Most Christians not sharing the Gospel

(Photo: Anissa Thompson)

A new survey suggests that Christians are not sharing their faith despite many feeling the responsibility to do so.

In a survey of over 1,000 Canadian Protestants, 43% claimed they felt a "personal responsibility to share my religious beliefs about Jesus Christ with non-Christians".

However, 78% had not "shared with someone how to become a Christian" in the past six months.

The survey was conducted by Nashville-based LifeWay Research, a group that offers qualitative study services to the Christian community to better understand both themselves and their mission fields.

They asked questions including "How many in your city really attend church?", "How receptive are people to invitations to attend church?", "What are residents' perceptions of churches in your city?" and "What affinity (interest) groups exist in your city and do they attend church?"

The study looked into the activities of believers who reported visiting church at least once a month.

Lifeway Research described it as part of an "an extensive discipleship research project" that was focused primarily on "measuring spiritual maturity".

The organisation wanted to measure eight biblical attributes they believe are to be found in the lives of "spiritually mature" Christians, including selflessness, obedience and biblical engagement.

Other statistics emerging from the data proved similarly discouraging. Although 58% of those asked reported that they felt comfortable sharing their faith, 59% had also not invited anyone to church for at least six months. Twenty-one per cent said they had invited one person to church in that time, while only 10 per cent said they had invited three or more people.

President of LifeWay Research, Ed Stetzer, said the researchers did find that mature Christians are more likely to evangelise than those who are new to the faith.

"Many times we've been told new Christians are most active in sharing their faith," said Stetzer. "In reality, people who have been a Christian longer have higher responses for Sharing Christ than newer Christians."

There was more optimism on the issue of praying for non-Christians to come to faith, with 10% saying they prayed for non-Christians daily, while 30% said they prayed for them several times a week.

"If you are going to be intentional about sharing your faith, praying for others is a great way to start," Stetzer said. "We often acknowledge the importance of prayer in people coming to faith in Christ, but we also found it has an impact on the person praying."