Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Gospel Optimism

Each year I do a State of The Church address and try to say something meaningful about the International, National, and Local Church. Below are some statistics and observations. The statistics were lifted from the Pew Research on the Global Landscape on Religion and the Gallop poll on religion.

The stats and remarks are sort of random. You'll have to do your own analysis. Here are the links for the statistics. 

Christianity vs. Other Religions
         2.2 Billion Christians (32% of the world’s population), 50% of Christians are Roman Catholic
1.6 billion Muslims (23%)
1 billion Hindus (15%)
500 million Buddhists (7%)
14 million Jews (0.2%)
1.1 billion have no affiliated religion (16%)

 Those five religions make up over 77% of the Earth’s population.

The Asia-Pacific region also is home to most of the world’s Muslims (62%). About 20% of Muslims live in the Middle East and North Africa, and nearly 16% reside in sub-Saharan Africa.
Fully 97% of all Hindus live in the world’s three Hindu-majority countries (India, Mauritius and Nepal).
This is an exciting number. In 1900, we really began, in earnest to evangelize the Dark Continent. Now, Africa is home to 24% of the world's Christian population. Additionally, sub Saharan Africa is 62% Christian! I think the next 100 years is going to really change the face of Asia for Christ, especially China and India. If The Church has the same kind of success in China and India in the next 100 years as we had in Africa in the last 100 years, the world will be very nearly a Christian world. This conclusion does not square with the trends. But I would propose that a 1910 analysis of Sub Saharan African Christians would not have revealed the prospect of 500 million Christians there in 2014, either! Jesus rules China and India. I can't wait until all the Chinese and Indians find out!

Nearly nine-in-ten Christians (87%) are found in the world’s 157 Christian-majority countries. This report listed 232 countries in 2010, so 67% of the world’s countries are a majority of Christians.
The top ten Christian countries make up 50% of all Christians.
The top ten Muslim countries make up 66% of all Muslims.
Muslims are a majority in 49 countries, including 19 of the 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Only 21% of the world’s countries are majority Muslim.
 Of the major religious groups covered in this study, Christians are the most evenly dispersed. Roughly equal numbers of Christians live in Europe (26%), Latin America and the Caribbean (24%) and sub-Saharan Africa (24%). Significant numbers of Christians also live in Asia and the Pacific (13%) and North America (12%).
The largest share of all Christians live in the United States (11%), followed by Brazil (8%), Mexico (5%), Russia (5%), the Philippines (4%), Nigeria (4%), China (3%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (3%), Germany (3%) and Ethiopia (2%).
As a whole, Christians are older (median age of 30) than the overall global population (median age of 28). Among the six regions analyzed in this study, Christians are youngest in sub- Saharan Africa (median age of 19), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (27), Asia and the Pacific (28), the Middle East and North Africa (29) and North America (39). Europe has the oldest Christian population (42).

 Other interesting numbers
         There are 350 Million Pentecostals in the last 100 years.
         From 10 Million to 516 Million African Christians since 1900.
         From less than a few million Chinese Christians in 1900 to as many as 100 million today.
         In the Asia-Pacific region, which includes China, we have seen the Christian population grow from 28 million in 1910 to 285 million in 2010.
World Christian Breakdown           %
Roman Catholic                       49
         Pentecostal and Charismatic     26
         Evangelical                               13
         Orthodox                                   12

         Clearly, there is much work of reformation to do in the church throughout the world.  But we must also recognize that the predominant world religion is Christianity.  In fact, we must even get beyond this and begin to think in the terms of Christendom.  We must think of a world that is as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters that cover the sea.

         2014- The PCUSA and the American Episcopal Churches continue to bleed members and member congregations at a rapid rate. Most of these Christians and churches are going to more conservative churches and denominations. This is a return to the Bible and should be applauded.
         American traditional churches are struggling and many of them are embracing more liberal views or simply modern, contemporary worship in an effort to stem the drain. The result is less Bible in the churches. We have yet to see significant reformation and revival in the United States.
         The trending numbers of Christian affiliation seem to be somewhat steady. There are two notable movers. One, the number of non-denominational Christians is growing slowly but steadily. Also, the number of people with no religious preference is growing at about 1% per year.
         Phil Robertson makes my list- The flap with what Phil said revealed a great deal about our cultural shift. The opposition to Phil’s view that marriage and sex should only be between and man and woman in marriage is now universally rejected in the mainstream media and academia. This rejection also includes the sports and entertainment world. Furthermore, this opposition extends in great strength to our government schools. There is no freedom to support anything Phil said or the reasons he said what he did. In the government school arena, Phil is just what A&E had hoped to make of him, a neanderthal, swamp-boy, redneck, uneducated bigoted, backwards, antiquated, extremist Christian.
         That is the story told daily on the nightly news, the evening sitcoms, the government school public speak network, and even on ESPN. This is so astonishing because most Americans still don’t think this way. Most Americans are still somewhat traditional. But the left has been enormously successful in shutting down any public spoken opposition.
          That is why the Phil Robertston deal was such a breath of fresh air. And we should all learn to speak the truth in love. Sure, we should love. I think we’ve got that part but we have been kowtowed into silence and we need to repent of that.
         I hope we feel the weight of how much we have capitulated to the world. I know I do. Basic biblical beliefs about marriage, creation, God’s view of pregnancy and babies, are vehemently resisted and attacked in the mainstream media, the government schools and the sports and entertainment world. And for some reason, we shut down when these real haters pipe up. We need to get a bold voice! 

Some Interesting National Numbers
A significant question in the Gallup poll is, 
Do you think religion is increasing its influence or decreasing its influence in American culture? The number of Americans who think religion is decreasing in influence has grown from 39% in 2001 to 76% in 2013. No doubt some of that is the political winds but many Christians are very frustrated with what is going on in our culture. But instead of being bold and biblical, we keep our heads down.
         Do you believe in God? 87% yes, 11% no
         Do you believe in Heaven? This number is pretty constant over 40 years, about 85% of Americans believe in God.
         Do you believe in Hell? Surprise! This number has grown significantly from 66% to 75%.
         Do you believe in the devil? Suprise 2! In 1990, 55% of Americans believed in the devil. By 2007 (the latest stat I found on that one) that number had risen to 70%! Wow, I guess liberalism in the Church and politics is working! The number has to be getting close to 99% doesn't it?

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