Majority of Unchurched Friends Are Willing to Listen About Faith, According to LifeWay Research Study

LifeWay Research conducted a survey to find out how often "unchurched Americans" think about faith, the meaning of life, and what their general attitudes are concerning religion.

The study was carried out on 2,000 unchurched Americans, and was sponsored by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College. Those people were considered 'unchurched' who had not attended any religious service in the last six months except weddings or funerals, and for holidays.

Of those interviewed, many said that they would listen if their friend talked about religion and that they think often about the meaning of life, but do not care much regarding what happens after death.

As many as 79 percent said that they would not mind listening to a friend who values their faith to talk about it. Some 18 percent said they would mind.

About 47 percent of the Americans discussed religion freely if it is mentioned in a conversation, and 31 percent listened without responding, but another 11 percent liked to change the subject.

Only 35 percent said that they were told about the benefits of being a Christian, about sin and eternal life.

Most are even ready to come to special events or concerts at church. But only about a third of study participants were willing to go to a worship service on invitation of a friend.

Some 62 percent said that they would attend a church meeting about neighborhood safety, and 51 percent were willing to participate in a community service event. About 45 percent wanted to attend a concert, 46 percent expressed their desire to come to a sports or exercise program at church, and another 45 percent said they would participate in neighborhood get-together at a local church.

Comparatively, a lesser number of people (35 percent) were willing to attend a worship service, a spiritual seminar (24 percent), or a recovery group (25 percent) at church.

Most of the people (51 percent) were more likely to accept a personal invitation from a friend or family member rather than door-to-door evangelism (21 percent), postcard (23 percent), TV commercial (23 percent), or a Facebook ad (18 percent).

A majority of the responders (70 percent) agree that there is an ultimate plan and purpose for their lives, and only 19 percent disagreed to that, and the rest (11 percent) were not sure.

About 57 percent said it was crucial for them to know their deeper purpose of life, 31 percent said it was not important to them, and 12 percent said they were not sure.

As many as 43 percent of Americans never think about the question, "If I were to die today, do I know for sure that I would go to heaven?" Some 20 percent said they were not sure of the last time they thought about this, and about 29 percent said that they think about this question at least once a month.

Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research said that asking these kind of questions for evangelism, such as "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven" might not be an effective tool, because this is not what they usually ponder about.

"If the only benefit of being a Christian is that you get to go to heaven, most unchurched people don't care," McConnell said. "It can't be the only way of talking about faith."

He instead suggested Christians to talk about their relationship with Jesus and how it truly molds their day-to-day life.

A key point that emerged from the research was that when Christians genuinely talk about their faith, more people are willing to listen than is generally assumed, and that people could be invited to those church activities where they are most likely to go.

"Unchurched folks are not being overwhelmed by Christians talking about their faith," said McConnell. "If faith is important to you, then your friends will be interested in hearing about it."