A recent study conducted by Barna Group noticed a decline in Christians evangelizing in others. Scripture tells us to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15. So why aren’t we?
“Sharing Faith Is Increasingly Optional to Christians” was the title of the study, and was a follow-up to the one conducted in 1993. It revealed a change in the statistics, and noted that 89% of Christians felt that it was the responsibility of every Christian to share their faith. Today, it is only 64%. Today’s Christians feel it is the responsibility of the church to engage in evangelism- not the individual.
Additionally, of those who do evangelize, their approach has changed. In 1993, it was about accepting Jesus, and how He changes your life in addition to sharing your own testimony with others. Today, it is asking about the beliefs of others and sharing your own. Sharing your testimony came at a closer second.
Many Christians cite that social barriers are the reason for the change in how they evangelize. In 1993, Christians were more pro-active in sharing their faith, while 25 years later, Christians tend to share their faith with those who they have a pre-existing relationship with. They would also avoid a discussion on religion if they felt that their non-Christian friend would reject them, and 28% of Christians felt that most non-Christians are not interested in hearing about Jesus.
Views Of The Non-Christian On Evangelizing
Non-Christians are more cautious when it comes to receiving the gospel. 7% felt that it was unacceptable to discuss religion in today’s society. The reason? They didn’t want to discuss anything that they perceived would be disrespectful or judgemental (61%). Almost half of the people interviewed said that this is the top reason why they are cautious with someone sharing their faith.
What Is Going On?
These changes in trends may be indicative of the social changes that have been imposed on faith as a whole that have changed the dynamic. The changes really appear to indicate a shift in how we do what we do- not that we have decided not to evangelize to others. The results seem to indicate that we just do it differently, and are forced to be less direct. While most Christians fear being persecuted/rejected by non-believers, and that they aren’t interested in hearing about Jesus, overall results seem to indicate that they don’t want to feel disrespected or judged by others. In short, they may not want to be “preached” to, but understood. The results seem to indicate that the resistance to hearing faith isn’t based in the sanctions that society has imposed as much as how the message is being delivered.
We would love to hear your thoughts on changes in evangelizing!