Evangelism Not Practiced in Past Six Months by Most Protestant Churchgoers, Study Shows

on April 24, 2019

Lifeway Research has released a fascinating study this week on evangelistic practices among Protestant churchgoers. Researchers found that while a majority of churchgoers say they pray for evangelistic opportunities at least once a week, 55 percent admit they’ve not explained how to follow Jesus Christ with others in the last six months.

While this might give us initial cause for concern, it appears that some age and ethnic groups within Christianity are more engaged in evangelistic opportunities than others. Surprisingly, young adults and middle-aged churchgoers were more likely to have practiced evangelism recently than those 65 and older. In fact, 62 percent of those aged 65 and older were most likely to say they had not evangelized to another within the past six months and were least likely to strongly agree that they were eager to tell others about Jesus.

“Recently, there has been much discussion about young adults participating less in evangelism. That’s not the case, however,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “In fact, young adult and middle-aged churchgoers are more likely to have shared with someone how to become a Christian in the past six months than older churchgoing adults.”

This study also found that Hispanics (36 percent) and African Americans (29 percent) were more likely than white churchgoers (20 percent) to pray daily for the opportunity to tell others about Jesus. Hispanic churchgoers were also the ethnic group most eager to share about Jesus and 71 percent of Hispanics said they had invited at least one person to church recently.

Other results won’t come as a surprise. For example, those who attend church regularly are more likely to have engaged in evangelism recently than those who attend less. Those surveyed who attend church service four times a month or more were more likely to have practiced evangelism recently, with 58 percent more likely to have invited someone to a church service in the past six months.

The results ring with a bit of conviction for me, especially having just celebrated Easter and the risen Lord. If I truly believe in Christ our Redeemer, then why am I among those who have not invited someone to church in the past six months? There is a serious urgency to tell others about Jesus right now in our communities. Yet, evangelism wains as a priority for many churchgoers. But this world is temporary and eternity is waiting.

“Jesus never promised the Great Commission would be completed quickly,” explained McConnell, “but He set the expectation that the efforts to reach all nations with His gospel should be continuous. Many in church today appear to be distracted from Jesus’ final command.”

  1. Comment by Lee D. Cary on April 24, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    A prevenient knowledge base required for effective evangelism is Christian education. That fair?

    What is the current state of Christian education for youth and adults in most UMCs?

    If we grant that an overall familiarity of Scripture is a key requirement for effective evangelism, how well are UM laity inculcated with that knowledge? (From the pulpit and their “Sunday School” class). Correspondingly, what percentage of seminary classes are focused on Biblical studies?

    What is the level of familiarity with, and knowledge of, local church sermonizing known to the average D.S. and Bishop?
    If we accept the notion that pastoring is a “profession” (where there is preparatory study, knowledge testing, certified matriculation from an educational institution, and eventually paid labor, performed with skills and knowledge beyond good intentions, and that other “professions” often require continuing education (CE), where is CE emphasized in the UMC? (The senior pastor of a very large UMC once commented that hir – the current neuter pronoun – had not read a theology book since seminary.)

  2. Comment by Diane on April 26, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    If evangelism looks anything like evangelical Franklin Graham’s twitter condemnation of Buttigieg’s sexuality, then evangelicals are deservedly afraid to share their beliefs with the 70% of Americans who find Graham’s views as irrelevant and yes, bigoted.

  3. Comment by Lee D. Cary on April 26, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    84% of popularity polls are driven by biased interests and are, therefore, unreliable.

  4. Comment by Diane on April 27, 2019 at 1:05 am

    You might want to check out today’s article in the National Review –
    “Franklin Graham and the High Cost of the Lost Evangelical Witness”

    April 25, 2019 2:25 PM

  5. Comment by Steve on April 27, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Diane, the article doesn’t say its limited to conservative protestant churchgoers. Hopefully you are aware that the Episcopal church (as well as all other mainline denominations) are protestant, but you may not be aware that in recent years the Episcopal church has been calling itself evangelical and pressuring its members to evangelize. Here’s an example headline from the Episcopal News Service: “Presiding Bishop leads wave of excitement for evangelism heading into General Convention”. If you ever do end up joining a church, you should be prepared to be asked to do some evangelizing yourself, and I don’t mean in the comments of this website.

  6. Comment by Byrom on May 1, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    As a slightly-over-75 Christian, I’ve been struggling to fulfill a challenge which God gave me in January 2015. Shortly after my wife died, I began sharing with friends how God had moved in much closer to me than He had ever been before. Then I had this conversation with God. “With whom have you been recently sharing your faith in Me? My response: “With those who already know You.” “Yes, and it is good to help others strengthen their faith in Me. But, how will you share your faith in Me with those who know little or nothing about Me?” I can tell my faith story, and I know where I have gone from “I believe” to “I know.” However, I don’t know how to get an opportunity to do that with a stranger.

  7. Comment by Diane on June 29, 2020 at 12:21 am

    Circuit preachers went to plantations, preaching from the Bible to the enslaved people and telling them in no uncertain terms that they were to obey their master(s) to escape the wrath of God in judgement day.

    Fear-based religion uses antiquated, timebound teachings to keep entire classes in their place within the white supremacist pecking order.

    Using the Bible to tell gay people that the wrath of God will greet them on judgment day if they sin and act on their same-sex attraction is nothing more than another ugly page out of the white supremacist playbook.
    The traditional church’s game plan toward lgbtq folks is no different than that of “slaves obey your master” (that would be white straight males).

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