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Do you ever fear sharing the gospel? Almost everyone does, so you’re not alone. We recently evaluated how often evangelicals tell others about the plan of salvation and what makes them fear the process? The results are very interesting so come with me as we explore them and you might discover something about yourself and God.
We surveyed all attendees at one Sunday worship service a midwestern evangelical church about telling others the gospel. Approximately 370 people participated. Full results can be seen here.
Almost all (96%) participants said they feared ‘sharing the gospel’ but thought they should explain it more often to others (5.1/6.0 rating). Further, participants confessed to some guilt in not explaining the gospel (3.0/6.0 rating). In total, 31% indicated that they shared the plan of salvation verbally with someone once a month or more frequently. However, perhaps the fear or social pressure to explain the gospel might have caused participants to confess they exaggerate how often they actually explained the gospel (4.9/6.0 rating).
Why do people fear sharing the gospel? Participants indicated most often that they do not know what to say (56%). This makes some sense to me personally from teaching individual Bible studies, because I’ve never encountered one single student who was able to explain the plan of salvation clearly. Other common reasons were fear of offending the non-believer (28%) and an inability to answer objections (36%). The participants expressed hesitancy although they overwhelmingly believed that the Bible is true.
However, participants who disclose the gospel to others compared to those who do not, were statistically more likely to demonstrate better wellbeing (i.e., peace, joy, contentment and purpose). Why would this be? Several causes might be possible:
- Believers may feel better after discussing the gospel realizing they are fulfilling an injunction from the Bible.
- A Christian who explains the message of salvation may derive joy knowing they are providing good advice and helping others.
- If a Christian does not know how to share the Gospel with someone else, they may not be able to even convince themselves of God’s faithfulness in times of personal doubt, which may hurt their own wellbeing.
Also of interest in our survey was that those who told others about the gospel were more likely to be adherent in other areas of their Christian life including: teaching others, praying, praising God and having meaningful Christian fellowship. These extra measures of adherence, especially in associating with other believers, may have contributed to wellbeing (1,2).
Warning: Participants also noted a moderate level of guilt which potentially could have occurred, at least in part, from not explaining the gospel to others. A believer’s guilt, however, is not part of biblical Christianity. Prior research has shown that greater knowledge of the faith helps prevent guilt and enhances wellbeing (1,2).
Our study suggests that practicing, Bible-believing Christians generally have high ratings of wellbeing. Although Christians may fear explaining the gospel to others, those who do so show better wellbeing than those who do not.
Thanks for reading my blog. I hope that you’ll come back again next week.
- MacIlvaine, W.R., Nelson, L.A., Stewart, J.A., Stewart, W.C. (2013). Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract, 19:251-255. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2013.05.001.
- MacIlvaine, W.R., Nelson, L.A., Stewart, J.A., Stewart, W.C. (2014). Association of strength of community service to personal well-being. Community Ment Health J, 50:577-582. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10597-013-9660-0.