Evangelical Christians may be losing their focus on evangelism, according to James Merritt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of a large Atlanta-area Church.
"It takes 40 Southern Baptists to win one convert," he said. He also noted that 96 percent of all Southern Baptists have never shared their faith.
While these statistics may be related to one denomination, they cannot be far off for all evangelicals. The reasons, that he went on to outline, would apply to most Bible-believers.
Merritt sees the increasing resistance of the culture as the primary reason that fewer Christians are witnessing: "The buzz word is tolerance. No one wants to be known as a fundamentalist. Who wants to be known as an intolerant bigot?"
This has led to a situation where "71 percent of Christians say we ought to respect other people's rights to believe what they want to believe and leave them alone," Merritt said.
Another example is the strides that homosexuals have made in pushing their agenda. If we say that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin, a perversion and an abomination to God, we are labeled an intolerant homophobe that is promoting violence against homosexuals. "None of these things are true but if you repeat a lie enough, people start to believe it," Merritt observed.
This new hostility of the culture has caught Bible believers off guard. Instead of resisting this trend, too many Christians have given in and joined the culture.
Merritt cites the misuse of secular music, television and the internet. "I'm amazed at some of the movies our folks go see," he said. "I've seen people coming out of a movie where they used language that would make a sailor blush and it doesn't seem to affect them. They have lewd scenes that no Christian should see."
All of these things dampen the fervor of the believer, particularly one who has allowed his walk with the Lord to grow cold through neglect of the Word.
Having recognized this trend, Merritt recommends a renewing of the passion and aggressiveness. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses put us to shame with their boldness. He sees the believers at a crossroad. Either we will continue to allow the culture to drag us into more ineffectiveness or we must confront the culture, and declare the power of the gospel to transform men.
The "culture" is only the public expression of the hearts of individual people. It can only be changed one heart at a time.