What Keeps Christians From Evangelism?

Lifeway Research reently did a study in the US that found:

Americans are curious about the religious devotion of others and are willing to discuss the topic, but most say they rarely have conversations about faith with their Christian friends.

What an interesting finding: many people want to have this conversation, but Christians are reluctant to do so.

In response to this study, Lifeway published another article that suggests three reasons Christians don’t bring faith up:

  1. A desire to be friendly
  2. Because of fear - of failure, of not knowing enough, and of saying the wrong thing
  3. We forget

As I read this article, I realized that none of those reasons fit my experience. My main barriers are busyness (work and family).

At the same time, they seem familiar. In particular, the fear of not knowing enough is one reason I started the UP community. Here we have a space for anyone to come and ask a question when they get stuck in a conversation - and get answers and encouragement. I think that’s awesome!

I also think we do forget - that’s why Missional Members get a weekly prompt to take action. The processing of reading and writing thoughtful discussions in this community prepares us for action - but we have to go and do something to really learn it.

But if we are going to be faithful ambassadors of Jesus, then a preliminary step is to identify why we don’t bring up issues of faith. Then we can bring that to God and experience his grace - or share it with others and get help so we’re not stuck anymore.

What is your main barrier to discussing spiritual topics with others?

1 Like

Hi @Carson :wave:

Thanks for sharing that research. This is an insight on Christ’s assessment that the “harvest is plenty” and that they are “already white (meaning, overly ripe) for harvest”.

I’m usually holding off sharing the gospel for fear of instantly alienating the person or being alienated. But I also fail to always stir the conversations towards the good news. But after learning of this research, I think I would change my approach. I will prompt the gospel conversation and openly ask if anyone would like to hear about it.

Thank you for this eyeopener.

1 Like

Hi Dennis, that’s encouraging to hear.

I’ve been pondering how to bring faith up. For instance, I recently learned from Mike Breen an interesting approach.

Instead of saying, “Do you want to come to my Bible study?” we can flip it.

We can say, “I’ve been looking for someone to read the Bible with me. Would you be interested?”

And if they say, “actually, yes” we continue in that line of approach.

Instead of, “Ok, let’s read the Gospel of John, one chapter a week” we can flip it.

We can say, “Oh, cool. Is there any part of the Bible you’d want to read?”

Mike went on to share the rest of his approach. If there’s a section they want to read, he asks if there is a version they prefer. He asks what time and place is convenient for them. He asks if they want to bring anyone else. At every part of the conversation, he is approaching the other person as an equal. He asks questions and listens. He is courteous and flexible.

It is a similar heart, but a totally different approach. Instead of “come to my Christian space and do religious things” we are saying, “I enjoy our friendship and I’d like to build it. Let’s hang out where it is convenient for you.”

1 Like

That was cool. Got to give it a try this week.

1 Like

My main barrier is not knowing what to say, or at least it used to be not knowing what to say. Now I know. I know how to initiate a Gospel conversation with the cashier at the grocery store or anyone on the street. From that know how to transition into a simple Gospel “presentation” and I even know how to train churches how to do the same. I’ve done all those things in the past year. I’ve probably shared the gospel more in the past year than I have in my whole Christian life.

Not that I’m any sort of model though. The “Not Knowing” was my old barrier. My new barrier is the same as you @Carson, busyness. If I were to let myself, or if my wife and kids let me, I could work late every night. Now that I work from home, I go out less into the community. If I’m honest though, busyness is just an excuse. I’m just not doing it.

One way to open the door to share is to start with a 15-second testimony.

There was a time in my life when I was overwhelmed by my sin and depressed with my inability to be free from it. Then Jesus forgave me and asked me to follow Him. Now I am experiencing a freedom from sin like never before and a joy that makes me want to tell others about Him. Has Jesus ever changed your life like that?

The question at the end invites discussion. The Holy Spirit starts to work and then there’s an opportunity to pray.

Or with some old school door knocking it’s fun to say that you’re just going through the neighborhood asking if there’s anything you can pray about for anyone in the house. I’ll pray right then and jump right into my testimony and/or Gospel. It’s exhilarating to bring God into a family’s home, even if it is just a prayer.

Which I think highlights something else that keeps Christians from evangelism. It’s overwhelming. My friend said to me that evangelism isn’t his calling. Trainings I’ve been to over the years were long and complicated. The Romans Road may have been one of the simplest tools I learned early on in my Christian walk, but it still meant memorizing several scriptures. What if we equipped one day old Christians with simple tools to share their faith when they get home?

Getting out there and sharing is fun. It can be intimidating to walk up to someone on the street and strike up a conversation about faith and God’s salvation, but the payoff is so great.

The words of another friend keep echoing in my mind, “Isn’t Jesus worth it?”