What Google tells us about the interest in Mission and Evangelism in South Africa

Tom Reiner published an interesting article…

Tom Reiner published an interesting article about what one can learn about searches on Google about Evangelism in the US. (Seven Things Google Tells Us About Evangelism in the United States)

He argued that this type of information indicates the interest in the topic and he concluded with seven lessons that he gleaned from it, summarised as a steady losing of interest in evangelism. He further mentioned that his own research also demonstrates this reality that not only church members, but also pastors and staff are losing interest in evangelism.  “I can’t recall ever seeing an evangelistic church without an evangelistic pastor”. 

Reiner concluded that American churches are among the worst in evangelism according to the Google index used to rank different geographical areas for a particular term. According to this, the highest scores are given to Ghana with a 100 index (out of 100). Nigeria is second at 66, and Zimbabwe is third at 63. In fact, all of the highly ranked nations are in Africa. The American index score is a paltry 11. “As a rule, we in the American churches stink at evangelism. And we wonder why our churches aren’t healthy.”

In the comments underneath the post from Reiner, there were some differences and arguments about the use of the concept of “evangelism” and some people feel that one must rather use concepts like “outreach”, “missions” and even “discipleship” for this purpose.

What is the situation in South Africa?

I did the same search in Google for the South African region with the following concepts: Missions, Outreach, Evangelism, or Discipleship.

The results for South Africa are shown in the following graph.

Graph of trends in the South African context

Although one can differ and argue about the meaning of the various concepts, the overall conclusion is exactly the same: Since 2004- 2016 there is a definite decline in all four concepts also in the South African context.

Further, in a time when discipleship and disciple-making (concepts that are generally agreed today as most important by everybody that take the growth of the church seriously), that importance (“Discipleship”) is the lowest of all. That is a topic for another day.

Maybe one must take the following  conclusion from Reiner at heart: The evangelism problem begins with me. I probably share my faith a couple of times a month. That’s pathetic! I know God provides me more opportunities than that. I can fuss at you readers all day long, but I have my own sins and inadequacies that need God’s work. Google Trends is an excellent statistical and analytical tool. But its data can be sobering and convicting.”

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