesus Christ?” The response to this question was only minimally better than the previous one: 10 percent said they “strongly agreed,” while 25 percent “agreed somewhat.” To state it another way, only ten out of one hundred regular churchgoers consistently seek opportunities to share Christ.
These answers to these questions were rather devastating and surprising discovery to me. I work daily in ministry and part of my vision, mission and goal for ministry is to disciple, equip and mobilize the church to make disciples among the incarcerated. The very goal of my ministry “disciples making disciples” is the very thing many Christians least desire to engage in, why? Why do so many struggle sharing Jesus with those they encounter? Why do so many have good intentions but fail to act on them? Perhaps we need to spend more time helping people understand the importance of relational evangelism. Maybe we need to share more success stories of one friend reaching another. Perhaps we need to allow more opportunities to share how God has used ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.
These questions led me to ask several Christians that I serve with what they thought could be the reason for these survey results. The following are several of their answers.
- The fear of being ridiculed, disapproved, rejected and persecuted by the world, especially those close to us. Also, to avoid harassments, to avoid debates that can end whatever relationship yours in, friend, work, social situations, networks, neighbors, etc.
- They don’t feel or think that they are qualified. Because their personal walk with the Lord is suffering, and they feel inadequate or hypocritical.
- Complacency, lack of compassion and passion, spiritual laziness. Also the fact that some Christians focus on what Jesus can do for them and not what they can do for Jesus. Discomfort, costs time and sacrifice, it’s not in the routine.
- Too many worry about “political correctness”. It’s not politically correct anymore to share your faith.
- Influenced by worldly culture. They have believed the lie that they are “pushing” their beliefs on someone. They think belief is a private matter instead of going out to make disciples. They would rather stay quiet then offend someone.
Friends, Christians must be taught, trained, and challenged to take the gospel to lost and unchurched people in their lives. Before Jesus sent out seventy followers to share the good news, He explained: “After this, the Lord appointed 70 others, and He sent them ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place where He Himself was about to go. He told them: ‘The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.'” (Luke 10:1-2) With so few Christians seeking opportunities, it is easy to conclude that we have lost our vision for the harvest God has prepared. We should be greatly encouraged that God always goes before us and is our witness. He is the One who changes the human mind and heart. Our part is simply to testify faithfully to the gospel’s truthfulness. Let’s make it our mission to encourage others to not let fear, complacency, worry and the culture around us keep us from fulfilling our Lords command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.
*Surveys were taken from the book “The Shape Of Faith To Come” by, Brad J. Waggoner