Blake’s heart was thumping in his chest as he looked over at one of his best friends from high school sitting next to him in his car. John and Blake had played baseball together and were pretty tight, but Blake had kept a secret from John for over two years that he needed to ’fess up to. He wasn’t sure how their relationship would change after this conversation, but he couldn’t keep a secret any longer.
“You may think this is weird, but I have to tell you about someone who is very important to me.” He then shared the gospel and his testimony.
There was silence in the car. John broke the silence and said, “I can’t believe you have never told me that. You and I are close friends, and what is important to you is important to me. If what you are telling me is true, why would you think I wouldn’t want to know about it?”
In an effort not to offend our friend or neighbor with the gospel, we actually may be more offensive by keeping it a secret!
Here is a current state of the church according to LifeWay Research. Three out of five churchgoers in the past six months remained silent about Jesus with their friends, and 86 percent of those surveyed told only one or two people about Christ in the past six months. When asked how many times they prayed for the spiritual status of friends, 20 percent never prayed, and 32 percent prayed once a week. When asked how many times they invited a friend to church in the past six months, 48 percent said they did not invite anyone.
If we are keeping this great news a secret, it should not surprise us that 80 percent of SBC churches are plateaued or declining. It should not be a surprise to us that our baptisms have remained relatively constant since 1950, even though the population of our state has increased by 2.6 million people.
Something very interesting, however, has been revealed in revival movements in China, India, My Hope with Billy Graham, and the One Initiative with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. For every three people with whom the gospel is shared, one is coming to know Jesus. If conversations go up, conversions go up.
It’s time for you to come clean with some of your neighbors and tell them your secret. If you don’t know the names and children’s names of the eight neighbors who live around you, introduce yourself with some fresh-baked cookies. If you know their names, find out their interests. If you know their interests, find out their passions. Then ask if you can tell them what you believe. If you care for them, serve them and love them, chances are they’ll listen. It just takes intentionality on your part.
We can do this! There were 300,000 South Carolina Baptists who sang about Jesus this past Sunday in a building. There were 3.6 million who didn’t go to any Christian church in South Carolina. If we work together, each of us is only responsible for 12. Start with one. Start this week.
I won’t hold you up any longer. You’ve got some cookies to bake.
—Lee Clamp is evangelism group director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Follow him at leeclamp.com and on Twitter: @leeclamp.