Fear has been cited as a major reason many Christians don't share their faith with others. But one Southern Baptist says there are many more reasons Christians are reluctant to share the Gospel, including not being real believers.
"They've gone through the motions of following Christ, but without genuinely turning from sin to trust Christ. Non-believers don't evangelize," Chuck Lawless, dean and vice president of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, said in a blog.
Another reason for the lack of evangelism among Christians is that many are "undiscipled pluralists," Lawless said. "Deep down, they believe there are multiple ways to God — and no one has intentionally, clearly shown them otherwise from the Scriptures."
Lawless' post comes weeks after the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, approved a resolution to "pray for and invest in evangelism and discipleship efforts with college students and strengthen the relationship between parachurch campus ministries and local churches."
The resolution was passed amid concerns over declining baptism numbers and membership.
SBC President Steven Gaines announced plans to create a task force to "look into ways that … Southern Baptists … can be more effective in personal evangelism and soul-winning and also in evangelistic preaching."
A LifeWay Research study in 2012 had found that 80 percent of those who attend church at least once a month believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith but a majority (61 percent) did not do so in the previous six months.
More recently, the American Culture and Faith Institute released new research this year showing even more dismal numbers. The ACFI study found that only 25 percent of those who identify as Christians believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with others.
Lawless, who also serves as professor of Evangelism and Missions at Southeastern Seminary, said many believers don't evangelize because no one has even told them it's their responsibility.
"If new believers simply look around, they're likely to see a bunch of other believers relying on pastors to evangelize; so, they assume that's the right approach," he noted.
Other reasons Christians don't evangelize, according to Lawless, include:
- Not knowing many nonbelievers anyway (especially for those who have been in the church for a long time)
- Misapplying biblical teachings and believing there's no reason to evangelize
- Buying into political correctness — that is, believing that it really is unkind and intolerant to claim one way to God as the world says
- Struggling with their own sin
- Feeling that life has enough battles of its own and trying to survive another day (evangelism will have to wait)