We recently asked 80 church members what or who was most influential in their becoming a Christian. Here are the survey results:
1. Parents 27%
2. Relative or Friend 23%
3. Youth Leader 6%
3. Youth Camp 6%
3. Bible reading 6%
3. Alpha/Christianity Explored 6%
4. Pastor 5%
5. Sunday School Teacher 4%
5. Dream or Revelation 4%
5. Christian book 4%
6. Church Service 1%
7. Mission 0%
8. Evangelist 0%
Half of all those surveyed, said that a relative or friend was most influential with parents comprising the largest category. Next in significance, 10% attributed their conversion to a youth leader or youth camp.
In total, church based staff, programmes and events, accounted for only around 20%.
What does this tell us? That special evangelistic events are at best a means by which Christians can introduce family and friends to Jesus, but they are no substitute for genuine friendship and trust. Humbling statistics for professional clergy and evangelists.
Our own statistics corroborate those found in other surveys. See this article from the US based National Network of Youthworkers
Leadership Journal also recently published the findings of a survey of 750 Muslims who converted to Christianity. The survey revealed the five predominant reasons they chose to follow Christ.
- The lifestyle of Christians. Former Muslims cited the love that Christians exhibited in their relationships with non-Christians and their treatment of women as equals.
- The power of God in answered prayers and healing. Experiences of God’s supernatural work—especially important to folk Muslims who have a characteristic concern for power and blessings—increased after their conversions, according to the survey. Often dreams about Jesus were reported.
- Dissatisfaction with the type of Islam they had experienced. Many expressed dissatisfaction with the Qur’an, emphasizing God’s punishment over his love. Others cited Islamic militancy and the failure of Islamic law to transform society.
- The spiritual truth in the Bible. Muslims are generally taught that the Torah, Psalms, and the Gospels are from God, but that they became corrupted. These Christian converts said, however, that the truth of God found in Scripture became compelling for them and key to their understanding of God’s character.
- Biblical teachings about the love of God. In the Qur’an, God’s love is conditional, but God’s love for all people was especially eye-opening for Muslims. These converts were moved by the love expressed through the life and teachings of Jesus. The next step for many Muslims was to become part of a fellowship of loving Christians.
The respondents were from 30 countries and 50 ethnic groups. The survey was prepared at Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of Intercultural Studies, and reported in Christianity Today.