9 Reasons Our Family and Friends Don’t Believe the Gospel

Southeastern Seminary, where I teach, is emphasizingWho’s Your Onethis semester. We want all of our administration, faculty, staff,  and students to seek to pray for and share the gospel with at least one person during the next couple of months. Based on my years of sharing Christ with family members and friends, here are my thoughts about why folks struggle with believing the gospel.

  1. They’ve never really heard the gospel. The more I speak to people in North America, the more I realize this truth. Within the shadows of our church buildings are people who have never heard the truth.
  2. They struggle understanding the Bible. Even for those who are willing to read the Bible, the content is often new – and challenging. If genuine believers wrestle with interpreting the Bible, it shouldn’t surprise us that non-believers face the same battle.
  3. They fail to recognize their lostness. “I treat people well, and I try to help my neighbors,” they say. “Let me tell you some of the good things I’ve been doing.” “I don’t do anything that’s just evil.” Folks who see no need for forgiveness seldom seek it.
  4. They see the gospel as too good to be true. The story of the gospel really is quite astounding. That the one and only creator God would forgive our sins, make us whole, place us in His family, and indwell us is hard to fathom, especially if the story is new.
  5. They see hypocrisy in the church. “I don’t expect people to be perfect,” a friend told me, “but if _______ represents what a Christian is, I don’t want to be a part.” We may defend the church all we want, but we must not forget that watching unbelievers see the reality in our lives.
  6. They hear other messages more loudly. Even if a non-believer hears three one-hour Christian sermons per week (which seldom happens), he still hears dozens of hours of other messages throughout the week – and the gospel gets clouded in the process.
  7. They’re enjoying their sin. Sin can be fun (at least for a while), and some of the people I know are having a good time. Following Christ, they assume, would cost them too much fun.
  8. They believe time is on their side. Some of my older family and friends are now more willing to talk about eternal matters, but those who are younger have been more interested in delaying any consideration of Christianity. No urgency drives them to consider life and death matters now.
  9. They cannot understand the preaching. A family member told me, “I like hearing _______ preach, but I don’t really understand him.” The Spirit of God helps us to understand the Word; however, we who preach the Word are not there to impress but to communicate the life-giving message of the gospel. Clarity is a must.

I suppose there are few new findings here, but I needed this reminder. Obstacles to the gospel have not changed much, at least in my experience.

What other obstacles have you found?



  • Mark says:

    Ghandi said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Too many churches don’t preach on how to imitate Jesus. Too few Christians know how imitate Jesus.

  • Jerry N Watts says:

    In his book, “What Makes Jesus Angry”, Dr. Tim Harlow writes, “My light is irrelevant if non-Christians can’t see it and don’t know about it.” This speaks to your points #1, #5, & #6. Candidly, their not-believing the gospel falls on us for not ‘showing’ them the gospel. In this American culture, we need to’show in order to gain the right to tell.’

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