Church leaders occasionally talk about the Rule of Four. Here is how it works. If you know 50 people, and each of them knows 50 more people, you have 2,500 friends of friends. If each of them knows 50 more people, you have 125,000 friends of friends of friends. And, if each of them knows 50 others, you have more than six million friends of friends of friends of friends.
For many of us, these numbers are conservative. One study conducted a few years ago found that the average church member knew 60 people by first name. With an increase of only 10 people to 60 friends, the Rule of Four suggests we have over 12 million friends of friends of friends of friends!
Theoretically there are enough relationships for the gospel to reach each of the six million plus people in the world with ease. So, what is the problem? Why has the gospel not reached the six million?
While the issue is certainly complex, at least a part of the answer is related to our unwillingness to talk to others about Christ. This is unfortunate since the most recent research shows that the best method of evangelism is simply conversation. If we could just get our people to engage in conversations with their non-churched friends and family members, it would do wonders in seeing people come to faith in Christ.
The bottom line: it is not just how many people we known but are we willing to speak up and out.
—Gary L. McIntosh