(Photo: Mars Hill Church)
A new report from LifeWay Research reveals that many churchgoers are not open or transparent about their faith.
The Nashville-based research organization's survey identifies being "unashamed" as one of eight attributes of discipleship that are consistent marks of maturing believers.
"There are two elements to this discipleship attribute: being unashamed of Jesus Christ around nonbelievers and showing transparency among other Christians," said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, in an article about the study. "This transparency is seen when a mature disciple is open to spiritual accountability and willing to share about challenges with other believers."
The survey of 2,930 American adults who attend a Protestant church at least once a month revealed that 14 percent of churchgoers agree with the statement: "Many people who know me are not aware I am a Christian." Another 72 percent disagree with the statement, and 14 percent said they neither agree nor disagree.
When it comes to interacting with other Christians, 66 percent of those surveyed said Christians should seek honest feedback about their spiritual lives from other believers. Twenty-nine percent say spiritual topics do not normally come up in their daily conversations with other Christians, while 50 percent disagree. Also, 57 percent of those surveyed said they openly share their struggles with their Christian friends, while nearly a quarter (24 percent) said they do not.
"It is easy for Christians to put their 'church' face on at church and pretend everything is fine. But without transparent interaction among followers of Christ, blind spots are left unattended and opportunities for change are unsupported," said McConnell.
He added, "The other temptation for Christians is to pretend to be 'not-too-religious' when they are around neighbors and co-workers. Yet, Scripture calls believers to not be ashamed of the gospel and its work in our lives."
Researchers found there are certain indicators that can help to predict a person is less ashamed. One such factor is praying for other Christians more frequently. Only 34 percent of those surveyed said they pray daily for fellow Christians they know, as compared to 10 percent who said they pray for the believers they know once per month or "rarely/never."
Other indicators include reading the Bible more frequently, sharing with others how to become a Christian, being mentored or disciple by a more spiritually mature believer and habitually confessing sins to God.