Statistics of Religion in North America

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Profile of the public

  1. Attendance is menu option
  2. everyone expects to go to heaven
  3. Balance scale salvation
  4. Salvation by works: good outweighs bad
  5. Doing the absolute minimum to be saved
  6. very stable in their religious traditions
  7. very closed minded
  8. no desire or need to search

Things not up for grab

"The social gospel has served to intensify the affiliational stability that was already durable because of parent-offspring transmission. Even the 'no religion' category is unattractive, since almost everyone requires some professional religious services in the course of a lifetime. Just as it is handy to have a good dentist or lawyer, so it is handy to have access to a minister or priest. The attendance drop-off in no sense means 'things are up for grabs'."

Affiliation Stability of General Public

Attend Weekly: 25%

Inactives: 75%

Wouldn't switch: 96%

Might Switch 4%

Wouldn't Switch: 80%

Might Switch: 20%

Only 16% of Population Might Switch, but probably won't
(4% X 25% + 20% X 75% = 16%)

Understanding the difference

Attenders (committed) 25%

Non-attenders (uncommitted) 75%

Already attend weekly

Don't attend anywhere

Strong church social ties

Few church social ties

Steeped in False doctrine

Superficial belief system

Hard to teach truth

Easy to teach truth

the religious cafeteria junky

Asked of the 75% who don't attend weekly:

"Some observers maintain that few people are actually abandoning their religious traditions. Rather, they draw selective beliefs and practices, even if they do not attend services frequently. They are not about to be recruited by other religious groups. Their identification with their religious tradition is fairly solidly fixed, and it is to these groups that they will turn when confronted with marriage, death and frequently, birth. How well would you say this observation describes YOU?"

Religion a' La Carte

Church leaders in 1800's

"This is what religion is"

church leaders today

"What do you want religion to be"

What will market bear?
2 Timothy 4:1-5

Religion A` La Carte in practice

Ordination of Practicing Homosexuals

1 Cor 6:9-10

Pre-Marital Sex Permitted

Heb 13:4

Woman Preaching in Pulpit

2 Tim 2:2

Emasculate God (father to person)

Deut 4:2

Church Membership by yearly $$$

Heb 10:25

Every Social Program Under the Sun

John 6

How can they practice such things? It is the doctrine of the times!

Social gospel: attracting the masses with bread

Negative Attendance Spiral

To increase membership roll, Preachers water down gospel


which leads to...

Weekly attenders begin to view attendance as optional


which leads to...

Average commitment level drops


which leads to...

Fewer people, not more, attend church

To increase membership roll, Preachers water down gospel even more...



on ...

The social gospel leads to spiritual death

Conservative Protestant Church Growth by source

Church of Christ in Ontario Growth 1979-1989

("Inquiry into growth of churches of Christ in Ontario" by Geoffrey Ellis 1990)

15 selected congregations average size 94; total membership 1410

Over 10 years

Total baptisms (10 years)


Baptisms from biology


Baptisms from outreach


Net 10 year gain (gains-losses)


Per church per year



Baptisms from outreach


Net increase


Members to baptize 1 outsider


Members to grow by 1 (net)


Cults in Canada

A. Membership numbers (multiply by 10 for USA)



Hare Krishna




Children of god


New age type groups


B. Cults represent the extreme fringe

C. Public Anxiety Greatly Misplaced

Selecting an approach in evangelism

Target Their Needs



emphasis: False religion damns

emphasis: All non-attenders are lost

focus: doctrine

focus: commitement to Christ

We cannot use first century sermons as a pattern for today

Antitypes of two times

First century


many Lord's - one church

one Lord - many churches

(antitype: Todays uncommited)

(antitype: Todays commited)

focus: which Lord?

focus: which church?

Cultural, geographic, social environment factors

converts before & after



Highly Transient population

Retirement city for Roman officers

High divorce rate

Stable families

Morally corrupt

Generally Moral

Book of Church Problems: Preacheritus, Immorality, Lawsuits, Divorce, Lord's Supper corrupted, Misuse Gifts of HS: 1 Corinthians

"My Joy and Crown" Philippians 4:1

Same is true today: The quality of the church will somewhat depend upon the quality of the population you are converting from.

Steve Rudd

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