By almost any metric, the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past. In my own denomination, we are reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as we were 50 years ago (we measure membership to annual baptisms). The trend is disturbing.
We certainly see the pattern in the early church where “every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). In too many of our churches today, the congregations are reaching no one for Christ in the course of an entire year.
I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll recently to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend, My specific question was: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?”
The responses arrived quickly and in great numbers, both in public tweets and in direct messages to me. Indeed, I was still receiving responses four days after I sent my Twitter question.
The response was highly informative for me. Here are the top fifteen responses listed in order of frequency:
- Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.
- Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.
- Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
- We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.
- Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of “you come” rather than “we go.”
- Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.
- Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.
- Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
- Many church members don’t really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation.
- Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
- Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
- Christians do not want to share the truth of the gospel for fear they will offend others. Political correctness is too commonplace even among Christians.
- Most churches have unregenerate members who have not received Christ themselves.
- Some churches have theological systems that do not encourage evangelism.
- Our churches have too many activities; they are too busy to do the things that really matter.
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.