Last night we premiered our short documentary Re-Thinking Evangelism, which shares the story of one local church who radically re-thought how they shared the Gospel and the many lives that were changed as a result. (Watch it here, if you haven’t yet!)
If you’ve watched the film already, you probably noticed we shared a lot of stats. As we wrote the script, we wanted to make sure the claims we made about evangelism were based in reality. How do unchurched people actually feel about faith? How do Christians really feel about sharing their faith? And what kind of evangelism even works today?
We read a number of excellent studies that were chock-full of powerful stats, some encouraging and some convicting. We want to share these studies with you and encourage you to peruse them at your convenience.
What do the unchurched think?
Want to know what the people outside the church actually think about us? Read their own words! In 2016, Lifeway conducted a fascinating study of unchurched people in America.
- Unchurched people are NOT coming back to church. 66% said they were unlikely to attend a church service anytime soon (49% very unlikely to attend a church service).
- Unchurched people ARE interested in faith. A whopping 79% said, “If a friend of mine really values their faith, I don’t mind talking about it with them.”
How do young adult Christians feel about evangelism?
This report outlines some interesting, and seemingly contradictory, opinions about evangelism among Millennial Christians (those born from 1984 – 1998).
- Millennial Christians know more unbelievers (close friends or family members) than older generations.
- Almost every single one of them believes sharing the Gospel is a part of their the Christian faith (96%).
- Millennial Christians were also the most confident in being able to share their faith compared to other generations (73%).
- And yet… 47% believe that it’s wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share that faith.
So why the contradiction between theory and practice of evangelism among Millennial Christians? Read the study here.
How have Christians’ opinions about evangelism changed since 1993?
An interesting 25-year comparison from Barna Research.
- Christians increasingly believe that evangelism is the local church’s job, not a personal responsibility. (10% in 1993 to 29% in 2018).
- In contrast, Christians today are more likely to proactively look for opportunities to share the Gospel. (11% in 1993 to 19% in 2018).
- This study also includes nonChristians opinions on the type of Christians they prefer to talk to about faith.
The difference between what Christians say and what they do
Although it’s a bit older than some of the other studies, this is still a fascinating examination of the discrepancy between what Christians say they believe about sharing their faith and what they actually do to share their faith.
- 73% of Christians believed it was their responsibility to share their faith.
- Yet only 52% of them had actually shared their faith at least once with someone in the last year.
- Millennials were the only age group where the percentage of those evangelizing was increasing.
You may find these studies discouraging, challenging, or surprisingly optimistic. I believe they all show that the Gospel is still as powerful as ever and that people are still as hungry for hope as ever. My biggest takeaway is that Christians, now more than ever, need intentional training and tools to be able to share their faith with their friends: tools based in the truth of Scripture and the community found in personal relationships.
This is Christianity Explored North America’s mission. Ready to re-think evangelism? Get started at www.christianityexplored.us.