EDITOR’S NOTE: April is Focus on Christian Evangelism month on the SBC Annual Calendar. April 16 is Baptism Sunday.
NASHVILLE (BP) – According to a 2022 Lifeway Study, more than 90 percent of Christians surveyed say they are willing to have a conversation about their faith with a friend. However, the same study indicates that that less than 40 percent of them say they have had that conversation.
What’s the disconnect?
In this week’s episode of Baptist Press This Week, Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, offers some insight on the problem.
A loss of passion
“I think somehow or somewhere we’ve just lost our passion for seeing others become followers of Jesus,” Gray said.
When a person becomes a Christian, they want to tell others what Jesus has done for them but their enthusiasm wanes over the years, Gray said, adding that he believes it’s more than a problem related to enthusiasm or passion. He calls it a sin problem.
Pointing to the commands of Jesus, in passages like Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 1:8, Gray says a believer who doesn’t share their faith isn’t being obedient to Jesus.
But Gray sees hope for restoration.
“We can confess that and repent and ask God to help us and to restore us and He will,” he said.
Evangelistic training is helpful
Just as an athlete needs training to overcome an opponent, Gray says there is an opponent trying to keep believers from sharing their faith. He believes training is a tool to help defeat the enemy.
“Spiritual warfare is involved when you step into a Gospel conversation. Satan hates Christians, sharing the Gospel wants to keep us from doing it. All kinds of forces are at work to quietness and training helps prepare the believer to be more ready to share the Good News,” he said.
He believes churches should be intentional to train their members so they can share their faith effectively.
“Training, practicing and role-playing in some kind of an organized way will strengthen the believer as they grow and share in their faith,” Gray said.
Leading by example
Gray also challenges pastors to lead by example. He worked in business before becoming a pastor and experienced firsthand how difficult it can be for a pastor to be evangelistic on a personal level.
“I was witnessing less as a pastor than I did when I was in sales. I was spending more time at Christians’ homes eating coconut pie and chocolate cakes,” he said.
He says church members don’t push their pastors to be evangelistic.
“If I missed a committee meeting, I would hear about that. If my sermon was half-baked on Sunday morning, I’d probably hear about that. If I failed to contact someone who was sick or had a pastoral care need, I would hear about that. But nobody complained when I failed a witness to lost people,” he said.
“If pastors want to lead an evangelistic congregation, pastors must be evangelistic pastors. They have to lead by example.”