An article in USA Today reported on a survey about evangelism conducted by LifeWay Research, a research firm of the Southern Baptist Convention. The survey polled more than 15,000 people and found two ways most people said they were willing to “receive information” about Jesus: 63 percent would hear it in a “personal conversation with a family member,” or with a friend or neighbor from the church (56 percent). That is to say, more than half of those with whom we have a relationship would be willing to hear from us about Jesus.
While “relational evangelism” isn’t the only way to share our faith, it is certainly one of the more effective ways. Sharing the gospel in the context of a relationship helps those with whom we are sharing have a higher level of confidence in the message. It also allows us to bear testimony to the truth of the gospel with more than our words. Those who know us are able to see the evidence of the impact of the gospel upon the lives we live.
If more than half the people in our communities are open to hearing about Jesus from a neighbor, I have to believe that at least that many would be open to accepting an invitation to attend worship, especially during Holy Week. In fact, this week, more than any other week on the calendar, presents the greatest opportunity for us to introduce lost persons to our Lord.
In his book, The Unchurched Next Door, Thom Rainer discusses another study that indicates that an invitation to worship accompanied by an offer to “pick you up” or “meet you at the church” would be accepted gladly by more than 6 in 10 people who do not typically attend worship. Such an invitation offered for Easter Sunday, a day when most people are already thinking about going to church, could ensure even higher acceptance.
With those facts in mind, let me encourage you to invite your friends, family, and neighbors to worship on Easter Sunday. Rather than lament that so many people only come to church on Easter and Christmas, let’s see the opportunity these celebrations represent.
Pastors take advantage of the opportunity by intentionally making a very clear presentation of the gospel on Easter Sunday. Whether that serves to plow new spiritual ground, sow seed, water, or harvest, rest assured God will use it. His promise to you is stated in Isaiah 55:11: “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (NIV).