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7 Things Google Tells Us About Evangelism in the United States

7 Things Google tells us about Evangelism in the United States

The chart below makes me want to vomit.

Please look at it carefully. It is a chart of Google searches on the term “evangelism” in the United States from 2004 to the present.

As Google tells us, this type of information indicates where our interests lie.

We are not very interested in evangelism. Do we really care about the eternity of others?

It is a simple chart, but it speaks volumes. Here are seven lessons I gleaned from it.

1. We are steadily losing interest in evangelism over time. If you lose interest in something, you are certainly less likely to do it.

2. Church members are losing interest in evangelism. If the members of our churches are not interested in evangelism, our churches will become (or perhaps they are already) spiritual deserts with spiritual navel gazers.

3. Pastors and staff are losing interest in evangelism. Though that’s not in the graph per se, I have my own research that demonstrates this reality. I can’t recall ever seeing an evangelistic church without an evangelistic pastor. 

4. American churches are among the worst in evangelism. Google uses an index to rank different geographical areas for a particular term. The highest score is given an index of 100. Ghana is the highest ranked in the work with a 100 index. Nigeria is second at 66, and Zimbabwe is third at 63. In fact, all of the highly ranked nations are in Africa. The American index score is a paltry 11.

5. Churches not doing evangelism will decline in health. Disobedience to the Great Commission is not the best approach to lead a church to health and growth. Google shows clearly why so many of our churches are doing poorly.

6. Church members are much more likely to criticize rather than evangelize. I call it “the great distraction.” I wish we could have a rule in churches that you can’t say anything critically until you have shared the gospel with someone. It would be a great source of church unity.

7. The evangelism problem begins with me. I probably share my faith a couple of times a month. That’s pathetic! I know God provides me more opportunities than that. I can fuss at you readers all day long, but I have my own sins and inadequacies that need God’s work.

Google Trends is an excellent statistical and analytical tool. But its data can be sobering and convicting.

As a rule, we in the American churches stink at evangelism.

And we wonder why our churches aren’t healthy.

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Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.