If effective evangelism, reaching more people with the gospel, were left up to my dog, there wouldn’t be many people coming to faith in Jesus anytime soon. My dog is a cute, white Westie with a comical personality that loves to sleep away most of every day. Except for a few random forays into the backyard each day to look for critters, bark a little and perhaps bask a few moments in the sun, he does little else but lay around.
Westies are known for liking high places, so typically you can find him asleep on the back of a chair or the couch. He also likes to sleep next to people, and if you nudge him in the middle of the night he gives a grumpy little growl. He’s just a lazy little dog who likes to eat once in a while.
I thought of my dog’s lazy approach to life when I consider that only 5 percent of believers in the United States have been instrumental in someone else’s decision to become a Christ-follower. I also recently read a related statistic: 75 to 90 percent of people who come to faith in Jesus are led to him by a friend or family member. That means that Sunday school, church visitation, TV evangelists, pastors and other means add up to less than one-fourth of those things which introduce people to Jesus and then bring them to faith.
Let’s get this straight. Over three-fourths of all people come to faith through a friend or relative and yet only 5 percent of friends and relatives are ever involved in doing so. These statistics are mind-numbing. If even 10 percent of Christians led a friend or family member to know Jesus, our overall evangelism in America would almost double! So, why don’t we help lead people to know Jesus?
There are many reasons we cite to justify why we don’t tell people the good news: “I’m afraid I’ll get it all wrong or say the wrong thing” or “Everyone in my city has heard the gospel and has already made their choice, and I don’t want to bug them.” Or here’s a good one: “I don’t know enough Scripture.”
I think one of the main reasons we have such a shortage of “I know Jesus, so should you” conversations is that it takes lots of effort to develop relationships that ultimately get to the point where such conversations can take place. It involves time, energy and being a good friend over time for that to normally happen.
No, Westies don’t make good evangelists. They’re too focused on being cozy at home. I don’t necessarily think it’s because we’re just lazy that we don’t tell people about Jesus. But, when I allow it to sink in that countless people I know and likely six billion of the people currently walking the planet are headed for an eternity apart from God—that should cause me to want to help at least some of the them come to know our wonderful Savior. Shouldn’t it?
I think this should be the most pressing thing we are about as Mennonite Brethren. Jesus said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Let’s join him.
Don Morris is the USMB national director. He and his wife, Janna, live in Edmond, Oklahoma, where they attend Cross Timbers Church.