We are in a time when it appears evangelism is on the decline. In my most recent episode of The Exchange I hosted Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg. We discussed the decline in evangelism and how to address it.
I’ve talked about this on many occasions because it is a concern we should all share. Sharing the gospel today may be met with difficulty, but sharing the gospel is nonetheless important.
What is the state of evangelism in the West, particularly in the United States? Are people sharing the gospel on a regular basis or at all? What do the numbers say?
LifeWay Research has conducted some research on evangelism frequency among Protestant churchgoers and believers alike. Additionally, the Barna Group released some research at the end of 2013 on the state of evangelism among born-again evangelicals that may be helpful, particularly when it comes to evangelism frequencies across age groups.
I thought I’d take a look at both—since they come to some different conclusions. (That does not mean that they are both inaccurate, but more on that in a moment.)
Evangelism and the Millennial: Surging, Sinking, or Staying the Same?
LifeWay Research presented a number of statements on the matter of evangelism and asked respondents to agree, disagree, or choose neither. What we found was notable, but unfortunately not incredibly surprising. Among Protestant churchgoers who believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, we found that most feel a responsibility to share the gospel and that most even feel comfortable doing so, but very few actually do it.
In our study, we found that 85% of all believers ages 18-29 agree that they have a responsibility to share the gospel with unbelievers, and that 69% of those same people feel comfortable sharing their faith. However, only 25% of them look for ways to share the gospel and only 27% of them intentionally build friendships with unbelievers in order to do so.
Millennials are more likely than other ages likely to feel comfortable sharing Christ, but this doesn’t translate to action as a decidedly lower percentage actually share the gospel.
However, Barna’s findings are a bit different than LifeWay Research’s in at least one major way. Barna’s research returned data signaling a surge of faith sharing among young people.
They found 65% of millennial Christians (those born between 1980 and early 2000s) have shared their faith in the last year. Barna conducted a similar study in 2010, and found that between 2010 and 2013, the number of Milliennial Christians who have evangelized within the last year has increased by nine percent. The only other age group whose rate of evangelism has increased is the 68-and-over age group, who rose from 52% to 53% in three years.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today