There are a millions of spiritually lost people in Tennessee.
That is an obvious statement, but that reality grabbed me again in recent weeks. This time, the faceless mass got personal as spiritual lostness introduced itself with a person’s name.
In preparing for our annual Summit, we sent thousands of cards to our Baptist Collegiate Ministry leaders containing a single question: “If you could ask God one question, what would you ask?” We asked BCM leaders to use the cards to survey students on their respective campuses. We had no idea how the question would be received, but the response was astounding. Nearly 2,000 cards came back individually signed, and as I read through the responses, several truths hit me.
(1) Nearly all those who responded were non-Christians yet they assumed there was a Being of some sort who governed the affairs of man.
(2) Far from their being hostile toward spiritual things, there was a deep desire to find answers to profound spiritual questions.
(3) Matthew 9:36 came to mind. “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
(4) Tennessee Baptists must feel the urgency to connect with these wandering sheep and share God’s response to their questions which can be found in the person of Jesus Christ.
I believe it would be impossible for a Christian to read through their questions and not feel their desperation. Here, read for yourself.
- “How can I know for sure how to get to heaven?”
- “Why is there so much suffering in the world?”
- “Why did my brother have to die?”
- “Why did my dad walk out and leave us with nothing?”
- “What really happens when you die?”
- “What was your temptation with homosexuality since the Bible says God has been through what we’ve been through?”
- “Am I going to heaven?”
- “If you can do anything then why did your Son have to die?”
- “How can you love if you choose to send the majority of all humans to hell?”
- “Was all my heartbreak as a child for a purpose?”
- “What will make us happy?”
- “Why did you create Satan?”
- “Why am I here?”
- “Do you have to actively follow the Bible to get to heaven or can you just be a good person?”
- “Why is sleeping with my girlfriend considered wrong?”
- “Why is there child abuse?”
- “Do you truly love everyone?”
And on the questions go. We began with the assumption that people inside the church really have no understanding of the spiritual questions asked by unchurched people, and I’d say that assumption held true. Interestingly, a pattern developed after reading about 1,600 of these cards. These spiritually asked questions could be dropped into nine different categories.
- Why there is so much suffering in the world
- Why bad things happen to good people
- How one gets to heaven (or how one can know if they are good enough to get to heaven)
- Why God hates homosexuals (and/or if homosexuals can “get to heaven”)
- Why there is so much hate in the world
- Which religion is the right religion (or if all religions lead to God)
- Why God couldn’t prevent evil if He is God
- Why God allows people to go to hell
- What the purpose is to life
We also discovered that a fair number of people who identified as Christians had similar questions. What strikes me about this list is that I believe these are universal questions shared by people globally. Preacher, maybe you should consider a nine-week series addressing each topic to both disciple those in your congregation and to equip them to engage people in conversations that lead to gospel answers. If you accept the challenge to preach through these nine topics, please let me know so I can pray specifically for you, your people, and the people who will benefit from their witness.
Some people believe that the world is becoming increasingly hostile to the gospel, but I believe this question survey proves otherwise. People are hungry for the gospel, and if anything this exercise reveals that our bigger issue is the disparity between the spiritual demand of a lost world and the spiritual supply being offered by God’s people.
Tennessee Baptists, this is no time to back away from the world. We must connect … NOW!
It is a joy to be on this journey with you.