“Despite worries among evangelicals that Americans are set against attending church, most people would attend if invited in the right manner.” That was the finding of a recent survey conducted by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and Lifeway Research. The nation wide poll of 15,000 adults last December asked people about their willingness to attend a church when approached by different methods. For two of the methods over half of the respondents gave a positive answer. They found that 63% were willing to receive an invitation from a family member, and 56% from a friend or neighbor. Other approaches, including advertising or going door to door, scored lower.
This is another reminder that the best method of sharing the Gospel is and has always been personal contact with those in our social networks. It’s the same method we see in the New Testament when Andrew went to find his brother Peter (Jn. 1:41) and Philip went to find Nathaniel (Jn. 1:45). Jesus sent the man delivered from a legion of demons back to tell his friends and neighbors what God had done for him (Mk. 5:19). Cornelius gathered his household and close friends to hear Peter share the Gospel (Acts 10:24). We see it again and again in the Bible and in church history.
Some time ago the Billy Graham organization did a study of the people who made decisions at their evangelistic meetings. The vast majority of them had come because of the witness of a neighbor or friend. So even “mass evangelism” is dependent on the witness of individual Christians.
What this means for us as individual Christians is that personally sharing our faith is essential to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. We can’t rely on media or big meetings, and we can’t expect a few Christian leaders to carry the ball on their own. This is a job for all of us.
Your witness matters. Get out there and let your light shine.