On the most recent What Now? The Post Covid Church Podcast titled “Spot the Lie” I mentioned a recent Pew Research poll that cast a disturbing light on evangelicals.  I thought it was worth expanding on the study, and sharing it with you.

PROBLEM:   The headline:  For non-evangelical or born agains, only 18%——fewer than one out of five—-have a favorable view of evangelicals.  Now, by definition, an evangelical is a Believer in Christ who takes the Bible seriously and is driven to share the “Good News” of the Gospel.  How could fewer than one out of five of those sharing the “Good News” be seen in a favorable light by those outside the faith?  

One big problem, of course, is our polarized and politicized culture.  Far too many non-believers, simply feel that white “evangelical” means Republican first and foremost.  Now, without getting into a political spat, when any follower of Christ is put into a political, rather than faith-based, bucket there is a problem.  National Association of Evangelicals president Walter Kim in 2020 raised concerns about politicized perceptions of the faith, as quoted in Christianity Today:  “We are in a season in which the evangelical faith is being narrowly defined and misunderstood by many, with long-term ramifications for our gospel witness.”

The second problem is that too few non-believers see the faith in action.

SOLUTION:  That Pew study showed something interesting about actually knowing an evangelical that can help The Post Covid Church refocus:  Those non-evangelicals who know an evangelical are much more likely to hold a positive view of the group (24% vs. 9%).  BUT, at the same time, more than one out of three non evangelicals who know an evangelical have a negative view of evangelicals!  So, behavior matters.  Faith in action doesn’t mean just works, it also means how we relate.

Chuck Colson, in his book The Faith, tells the story of the Amish in Pennsylvania who attended the funeral for the man who gunned down ten of their children in school, killing five, and then stipulated that money raised for the victims be shared with the widow and children of the killer.   Or, remember the video of the black relatives of the nine shot and killed by white supremacist Dylann Roof  in a Charleston, S.C. church, one by one telling him they forgave him? The power of Christ at the darkest moments shout to those who live without real hope.  So too do those simple acts of mercy and grace.

If the Christian faith is the most powerful part of Believers lives—-and it should be—-then those lost without hope need to see it from us more consistently on display.

Pew Research Study:  https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2023/03/15/americans-feel-more-positive-than-negative-about-jews-mainline-protestants-catholics/