I recently came across a video of a presentation done by Dr. Charles Arn, a professor at Wesley Seminary. In it, he described the results of a research study that had asked those who had come to faith in Christ through church why they showed up in the first place. You can watch the video by following this link, but I’ve listed the results below:
- Special Need (i.e. tragedy in life, illness, job loss, etc.) – 4-5%
- Spontaneous Visit (just showed up one Sunday) – 2-3%
- Church Visitation/Canvass (Jehovah’s Witness-style) – 1-2%
- Church Program (VBS, Financial Peace, golf league, etc.) – 2-3%
- Mass Evangelism (Billy Graham crusade, tract ministry, TV show, etc.) – 1/2%
- Sunday School (VERY important to retention, tends not to drive initial visits) – 2-5%
- Pastor/Staff – 1-6%
- Friend/Neighbor/Relative Invitation – 75-90% (WOW!)
The bottom line is that, if you are part of a church, the most influential person in the congregation for evangelism is YOU! You may not realize it, but God has placed you strategically and supernaturally into relationships with those disconnected from the church and from a relationship with Jesus. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to go and make disciples, and one of the ways we live out that call is to begin to look around our social networks for those Jesus might be calling us to share our lives and faith with.
There are many who are intimidated by this call, don’t feel equipped, and are fearful of what the other person might say. Remember that in the Great Commission, Jesus not only sends us out but promises to “always be with us, even to the end of the age.” He has a plan for how He wants to use you in reaching the disconnected of your community.
So for now, don’t worry so much about the how. Focus on the who.
Who are those whose lives you long to see changed by the Good News of Jesus Christ? Even if you aren’t sure what to say or how to share your faith, here are three things you can do TODAY to begin to live out the Great Commission:
1.) Pray – Ask God to put a burden on your heart to pray for those who don’t know Jesus.
2.) Be a friend – Look for those people who you have a natural affinity with, who you seem to run into frequently, and who share interests and a stage of life with. Then find ways to spend time with them, listen to them, and encourage them.
3.) Share a meal – You will eat (if you’re healthy) 21 meals this week. What would it look like to “tithe” those meals and eat two of them with those in your social network who are disconnected from God and church?
These are simple steps but are incredibly powerful in moving people towards spiritual conversations that aren’t uncomfortable or intimidating for either of you.
Who are those you will commit TODAY to praying for, being a friend to, and sharing a meal with?