Based on a recent survey of American church attendees LifeWay, an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “When it comes to discipleship, churchgoers struggle most with sharing Christ with non-Christians.” LifeWay’s research department “found 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.”
I am sure these figures are not isolated to SBC churches. I am confident all pastors want their people sharing their faith actively and effectively, but that does not appear to be the case. If we believe there are a heaven to be gained and a hell to be shunned, then the burden is on the church to get the message out and the pastor cannot do it alone. What are some of the obstacles to sharing our faith?
We have been told that one should never discuss “politics, religion, or sex” in polite company or social situations because of the controversial nature of each of these subjects. We are told that one’s beliefs are a personal matter and should not be intruded upon. These and similar thoughts pose a barrier for some in telling others of Christ, but the truth is there is a time and place for everything. There are appropriate times to share our faith without being intrusive or obnoxious; God provides them.
As I pondered the reasons why many do not share their faith, three came quickly to mind.
One reason is some Christians either do not know or are unsure of how to share their faith. I know because I once struggled with how to share the greatest story ever told and what Christ has done for me. But I learned how to do one-on-one evangelism and you can too. There are several methods and materials available to teach believers how to courteously and effectively share their faith.
Another reason some do not speak with others about their testimony is because they do not have one. The program I learned requires the student to write out his testimony of his salvation experience so that it can be condensed and shared in two to three minutes. The purpose of such an exercise is to formulate what your experience is in Christ, commit it to writing so that it can be condensed and articulated when witnessing to someone.
One of the interesting outcomes of this exercise is that some who were taking this course recognized they could not recall a time in their lives when they had given their life to Christ. This led them to accepting Christ during the course. They now had a testimony that could be committed to writing and now had this missing element added to their witnessing.
Some think going to church or merely giving mental assent to the historical existence of Christ is the same as trusting Christ and they are wrong. It is only in trusting in the atoning work of Jesus Christ that someone can be transformed into a new creation. As the song says, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”
The last reason that crossed my mind is the one of most concern; some do not care that others are lost and don’t know Christ. President of LifeWay Research, Ed Stetzer, said, “We often acknowledge the importance of prayer in people coming to faith in Christ, but we also found it has an impact on the person praying.” I have often said prayer changes things and the thing that changes most when I pray is me. One cannot pray for the lost in any meaningful way and remain unchanged when considering their plight. I seriously question someone’s relationship to Christ who is unconcerned for those who do not know Him.
The responsibility and the privilege of fulfilling the Great Commission were not given to the institutions of education, industry or government. They were given to the Church, and that means it was given to us who claim to be Christians. It is my prayer that believers will take the words of Christ seriously. Just as the best advertising is word-of-mouth, the best evangelizing is one-to-one. To share or not to share, that is the question.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,…(Matthew 28:19).”