THE majority of Christians are confident about spreading the gospel to others — especially people from the same social background, a new survey suggests.
The survey, conducted by Savanta, was commissioned by the London City Mission. In September, researchers asked a representative sample of 1007 practising Christians — defined as people who identified as Christians, attended church, read the Bible, and prayed at least weekly — about their attitudes to communicating their faith to others.
They found that almost four in five (78 per cent) said that they were “confident” or “somewhat confident” about talking about their faith with people who were not Christian. Almost nine in ten (89 per cent) thought that doing so was “important”, and three-quarters (76 per cent) would have liked to talk more often about their faith with people who were not Christians.
Respondents said that they were most likely to talk about their faith with close friends (42 per cent), family (42 per cent), and work colleagues (37 per cent).
Almost one third (30 per cent) reported feeling less able to speak of their faith with people from a different social background. A similar number reported difficulties sharing faith with people of a different nationality (29 per cent), and adherents to another faith (29 per cent). One fifth of respondents (20 per cent) said that they were less able to share their faith with those who were marginalised in society, such as people who were homeless, refugees, or asylum-seekers.
Among reasons given for not talking about Christianity were worry about a negative reaction, fear of saying the wrong thing, and not knowing how to answer people’s questions. Others felt that they should be tolerant of other people’s beliefs.
The deputy CEO and director of training at London City Mission, Efrem Buckle, said that half of Londoners lived in what he described as “gospel poverty”, in that they didn’t know anyone who was a Christian. “We also know that those Londoners who live in gospel poverty are also likely to be part of our most deprived communities. It’s down to us to act and start to build bridges to share the gospel with people on our doorsteps,” he said.
London City Mission has launched a new resource hub and podcast, Everyday Evangelism, to help Christians to communicate more widely. The director of ministries at London City Mission, Jason Roach, said: “Everyone needs the opportunity to hear the gospel during their lifetime in a way they can understand. There are millions of people on our doorstep, disconnected from church, who may miss out. The problem is clear, the need to act obvious, but knowing exactly what to do in the heat of the moment can seem daunting and unfamiliar. Christians are willing, but need encouragement and strengthening.”