“What's the first thing you want to do after you experience a defining moment? Share it! It's natural to want others to experience what we love. Unfortunately, when it comes to evangelism in American, this instinct is fading fast. Christians are losing a desire to share their faith.” These words sum up the results of a detailed survey and study recently released by the Barna Group called Reviving Evangelism.
Here's a few key findings:
Nearly half of all Millennial practicing Christians say it is wrong to evangelize.
Half of all Christian adults report having 2 or fewer conversations about
faith with a non-Christian during the past year.
Most adult Christians in the U.S. Have fewer than 2-3 non-christian friends.
But here is some good news:
The majority of non-Christians would welcome conversations about faith.
Young non-Christians talk about spiritual matters a lot more than older adults and are twice as likely to express personal interest in Christianity. They are looking for Christians who can listen without judgment and who do not force a conclusion.
More than 2/3 of all practicing Christians still believe the best thing that could happen to a friend is for them to find Jesus.
Craig Springer, the director of Alpha for North America draws some important conclusions for the church's witnessing in the future.
Faith sharing needs to emphasize more conversations and more listening over straight proclamation. Building relationships of trust and friendship with others is key.
Sharing personal experiences of faith is more effective than explanations of the faith.
To put it in a nutshell, effective faith sharing in this century needs to become more personal, interactive and conversational. In the Long Hollow Baptist Church outside of Nashville where I attended a conference recently. I noted a huge clear Lucite container on the wall filled with ping pong balls. Each ball had a first name written on it with a sharpie. A sign encouraged church members to write the name of a non-Christian friend that they'd had a spiritual conversation with the past week. The obvious point was to motivate and encourage more of these conversations in their daily lives and then to enlist the whole church in praying over these names.
All Christians in America need deeper convictions about faith-sharing and making disciples as central to the mission of the Church. We must build our witness on the solid confidence that Christianity is true and good. Our strategy going forward is to get better at conversation; get better at listening to people's questions and get better at making and building relationships outside our circle of church friends. The good news is that most of the non-Christian world actually wants us to have faith conversations with us. Take a step of faith. Just walk across the room and introduce yourself to someone you don't know at work, or school or your neighborhood. The Holy Spirit waits to walk across the bridges we build with new friends!