Friday, January 11, 2008

Good News about Evangelism?

Get it? Good news and evangelism, see what I did there? Anyway...I have really found some great value lately in the Lifeway research website. I think it is a valuable tool for anyone seeking to impact their community for the kingdom of God. The current article examines our society's attitude toward organized Christianity and their attitude toward Jesus. And surprise! They are not the same. (For two good books on this subject, see Kimball's They Like Jesus but Not the Church and unChristian by Kinnamon and Lyons.)

Here are some excerpts from an article from Lifeway's research site:

A majority of unchurched Americans are turned off by the institutional church and don’t have a biblical understanding about God and Jesus, yet they believe Jesus makes a positive difference in a person’s life and would enjoy an honest discussion with a friend about spiritual matters.

Those are just a few of the findings from a new study of unchurched Americans conducted by LifeWay Research in partnership with the North American Mission Board’s Center for Missional Research. LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources, and the North American Mission Board are both entities of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"A full 72 percent of the people interviewed said they think the church ‘is full of hypocrites,’" (Ed) Stetzer said. "At the same time, however, 71 percent of the respondents said they believe Jesus ‘makes a positive difference in a person’s life’ and 78 percent said they would ‘be willing to listen’ to someone who wanted to share what they believed about Christianity."

Despite their negative opinions about the institutional church, most unchurched people are open to discussing spiritual matters with a friend. The research showed that:

--78 percent of those surveyed said they would be willing to listen to someone who wanted to talk about their Christian beliefs. The number rose to 89 percent among adults 18-29 years of age.

--Only 28 percent of adults 30 years and older said they think Christians they know talk to them too much about their beliefs.

--78 percent of adults 30 years and older said they would enjoy an honest conversation with a friend about religious and spiritual beliefs, even if they disagreed with the friend.

"Even though the unchurched have a confused view of God and a negative view of the church, they are overwhelmingly open to someone sharing about their Christian faith," Stetzer said. "We think religion is a topic that is off-limits in polite conversation, but unchurched people say they would enjoy conversations about spiritual matters."

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