two-men-talking

By Chuck Lawless

In last week’s post, I shared six findings about pastors and personal evangelism, based on a study of leaders of 100 evangelistic churches in my denomination. Here are the final eight findings:

  1. When the leaders get discouraged in doing personal evangelism, they turn to prayer (30%), continued, faithful seed sowing (19%), trusting God with results (18%), and Bible reading (12%) for encouragement. The point is not that these evangelistic leaders don’t get discouraged; they simply do not let discouragement with results cause them to be disobedient. They press on, believing God will eventually use their efforts. 70% had, in fact, shared their faith with somebody in the week prior to their responding to this survey.
  2. They believe repentance must be a part of the gospel presentation. 97% disagreed with the statement, “Repentance is not required for someone to be saved; belief is all that is necessary.” For these leaders, Jesus’ call to repent and believe (Mark 1:15) has not changed.
  3. These leaders differ on when baptism should occur. 33% agreed with, but 60% disagreed with the belief that, “Baptism should be delayed until a new convert gives adequate evidence of a genuine conversion.” Our team did not follow up this finding, but we are certain no respondent would want to baptize an unconverted person; these leaders simply differ on whether scripture prescribes immediate baptism.
  4. These pastors see a decline in evangelistic passion among believers. 92% indicated that new believers are typically excited about telling others about Jesus, but 84% also believe most believers lose their passion for evangelism. In fact, 27% of these leaders said they, too, have been more committed to evangelism in the past than they are now. Apparently, even evangelistic leaders must work at the task.
  5. 91% disagreed with the statement, “Effective evangelism comes naturally to believers; it requires little or no training.” Only 16% believe evangelism is the easiest church ministry. Indeed, 98% of these church leaders had themselves completed some kind of evangelism training, whether in an academic setting (67%) or otherwise. The “Romans Road” approach to evangelism was the strategy these leaders most commonly used.
  6. These leaders do not agree on whether a “gift of evangelism” exists. 63% affirmed, “There is a gift of evangelism that God gives to particular believers,” but 33% disagreed with that conclusion. They recognize the role of the evangelist (Eph. 4:11), yet not all agree that God gives an actual gift of evangelism to some believers.
  7. 60% agreed affirmed the conclusion, “Most Christians are so far out of touch with the world around them that they know little of its fears, problems, concerns, or issues.” These leaders recognize the real danger of Christian “cocooning,” of believers viewing the church as a place of retreat from the world rather than a place to re-arm for the spiritual battle. Thus, church leaders are often encouraging members to evangelize people they neither know nor understand.
  8. Yet, 84% percent agreed with the statement, “Most non-believers I talk to are open to talking about Christ.” The non-believers may not respond positively to the gospel at that point, but nor are they opposed to a conversation about Jesus. That finding ought to give us hope as we strive to be evangelistic.

The leaders in this study have built evangelism into their life and ministry. Is evangelism in your DNA? When was the last time you intentionally shared the story of Christ? Which of these findings most challenges you?


Lifeway_Blog_Ad[1]Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

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Comments

  1. Heartspeak says

    Numbers 9, 12, and 13 are disturbing. If I read this correctly, a third of pastors think scripture must be wrong. Funny, neither Paul nor Phillip felt the need to wait on baptism until someone had ‘proved’ their sincerity. Paul must have been in error about a gift of evangelism too….

    Also, while I do believe that it’s very possible for church-goers to be somewhat insulated in their little ‘Christian’ world, It is a stretch to think that folks don’t have a grasp on ‘fears, problems, concerns or issues’ in the world around them. What they DO about them however, is another issue. Many tend to ignore them but that’s a different topic.

  2. Mark says

    I concur with #13. Many do not understand the real world. Examples of issues not understood are difficulty in finding a job, length of time spent in the educational system which is necessary for said job, relocating for a job opportunity to some place you might not like, cost of housing, difficulty in household formation due to costs of everything and worry over job security, and a few others. Gone are the days when houses could be bought cheaply and women had children before age 28 and could easily get a job after the kids started school.

    Add that to Christian colleges where everyone is insulated and life skills are not taught, where mistakes result in dismissal instead of a little community service, and mandatory religion classes where a good grade is obtained by learning the right answer not debating and discussing. Also of issue is chapel, where some guy gets up and tells everyone how everything they are doing is wrong.

