According to a new survey, the further west a Christian lives in the U.S., the more likely that person is to share his or her faith.
The survey, conducted by The Barna Group, says 65 percent of Christians in the West actively shared their faith with non-Christians in the past year. This compares to 58 percent of Northeast Christians, and 59 percent of Southern Christians. Believers in the Midwest exhibited the lowest rate of evangelistic activity; just 41 percent said they had shared their faith.
George Barna, the group's founder, says the findings are not surprising. He says the liberal environment of the West forces Christians to either be serious about their faith or give up on it.
The study also found significant divides on evangelism along racial lines. While only 49 percent of white Christians said they shared their faith, 63 percent of blacks and 76 percent of Hispanics says they shared the gospel.
In addition, two-thirds of Evangelicals had shared their faith, but considerably fewer (41 percent) of those associated with mainline churches had done so. Sixty-one percent of Protestants had shared their faith, compared to only 37 percent of Catholics.
Barna says he found the most common form of evangelism (78 percent) to be offering to pray with a non-Christian. Almost as common a form (74 percent) was that of “lifestyle evangelism,” reports Barna. He describes that approach as “living in ways that would impress non-Christians and cause them to raise questions about that lifestyle.”
The least widely used methods were distributing evangelical literature (35 percent), sending evangelistic letters or e-mails to non-Christian acquaintances (21 percent), and preaching in public places (11 percent).
In summary, the researcher notes changes in evangelistic strategy being employed by American Christians.
“Young adults are much more likely to share their faith through ongoing discussions with friends and through e-mail and instant message conversations than are middle-aged and older adults,” he says, noting the younger group is less likely to engage in “means that their generation finds offensive” such as street preaching or moral confrontation. And he sees those who are in their early twenties and younger as continuing that trend.
In that vein, Barna offers some advice, suggesting that young adults need to be trained to “carry on knowledgeable conversations about the substance of the Christian faith and how it affects all dimensions of life. The ability to relate biblical principles to current issues and personal struggles,” he concludes, “will be crucial for the future of effective outreach efforts.”
(This article courtesy of Agape Press).