LIfeWay Research (2012) indicates that “61 percent of evangelical Christians do not share their faith regularly” – even though they believe it is their responsibility to do so. Further, nearly half of those who responded to the LifeWay survey said they have not invited a non-Christian friend to church in the past six months.
That’s frightening, unsettling, distressing, disappointing, concerning, alarming… I’ve got a whole list of adjectives and adverbs that I could wrap around this one! And when we butt this body of research up against a study by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in collaboration with LifeWay (2009), we find that “67 percent of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church. Another 63% say a personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would be effective. This same study reports that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a family member, and 56 percent are very or somewhat willing to receive such information from a friend or neighbor.” A similar LifeWay study summarized in Discipleship Journal (2008) reported 75% would be wlling to listen to someone talk about his/her Christian beliefs and 78% would enjoy an honest conversations with a friend about spiritual beliefs even if they had other beliefs.
Enough of the numbers; let’s cut to the point best summarized by Ed Stetzer, vice president of LifeWay Research and Ministry Development, “[M]any of your unchurched friends are ready for an invitation to conversation.” THIS is clearly the point for the question raised in Romans 10:14 (NLT), “But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?
Who have YOU told lately? With whom have YOU shared the good news of God’s Gospel?
Let me share another tidbit from the 2009 LifeWay data. “Out of 13 approaches tested, personal invitations from family members or friends is the only method that a majority of Americans say would effectively draw them to church.” Television, radio and newspaper all have an impact as do visits from congregational teams, but the most effective method is one-on-one personal communication with a family member or friend. Church advertising and outreach methods clearly take a back seat to personal testimony and invitations. And consider one final extract from LifeWay’s data, “At particular points in life, people are more open to considering matters of faith, the survey (2009) found. The Christmas season is the most common time for people to be open to spiritual matters. Nearly half (47 percent) are more open to considering matters of faith at Christmas. Americans are also open to matters of faith during the Easter season (38 percent).”
Hebrews 3:15 cautions us not to harden our hearts when we hear while James 1:22 admonishes us to be doers of the word. And we know that Matthew 28:19 commands us to go, teach and make disciples. I’m thinking perfect storm – THIS is the ideal time for you to hear this word just weeks before Easter, the season when many hearts are open and eager to hear God’s truth. THIS is the ideal time for you to share!
THIS WEEK pray asking the Holy Spirit to lead you to the right opportunity and the right methodology to share your faith. Unsure how to get started? Explore the following resources. Share your experiences as well as your encouragement for others using our blog’s comment feature!
Share Your Faith App: http://shareyourfaithapp.com/
How to Share Your Faith (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association): http://billygraham.org/grow-your-faith/how-to-share-your-faith/tools/
Roman Road (Teen Mission International): http://www.teenmissions.org/resources/roman-road-to-salvation/
FAITH Outline: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lifeway.com%2Fev%2Ffiles%2FevF_min_FAITH_VisitOutline.pdf&ei=4_AFVdywOoifNsXvg4gJ&usg=AFQjCNEgBlAI91LGBT5nxvukphTU6VdBdg&sig2=_vrcHO9_89NTcfsxCAfQtg