I've been reading a book on Church growth (Growing A Healthy Church by Dan Spader and Gary Mayes) with a chapter on evangelism that says something which I've heard in churches before:

"Typically an unbeliever needs to have more than five meaningful contacts with a number of Christians before he or she will begin to trust the message of the gospel

Growing a Healthy Church

This seems to be a linchpin point supporting relationship-style evangelism but the book doesn't cite any sources and I don't seem to be able to find any myself. Can someone else locate the source of this claim whether it be a study or merely an idea proposed by someone else?

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    Glenn Daman refers to this in the book Shepherding the Small Church. But this only refers to the link you give (which I have fixed). I can find nothing else to indicate it is not just an assertion.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 26, 2020 at 19:11
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    Thanks for the edit, haven't been on this site for a bit so I'm a bit rusty
    – ninthamigo
    Aug 26, 2020 at 19:21
  • I have heard a similar claim by LDS, which I assume is unrelated to the book you mention. I didn't find a source though. I am adding this comment to say it is a notable claim that is not only held by Spader and Mayes.
    – kutschkem
    Aug 27, 2020 at 6:47

1 Answer 1


In marketing, this is referred to as the number of "touches" required to make a sale or convince someone. It is not unique to religion, nor does it guarantee success. In marketing, this is called "funneling":

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In fact, this approach only works on a small subset (typically a one-digit percentage) of the number of contacts.

The number of touches documented in market research is usually 6 to 8, which corresponds to "more than five meaningful contacts" in the question posted.

  • Wow thanks for this. I asked someone in my denomination and he said there were some marketing studies to back the idea up but I couldn't track them down.
    – ninthamigo
    Aug 28, 2020 at 21:10
  • Very interesting expose of modern evangelical methods and their origins.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 29, 2020 at 5:29

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