Friday, March 11, 2011

Are Americans open to the Gospel

I love it when this happens. I linked to Guy Muse's blog post on starting a house church and forwarded the link to my friend Kevin. He read the blog post and liked it and then asked a question about something Guy wrote. Now I am responding and opening a new discussion. This is when blogging is really fun and edifying!

Here is what Guy said:

In our context (Ecuador) where there is an openness to the Gospel, we can begin introducing the below elements early on, even in the first gathering.

So Kevin asked:

Do you think people in the U.S. are as open to the gospel?

What a great question. Our initial response is: yes of course! America is a "Christian nation"!

Not so fast. I think in many ways that American's are far less open to the Gospel than people in places like Ecuador.

Partly this is because many Americans assume they know what the Gospel is even though they honestly probably have no idea. They know it has something to do with Jesus and the cross. In fact I think that because the Gospel story is so commonplace, a lot of people know just enough to be dangerous.

Also in part it is because so many Americans think being a Christian means being a good person. I can't tell you how many people I have heard say that they are placing their eternal destiny in the hands of "I am a good person" or even worse "I try to be a good person".

Here is the big one and what makes evangelism so hard in America. It is hard to talk to Americans about the Gospel because many, many Americans assume they are already Christians. They assume they are Christians for lots of reasons. They "believe in God" so that makes them Christians. They have been to church a time or two, that makes them Christians. They are on the membership rolls somewhere even though they never attend, that makes them Christians. They were baptized, perhaps as an infant or a young child and that makes them Christians. They might be insulted that you even bring it up because they of course assume that they already are Christians and woe to the person that is "judgmental" and asks uncomfortable questions.

Because of all of this, I think there is far more openness to the Gospel in other countries that don't have the history (baggage?) of a pseudo-Christian religious culture. Our big challenge is to take the Gospel to people who think they already have it.

What do you think about Kevin's question. Are Americans open to the Gospel?


Aussie John said...


I don't know about Americans, but Australians certainly are not!

Ur Man CD said...

King Arthur

Like Lord Aussie John, I cannot comment on America, but I can say a lot of you describe about Americans and their assumed Christian identity is a very real issue for engaging in sharing the gospel here in the UK. That is at times further challenged by a sort of complicit agreement that being a Christian can meet those criteria that you mention, i.e. born in a Christian country/family, baptised as a child, is a good person and has good morals.

In as much as this is a problem, it can also be viewed as a challenge. Whether in church circles or engaging in a culture that assumes Christianity it's about being convinced and sharing elements of what the Christian life entails and where that authority/source comes from and how that might differ from assumed Christianity.

Interesting to note how it's different in different cultures and how it's considered to be an issue of some being more 'open' to the gospel than others ...