By Aaron Earls
Christians often wonder how to gain a hearing with non-Christians. What can we do to increase the chances they will listen to us as we talk about our faith in Jesus?
In a 2016 study, Lifeway Research asked 2,000 unchurched Americans exactly that. It turns out, they are more likely to listen if Christians … act like Christians.47% of unchurched Americans say they would discuss it freely if someone wanted to talk about their religious beliefs, according to Lifeway Research. Few (11%) say they would change the subject as soon as possible. Click To Tweet
In general, however, the unchurched aren’t running away from having faith conversations. Almost half (47%) say they would discuss it freely if someone wanted to talk about their religious beliefs. Few (11%) say they would change the subject as soon as possible.
Among the unchurched who say they have at least one Christian friend, less than 1 in 4 (23%) believe their Christian friends talk about their faith too much. Almost 4 in 5 (79%) say if their friend really values their faith, they don’t mind them talking about it.79% of the unchurched who have at least one Christian friend say if their friend really values their faith, they don’t mind them talking about it with them, according to Lifeway Research. Click To Tweet
So, the unchurched are already open to talking about Christianity, but if they saw several actions among Christians, they would be more likely to pay attention.
When Lifeway Research asked, “Which would make you more interested in listening to what Christians had to say?” here’s what the unchurched said.
“I saw them treat others better because of their faith.”
For 32% of the unchurched, they want to see the faith of Christians motivate them to treat others better. Be it in person or online, the unchurched are watching Christians in how they behave toward others.
“I saw them caring for people’s needs because of their faith.”
Additionally, 31% say they’d more likely listen to Christians if their faith drove them to care for the needs of others.31% of unchurched Americans say they’d more likely listen to Christians if their faith drove them to care for the needs of others, according to Lifeway Research. Click To Tweet
Often times, people may miss the ways churches are meeting needs in the community, according to a 2017 Lifeway Research survey of Americans. But Christians can always look for more ways to love and care for those in need.
“I saw them be happier because of their faith.”
No one is “happy” all the time, but a quarter of the unchurched (26%) say if they saw the joy Christians speak about reflected in their attitude and emotions, they may listen more.
“I saw them standing up against injustice because of their faith.”
Not only should the faith of Christians influence their emotions, but it should also impact the way Christians treat those facing mistreatment and injustice. According to 1 in 4 unchurched Americans (24%), if they see a personal faith applied to public issues of justice, they are more likely to listen to our words.
“I saw them use their faith to solve problems in our community.”
Every community has problems, and the unchurched want to see Christians motivated by their beliefs helping to address those problems. More than 1 in 5 (22%) say this would make them more prone to listen.More than 1 in 5 (22%) unchurched Americans say they would be more prone to listen to Christians if they saw them use their faith to solve problems in the community, according to Lifeway Research. Click To Tweet
“Outreach ministries of your church are not just areas of service,” says Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “They are part of your message.”
“I saw them use their faith to help them solve their personal problems.”
Not only do the unchurched want to see how our faith impacts the way we address the problems others are facing, 22% say they’ll listen more if they see Christians using their faith as the solution to their own problems.
“I saw multiple races/ethnicities working together in a church.”
A 2017 Lifeway Research study found 81% of U.S. Protestant churches are predominately made up of one racial or ethnic group. That’s down from 86% in 2013, but still a far cry from the diversity that 21% of the unchurched say would cause them to listen more closely to Christians speak of their faith.
The unchurched are open to conversations about faith, and they say they would be even more open to those discussions if they regularly saw Christians living out their faith.
Aaron is a writer for LifewayResearch.com.