Reaching the Receptive

Sam Rainer

October 29, 2008

Some of my favorite conversations are the most random. I hear from the woman cutting my hair that she is searching for a church where she can receive help for her spiritual journey. As I listen to a guy in a hospital waiting room, he mentions that he wants to know more about Christianity. My real estate agent has a desire to visit my church simply because I invited her.

Receptive people are everywhere. They are searching, and they want to know more about what a real faith looks like. As I congenially converse with normal, everyday people, I learn that they may not agree with everything I have to say. But they respect the Truth, and they enjoy hearing about my faith. While the unchanging gospel will always offend some, I come across people weekly that are receptive to hearing about Christ.

Understanding this receptivity, however, is critical in reaching them. Many are struggling with conflicting emotions and goals. As believers, we must understand where they are in order to best communicate the timeless truths of the gospel. The Barna Group recently released a study that captured some of these inner conflicts of Americans. Reading the below excerpt from the study made me think of several conversations I recently had with people from the community.

While most Americans want clarity about their life’s purpose, they portray a personal search that is challenging and often conflicted. At times Americans put a positive face on their reason for being; other times they admit to not living up to their ideals. For instance, while 71% of adults believe they are “fulfilling their calling in life,” 51% also say they are “searching for meaning and purpose.”

Another conflicted self-assessment shows up when asked to describe their sense of peace and simplicity in life. Most Americans feel “very much at peace with life” (84%) and the vast majority say they “live a simple life” (84%).

However, most Americans also acknowledge they need to make major life changes. For example, most adults reject the statement “you would not change anything significant about your life” (55%). Also, their sense of peace and simplicity is often thwarted by their strong desire to make more money and do more in life: seven out of ten Americans say they are “totally committed to getting ahead in life” (68%).

These internal tug-of-wars can leave people without a clear sense of direction. Only the clarity and the simplicity of the cross will give people a true and fulfilling sense of purpose and direction. And we must understand people’s stories in order to best communicate this message.

5 comments on “Reaching the Receptive”

  1. David K says:

    hey, Sam. thanks for mentioning our research. I agree: people are searching for good listeners and deep answers. I think our faith in Jesus compels us to be the best listeners. And to provide the deepest answers to the conflicts people experience. thanks for your work to inform and inspire leaders. blessings, David Kinnaman

  2. Sam Rainer says:

    Thanks for stopping by, David. I appreciate your work as well – I enjoyed the read but was convicted by your findings in unChristian.

  3. Sam,

    Brother…appreciate the great words. Though conversion is not up to us, a clear, concise proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ is, well, essential. Thus our commission has been given. If we are faithful to share this message, there will be receptive hearts out there. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ yet deny this message to others are simply, passively denying that we serve an active, living God.

    Sharing as We Go!


  4. Cedric Brown says:

    Hey Sam.

    How can I get you or your father to come to our church as a guest speaker/facilitator? I have previously identified the 19-29 year old group as a group that is missing in action not only in church but also in community. It would be impacting to have one of you to come and walk us through the material. You can reach me by email at the submitted email address.



  5. Sam Rainer says:

    Cedric –

    You can reach me at Thanks so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *