According to statistics in 2004 from the Barna group, nearly half of all Americans who make a profession of faith in Christ do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and two out of three people who profess to be born-again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday. One out of eight Christians (13%) became believers in the age range of 18 to 21. Less than one out of every four believers (23%) embraced Christ after their twenty-first birthday.
Of the Christians who embraced Christ before their teen years, half were led to Christ by their parents, with another one in five led by some other friend or relative. Comparatively few accepted Jesus in response to a minister's prompting (7%), and only one out of eight cited a special event as the turning point in their journey. Among those who mentioned events, about half identified a church service. Just 1% said media evangelism or other situations as being responsible for their conversion.
Among those who accepted Christ when they were ages 13 through 21, one out of five credited a friend with sharing the gospel with them, and a similar proportion said their parents were responsible for their decision. One-fifth also recalled an event as the trigger for their commitment. One-sixth who decided for Christ as a teenager (16%) listed a relative other than their parent as the primary influencer. Only one out of every ten Christians who accepted Christ during the 13-to-21 age bracket cited ministers as influencers.
Adults who accepted Christ as their Savior generally responded to different stimuli than younger people. The most common precipitant was a friend (19%), followed by mass media experiences (14%), a live event (14%), or a relative (13%). Ministers were responsible for leading one out of every ten adult converts to Christ, while parents of adults were named as the evangelistic influence by one in twelve (8%) of these believers.
In our meditations over the last few days, we have learned that the work of sharing the gospel of Christ is something in which all God's people are to be involved. So as we think of sharing the gospel, the most important things are: 1) Begin praying for the individuals that are on your heart, 2) Get some training in what to say and what Scriptures to use, 3) Ask God for His heart of concern for your friend, your son, daughter or relative. The chances are low that bringing them to church to listen to the pastor will bring them to Christ. Most adults come to Christ because a friend shares the gospel with them. The most joyful thing in a believer's life is leading another to Christ. The person you lead to Christ will be eternally grateful that you cared enough to pray and consider how to reach out to them. Over the next few days, we will think through how to present the gospel and questions you can use to bring up Christ's salvation work on the cross.
Father, please help us to reach our loved ones and friends with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. Amen! Keith Thomas