Q: You quote several statistics in your book about the need for continual “touches” with non-believers in order for them to come to Christ. Can you talk about the importance of seeing evangelism as a process as well as a shared responsibility among believers as opposed to seeing it as an event and a “one-man” job?
Repeated studies through the years have shown that no less than seventy-five to eighty-five plus percent of people who have made a faith commitment to Christ did so because of the efforts and endeavors of people they knew, not strangers, and not just one person, but multiple individuals. The vast majority of people made their faith commitment through the efforts of individuals other than clergy, because there just aren’t enough preachers to reach everyone by themselves. According to Win and Charles Arn’s study of some 42,000 laypersons, only 5-6% came to faith through the efforts of a pastor or member of the clergy.
By contrast, over 75% (at least 3 of every 4) came to faith through the efforts of a friend or relative. So, how does all this connect for those who come to Christ through a Graham-like crusade, a street preacher, or a door- to-door caller? The reality is those people will say that when they look over their spiritual shoulder they see a line of different people (the average is between nine to sixteen) over an extended period of time who “tilled the soil, planted the seed, nurtured the young plant” of faith into fruition in a faith commitment as a result of that final endeavor. It is an unbelievably small number of people who make a faith commitment the first time ever hearing the Gospel. Also, since it takes a statistical average of seven touches, no one person can be expected to do that all themselves. From my own experiences and informal conclusions, people need about 5 connections with other believers in order to come to faith in Christ. Whatever the number, it is clear we are not to do evangelism alone. It is to be a shared responsibility among believers. I don’t have to do it all alone, I can’t do it all alone and neither should you. In natural terms, a female’s body, whole body, gives birth to a new baby. So too, the Body of Christ as a whole ought to give birth to new spiritual babies, not spiritual lone rangers or Rambo’s.
Q: In your book, you talk about the importance of the method of sharing Christ. “Most rejection occurs because of the method of the messenger. In a study of 720 people, 84% stated that they said no thanks when the messenger acted like a teacher. When the messenger was perceived as a salesperson, 71% initially said yes but didn’t stick with it. However, when the messenger was perceived as a friend, 94% said yes.” Can you speak more to the importance of a relationship when sharing the gospel?
Relationships matter in sharing Jesus.
They just aren’t important, they are imperative. A survey of over 1000 people expressed these goals: 77% want to spend more time with family and friends; 73% want to save money; 61% want to make more money; 59% want to pursue personal hobbies and travel. If we want to spend so much time with people we know, and we have so little time, it only makes sense that most of our evangelistic efforts will be or have to be with family and friends. Since none of us get any more time than anyone else, we have to work with the time we have.
Relationship infers rapport, meaning that I am close to someone I know and someone who knows me. Therefore, if I share with some what I know, I don’t have to defend my view, the other person knows I am only looking out for their best interests. Therefore, they look out for mine, and what I have to share with them is only the best. When I find a new restaurant that I really like, or use a product that works well, I don’t open up the phone book and randomly call people I don’t know. The time it would take to convince that of what I am saying wouldn’t be justified. But when I find something good, I share it with people I know, who know me and trust me, and believe what I have to say because of the long standing relationship we share. There is not defensiveness but rather receptivity to what I have to say.