Study: The State of Evangelism in America (And It’s Not Good)

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As described in the book of Acts, nothing could stop the early church from sharing the good news of the gospel. Christians were beaten, ostracized, slandered, and even murdered for their refusal to stop proclaiming the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The New Testament emphasizes evangelism to reach the lost with the news that “nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Yet sadly, according to a new study, only 20% of American adults feel they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with others.

The Great Commission? It’s Not for Me

Only 2 in 10 adults from the general population think that sharing their faith is their personal responsibility. Now this is the general population, so the respondents could belong to any religion. But when the researchers singled out Christians, they found that only one quarter of Christians “believe they are called to promote the gospel.” But the Bible makes it clear we are to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).

More than one in four theologically conservative pastors don’t believe they have a responsibility to share the gospel.

And it’s not just the lay population of Christians who aren’t applying the Great Commission to themselves. More than one in four theologically conservative pastors don’t believe they have a responsibility to share the gospel. No wonder many Christians aren’t sharing the gospel—their pastors don’t believe it’s a priority or even their responsibility!

The study also found that, if people are sharing their faith, they probably aren’t sharing a biblical version of the good news.

Among the concepts most likely to be shared by conservative believers are that people are basically good; that having some faith is more important than the substance of that faith; that God exists and is omnipotent and omniscient but that humankind has evolved from other life forms; He remains aware of what happens in the universe and is involved in our lives; there is absolute moral truth but it is located in various places; eternal security can be assured either through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ or by doing enough good deeds to earn God’s favor; a person’s life can be considered “successful” based upon the personal goals accomplished; the Bible is the reliable Word of God; Jesus understands our struggle because He sinned while on earth; and that sin is real but Satan and the Holy Spirit are not.

Preaching a gospel other than the gospel revealed through Christ and the Scriptures is nothing short of a false gospel, and Scripture has severe warnings for those who do not present the truth of the gospel (Galatians 1:6–12).

What Does the Bible Say?

For those who don’t feel called to promote the gospel, let’s see what the Bible—the authority for our life and practice—says:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19–20)

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:13–15)

Every Christian has a personal responsibility to reach a dying world with the good news of the life Jesus offers!

Pastors—Teach Your Flock to Share the Gospel

The researchers estimate there are “perhaps 70,000 churches in the US with biblically solid, evangelistic pastors. A concentrated effort by those pastors at boldly, clearly, and consistently proclaiming the gospel could certainly be the basis of a spiritual rebound in America.”

Pastors, don’t just assume

  1. your flock knows the biblical gospel and can articulate it to others. According to other research, only 10% of American adults have a biblical worldview. This means that the majority of Christians don’t know what the Bible teaches on the most basic Christian doctrines
  2. your flock understands the urgency and importance of sharing the gospel. Many Christians have fallen prey to our “all religions lead to Heaven” culture, and they simply don’t grasp the exclusivity of the Christian message: “I [Jesus] am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)
  3. your flock understands that the Great Commission applies to them personally. As believers, it is their responsibility to share the gospel with others. They need to be trained in how to effectively communicate the gospel to others.

I encourage pastors, Christian leaders, and parents to intentionally instill a biblical worldview, including a personal conviction for evangelism, in those under your care and influence. The lost world needs to hear the good news, and we—the church—are the ones God has chosen to share His message. So get out there and share it!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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