With all the numbers being thrown around in churches these days, one thing needs to be clear to the Christian: when someone makes a "decision" for Christ, it is just the beginning.
One out of three people in the world today claims adherence to Christianity.
The statistics surrounding evangelism efforts, however, can be discouraging at times. Not everyone who makes a decision for Christ actually ends up following Him. The Scripture actually has much to say about this. Here are some things to consider:
1. Even Jesus had backsliders
Not everyone who makes a decision or outward commitment to Christianity will stick. Why? For many reasons.
Even Jesus had people who heard him teach but later backslid.
Jesus taught in Matthew 11:20-24 that some seed will land on bad soil, meaning that not everyone you share the gospel with will stick.
2. Lasting Christians will Change the World
We've already established that some people will respond with excitement towards Christ, but then later fall away or backslide. They did for Jesus. They will for us.
The story in Matthew 13 shows us that some people won't even respond, some people will get excited at first but fall away later because their roots didn't go very deep (their problem and ours) and they encounter problems or persecution too great for them. Others accept the message but it is quickly crowded out of their busy lives because of "the cares of this life and the lure of wealth."
Still others accept Christ, live a full Christian life and these go out and change the world. Scripture tells us they will produce multiplied (compound interest) of what God used us to do in their life, in the lives of others.
Think of Paul. He was one person Ananias reached, but God used him to reach hundreds of thousands of others. Each person we lead to Christ means potentially hundreds of others will come to Christ in the future through them.
3. Our Message is Important
Just as important as discipleship and commitment to new Christians, is how we share the Gospel, or our message.
The truth is that we can preach to crowds of people or with a friend and get them to respond by being emotional, lowering the commitment level or "watering down" the message. The most common form of this is being vague. We may share a sermon, then without explaining the gospel very well, ask people to commit to Christ. Or we ask people to pray a "prayer of salvation," without really explaining what they are committing to, and what it means to follow Christ.
A dynamite book to read about this subject is Revival's Golden Key by Ray Comfort.
James 2:14-16 states that "even the demons believe." We must explain to people as best as we know how, that it's not enough to believe God is out there somewhere, nor even to know that Christ died for you and is your Savior. Even demons believe Christ died for the sins of the world. What is the difference between us and satan? The enemy won't submit to Christ. It's very simple and straightforward. We must make Christ our Lord.
It's not enough even to have a "relationship" with God. We must have a "right relationship" with God, by believing in Christ, and following Him as the Lord of our lives.
A right relationship with God in Christ is not seen by us being perfect, but is a simple heart choice we can make by confessing Christ as Lord, and seeking to follow Him throughout our lives.