Vision New England has recently conducted a study on how people come to faith in Christ in New England.
Pastors were contacted for names of recent adult converts in their congregations. About 200 recent converts were contacted and agreed to a ten minute questionnaire. These people had all been Christians for two years or less. This study has much interesting data for reaching New Englanders for Christ.* Here are the top twelve discoveries that were made through the study.
1. The Power of Relationships: 71% of the respondents said that a caring Christian was the most important factor in their coming to faith in Christ.
2. Conversion Process: 86% said they came to faith in Christ over a period of time. 32% took several months to a year, and 54% took several years. Only 14% responded to a one time presentation of the gospel.
3. God is Reaching All Generations with the Gospel: all age groups were represented in the survey: GenY - 21%; GenX - 36%; Boomers - 34%; Seniors - 9%.
4. A Major Disconnect: 80% of New England churches say evangelism is one of their top three priorities, yet only 2% of churches show ongoing adult conversions.
5. Church Service: going to church (63%) is second only to personal relationships in the process of conversion. This is especially true in smaller churches. 49% said meeting with the pastor was key; 45% said a class for adults was a strong factor; and 43% said coming to church with a need or a crisis was the turning point for them.
6. Alpha's New England Impact: 28% of new converts said they were reached through the Alpha course. This Bible study course has had a tremendous impact in New England.
7. Effectiveness of Classic Approaches: Only 14% of converts came to faith in a one time gospel presentation approach. It seems that "confrontational evangelism" approaches are not as effective in New England as "relational evangelsm."
8. Educational and Economic Factors: these do not seem to be a factor. People from all economic and educational levels are coming to Christ.
9. Church Involvement of Converts: 77% of new converts report attending church at least four times a month. Only 23% say they attend less than four times a month.
10. Mercy Ministries Help Hurting Find Christ: a life crisis softens the hearts of the lost and opens them to the gospel. Church ministries to hurting people help them come to Christ.
11. The Pastor's Role is Critical: a church will not develop a culture of reaching out to the lost without the pastor's leadership. He leads the way in developing personal relationships and by providing an example.
12. Spiritual Seekers: a group of respondents indicated that they were simply searching for something. This group represents all demographic levels. Even if a person has had a negative experience with church, he/she may be open to a friendship that will enhance his/her spiritual search.