Why aren’t Christians sharing their faith?
By Thurman Hayes
Every poll and survey imaginable confirms that Americans are becoming more secular. Going to church is no longer the socially advantageous thing to do in our culture. In fact, attending a Bible-believing church that takes the biblical position on issues like sexuality is less and less socially acceptable.
Secularization is seen not only in the decline of church attenders but also in the sharp rise of Americans who identify as atheists, agnostics or religiously unaffiliated. This group is sometimes referred to by sociologists as the “nones” — those whose religious affiliation is summed up by the word “none.” Every poll indicates that the number of “nones” is rising rapidly, particularly among young adults.
One would think that in the face of this rising secularization, Christians would be doubling down on their personal witnessing. Instead, surveys indicate that most of us are actually talking less and less about Jesus. Instead of being more open about our faith in Christ, we are becoming more reserved about it … at the very time when people need to hear about Jesus the most!
Why are Christians sharing their faith less and less these days?
One reason is that our non-religious friends know much less these days about the basics of Christianity. In past generations, it was likely that our non-religious friends knew something about the Bible. There was a common language there. They might have even felt like they ought to “be in church.” That world is gone. Now we must engage in conversations with people who know almost nothing about the Bible, and who feel no need whatsoever to attend church.
A second reason is that engaging with our non-religious friends now takes far more patience, time and investment. It’s not just a matter of a single gospel conversation or a single invitation to church — usually it takes far more. It requires loving the person and being there for them, regardless of whether they show interest in our faith or not. It requires taking the time to build a loving, trusting friendship over time, over coffee and over shared meals. It means opening up your home and showing hospitality. It means listening to their needs, and sharing the gospel with them many times. It means love.
In her excellent book, “Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert,” Rosaria Butterfield tells about how she made the switch from being antagonistic to Christianity to being a Christian herself. It wasn’t through Christians arguing with her or proving their point. It was because a Christian couple started a friendship with her, and opened their home and their hearts to her.
This leads to a third reason we don’t share our faith more — a simple lack of love. If we really believe what Jesus said, that He is the way, the truth and the life, and that no one can be saved except through Him (John 14:6), then we will naturally be concerned for those who do not know Him. If you knew you had a cure for cancer, but you kept it hidden, what an appalling lack of love that would be!
But we have the news that brings greater healing than a cure for cancer. We have the news that results in eternal life for all who believe.
Would you love others enough to help them know Jesus?
Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.