Fifteen Reasons Our Churches Are Less Evangelistic Today


By almost any metric, the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past. In my own denomination, we are reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as we were 50 years ago (we measure membership to annual baptisms). The trend is disturbing.

We certainly see the pattern in the early church where “every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). In too many of our churches today, the congregations are reaching no one for Christ in the course of an entire year.

The Poll

I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll recently to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend, My specific question was: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?”

The responses arrived quickly and in great numbers, both in public tweets and in direct messages to me. Indeed, I was still receiving responses four days after I sent my Twitter question.

The Results

The response was highly informative for me. Here are the top fifteen responses listed in order of frequency:

  1. Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.
  2. Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.
  3. Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
  4. We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.
  5. Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of “you come” rather than “we go.”
  6. Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.
  7. Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.
  8. Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
  9. Many church members don’t really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation.
  10. Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
  11. Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
  12. Christians do not want to share the truth of the gospel for fear they will offend others. Political correctness is too commonplace even among Christians.
  13. Most churches have unregenerate members who have not received Christ themselves.
  14. Some churches have theological systems that do not encourage evangelism.
  15. Our churches have too many activities; they are too busy to do the things that really matter.

So What Is the Solution?

I received hundreds of responses to this poll. There is obviously widespread concern about the lack of evangelism in our churches and among Christians.

First, let me hear what you think of these responses. Second, and more importantly, offer some solutions to the challenges. Make certain those solutions include what you can do as much as what they should do. I look forward to hearing from you.

photo credit: people talking in paris via photopin (license)

Posted on February 23, 2015

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Churches are catered more to families that i have noticed compared to us singles unfortunately.

  • Nemie Josiah says on

    I agree Most churche today are only preaching and working with theit members. and and what adds to the membership are those that have transfered from other churches for whatever reason

  • Jesus said many things that are so simple. Simple does not mean easy or that it is not profound. He taught things like taking up one’s own cross. “Follow Me”. He taught the need to be born anew. The Epistles speak of dying to self. Then there is the power of the Holy Spirit to empower the believer. All of this seems to be sadly missing.

    In a gross over simplification I would that these people were not discipled properly. Some said those who are missing it were not real Christians (born anew). Jesus discipled many people toward becoming born anew. None of them were before the resurrection. Today we lack the perspective to disciple people to become more like Christ.

    The other thing is that culture is discipling better than we are. These people are comsumers primarily. With that mindset they come the church with “what is in it for me” as a mindset. If the church does not disciple well we can rest assured the mulitibillion dollar marketing and media industries will make their own disciples. And they will warp real disciples if they allow it.

  • I guess I agree with all these points, except that I would not categorize being against evil things (#4) as a weakness per se. I am proudly anti-abortion and anti-divorce, and I’ve never felt that these positions hampered my evangelistic efforts. Rather, they enhanced them. The conviction of sin should be front and center in any robust Gospel presentation.
    The problem occurs, I think, when we say we are against something … and that’s it. We don’t seem terribly interested in changing things and don’t seem to have powerful alternative. I don’t blame the world for not taking us seriously.
    Opposing what is bad and loving what is good should happen simultaneously. If the world only sees one side of this formula, it is probably because we have only shown them one side. But I see that as a result of weak evangelism, not a cause of it.

  • Gary Griffin says on

    How many responses (#’s) did you actually receive from the twitter,email and all social media?

  • Peter odoh says on

    The Church of Christ today is not what it is like the earlier Church. Today Church focuses on the more of the things of the world, the material things, fame, money, success more than the spiritual things. Amongst the so call men of God, pastors, they do competes based on who s the richest or more blessed or successful. So less emphasis is place on the real message of the Cross. Most of the messages in our churches today are mostly about the material things and not the kingdom of God. With such eagerness for material things how can we reach the world with the gospel? It is impossible unless we are just deceiving ourselves. The world knows us that we have lost the values. The core values of Christianity. It is already lost for long. The Bible call us the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Can we really attested to that today? The answer is may be. We are more of the world, and as such we will hardly reach the world unless there is a turn around, l mean total turn around. There is hope. I seee the light shining again.

  • David Petrey says on

    Also our pluralistic society, the World has decided that spiritual and religious belief is personal to the person. Whatever they believe, is true for them and its wrong to contradict that. And it’s especially wrong to claim to have real truth or knowledge when it comes to religion and spiritually. So in the end peer pressure and wanting to be accepted by everyone makes evangelism seem out of place in our society.

  • David Petrey says on

    Overall I feel the American church is in big trouble. We should rightly all fall on our knees and beg the Spirit of God to move in believers lives. I don’t know how anyone who has read the NT can get away from the idea that telling others about Jesus is of utmost importance. I really do think that beliefs, thoughts or ideas inform feelings or motivations and in turn produce behaviors or actions.
    The love of God turns me to face outward toward this world full of lost and broken people. If it doesn’t then there must be a lack of knowledge or some other motivation that is blocking the motivation to share Christ and make disciples like fear or lack of confidence.

  • 2,3,5,6,7,8,11,13,15
    With 5 and 15 being at the top. For the most part western Churches are self contained. Look at us, see what we have to offer you and your children.
    Just from my own experience and observation, there are more goats and wolves than sheep within Church fellowships. This is why the true gospel isn’t preached, followed and lived out. Because of that, evangelism and discipleship is not understood nor obeyed.

  • The glory of God is largely absent from our church services. We don’t truly worship Him anymore. I miss God so much in that corporate setting. I have hope though, that it will return.

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