  3. John Burke says

    This is a useful study, However, I would be interested in finding out how many pastors are praying for revival/awakening and how many pastors are fasting and praying as part of their spiritual life.
    John Burke, Pastor, PhD

  4. says

    Thank you for sharing these findings, Dr. Rainer. I don’t know if evangelism is in my DNA, but it has definitely become an integral part of my life. I pray that I can share the passion that God has given me with other brothers and sisters in Christ and play a tiny part in the sweeping movement to reverse number 10. On that note, numbers 10 and 11 challenged me to actually encourage others to participate in evangelism and help share what I’ve learned in sharing the gospel.

    Number 14 was the most encouraging and while my own statistic might be somewhat lower (given where I live), I have seen that the majority of people I talk to are open to talking about Jesus. This point has actually challenged me to begin keeping a log so I can actually see what the percentage is in the Santa Monica and greater Los Angeles areas.

  5. Kevin Subra says

    Stirring the post just a bit…

    #8 – Mark 1:15 has not changed, but neither has John 3:16,18; Acts 16:31, etc. The question is oversimplified, and has to be defined before it can be answered. Repentance is defined at least in a couple of distinct and conflicting ways, and probably more (change of direction, sorrow for sins, etc. versus change of mind, of which belief ends up being). It is also good to note that belief on its own is used many, many times, which leaves those wanting repentance as a separate step in somewhat of a problem.

    #11 – The Romans Road is a poor attempt at good intentions. It ends with Romans 10:13 and “calling on the name of the Lord,” which, in context, is a quoted verse (Joel 2:32) proving what was stated in Romans 10:12. The point is “whoever” not “call” in the verse. Either a person is saved by calling (10:13) or believing (10:14), but not both, as one is placed sequential to the other. John 3:18 seems to say that belief is the issue.

    Good try on a list, but I don’t think it can produce much valuable information without clarification and discussion.

  6. says

    I’d be inclined to say that #13 is not true. Or rather that it’s not worded well. Everyone knows the real world, at least their real world. It could be said that people are not aware of the struggles outside of their own social strata. Most everyone has had to look for a job at some point, lost a loved one, struggles with bills, etc. But it is hard to identify with people different from us, for whatever reason.

    It is also true that people forget how hard a time in life can be. Or more likely, we condition ourselves not to talk about the hard times. We are to come to church and put on a show of “I’m Okay” , but everyone hurts.

    • Mark says

      Let’s face it though, older generations who did not experience these issues don’t believe until they see their children experience them first hand. A complete disregard though for the problems being experienced by the younger generations has caused a lot of bitterness. Part of this is because the first thing is to blame the person for not being good enough, smart enough, not having a better resume, being inexperienced, etc. this all occurs before someone really think that perhaps the economy is terrible.

    • jonathon says

      The thrust of #13 appears to be whether or not Christians are aware of what is happening outside of their Church, and the socio-political environment in which it operates?

      I’ll go one step further, since this relates directly to evangelism, what is the combined total of athiests (rank at least 4/7 on Dawkins’ Scale), Neo-Pagans, and Muslims does your entire congregation membership know? I’m specifically targetting those three groups, because each of them, with some statistical justification, can claim to be the fastest growing religious movement in the United States today.

  7. Chuck Lawless says

    Thanks, Mark. The reasons are probably many, but I agree that many believers are disconnected with the world of non-believers in particular.

    • Mark says

      And tragically many believers are disconnected with the world of believers who are a generation or two younger. Just how much difference is there between the world of young non-believers and believers? I propose that there is little to none.

  8. Allen J says

    As an overseas missionary, I see the results of #9 play out. Among unreached peoples, we desire to see the good news spread along relational lines to reach into areas untouched by the gospel. However that won’t happen without the new believer becoming BOLD in sharing their faith (often in contexts where persecution is likely). One of the main ways we see boldness instilled in new believes is through baptism. By changing the meaning of baptism from a ‘confession of faith’ to a ‘confirmation of faith’ we delay baptism. In many cases the result is that new believer never becomes a bold witness and the gospel doesn’t spread. When every example in Scripture is immediate baptism and every command to be baptized implies immediacy, why do we require a waiting period?

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