April 11 was the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 launch. It has been called NASA’s most “successful failure.” Though the three men failed at their goal of landing on the moon, this aborted mission resulted in the application of a wealth of knowledge and skills no one could have anticipated using before liftoff. This successful failure inspired a generation of young people to enter into the science and engineering fields.
Reflecting on the NASA team overseeing Apollo 13, Francis French, of the San Diego Air and Space Museum, stated, “They were ready to think about things that were way outside of their procedures they practiced, to run through checklists, to use their imagination and come up with ways to very calmly work out the best way to bring three people back to Earth alive.”
And while our journey is not to the moon, there will be times when we are likely to “fail” at our goal of landing on Asia (Acts 16:6) and “fail” at our goal of landing on Bithynia (Acts 16:7).
If in God’s common grace mankind is able to make such adjustments to innovate and save the lives of three men, how much more should the Spirit-filled Church be willing to make necessary adjustments to innovate for the lives of the 4 billion? This is often necessary to allow for touchdown on Philippi (Acts 16:12).
Phillip Connor was my guest on last Friday’s episode of Strike the Match. We had a great conversation about the new Pew study on the 2010-2050 growth projections of the world’s major living religions. Check out our conversation and subscribe at iTunes or through RSS.
I greatly appreciate the work of the Pew Research Center. They recently released a very important study: “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050.” This work is filled with a great deal of information. For example, by 2050, the global Muslim population will nearly equal the global Christian population and the global religiously unaffiliated will decline in number. The Hindu population in the United States is expected to double and the European Christian population is expected to decline by 100 million people. I recently had a conversation with one of the primary researchers on this project and wanted to share this discussion with you.
Phillip Connor, Ph.D., is the missions pastor at Great Commission Community Church in Arlington, Virginia and formerly worked as a researcher with Pew. In addition to several research projects, he contributed to this recent study. He is the author of Immigrant Faith: Patterns of Immigrant Religion in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe and co-author (with Kandace Connor) of Who is My Neighbor? Reaching Internationals in North America.
Phillip and I discuss some of the demographic matters related to this project and the missiological implications for the Church today.
This report calls church leaders from around the globe to a sobering present reality and possible future. This is a podcast you should not miss as you lead your church, mission agency, seminary, or denomination into the days to come. All Kingdom citizens need to be aware of these trends as we pray, go, give, re-structure, re-organize, and cooperate for gospel advancement among the unreached peoples of the world.
I fear that many evangelicals will listen and will continue with business as usual. May it not be so! We stand at a strategic moment in history. Will we be wise stewards with what we have in view of this possible future?
In light of this report, David Garrison, Ph.D., will be my next guest on Strike the Match. We will be discussing his latest book A Wind in the House of Islam: How God is Drawing Muslims around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ. David has some encouraging things to share with us. Subscribe to this podcast so you will not miss any future episode–RSS or iTunes.
I know the Pew Research Center’s report notes that the U. S. Christian population is 78%. That would be 243,360,000 people.
I know 38% of the general population (That would be 118,560,000 people.) accept the label “Evangelical”–with Barna adding that 27% of those (That would be 32,011,200 people.) that do are not born again. So, 118,560,000 less Barna’s 32,011,200 leaves 86,548,800 U. S. Evangelical Christians– or 28% of the U. S. population.
The numbers must be wrong.
With all that is happening in the U. S. public square over religious liberty matters against Christians, how can there be 243,000,000 people in the United States who are Christians? How can 28% of the U. S. population be comprised of evangelicals? Religious liberty matters aside, what population that large would allow such treatment to their own?
What if the voices standing against the way of Jesus numbered 243,000,000, or even 28% of the population? Would they remain silent and unresponsive to verbal abuse, threats, discrimination, and double standards by a minority group trying to take away public rights?
Public actions have revealed the private beliefs of one of the world’s largest “Christian” populations. And those public actions do not reveal a Kingdom Ethic lived by 78% or even 28% of the population.
Maybe the U. S. is more of a mission field than we have believed it to be.
Thought is an important discipline for the Kingdom citizen. When we are too busy to think, we are too busy. If the Spirit of wisdom (Eph 1:17) dwells within us and we have received wisdom from on high (Col 3:16; 4:5), then a wonderful stewardship has been given to us. We must think, and think often.
However, there comes a time when this depth of thinking must cease and action must occur. Of course, thought and aggressive evaluation must continue, but this degree of thought needs to cease for the moment. To continue thinking, one would have to remain static and move nowhere for the advancement of the gospel in our cities, across our country, and throughout the world.
Archimedes supposedly said if he had a lever long enough and a place to stand, he could move the earth. This statement came after proper thought. However, the ancient mathematician was not wanting to remain in the theory, he wanted a stick and a spot so things could happen.
We have something more important in our trust and a task more grandiose and earth moving.
You have discussed and debated, pondered and meditated. No more paralysis of analysis. It is time to get a stick and a spot. Move.
Last week, the Pew Research Center released an extensive report on the future populations of different world religions. Though there is troubling information here, this is a fascinating work providing a sobering reality of our world.
Here are a few of the projections from 2010-2050:
- In the United States, Christians are expected to decline from 76% to 66% of the population.
- In the United States, the unaffiliated are expected to increase from 16% to 26% of the population.
- In the United States, Muslims will outnumber Jews.
- In the United States, the Hindu population will double.
- Europe’s Christian population will decrease by 100 million.
- Europe’s Hindu population will double, Muslims will comprise 10% of the population, and the unaffiliated will reach about a quarter of the population.
- 4 out of 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Sahara Africa.
- The global number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians.
- The global Buddhist population will remain the same.
- The global unaffiliated will decline in population.
Such predictions are difficult to make with accuracy. However, this report should lead us to prayer, more intentional disciple-making, healthy questioning of our present structures and institutions, and the avoidance of burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the possible future.
Unfortunately, most churches, denominations, networks, mission agencies, and seminaries will continue with business as usual. I hope yours is not one of them.
Lord willing, on April 17, David Garrison is my guest on Strike the Match. We will be discussing his latest book A Wind in the House of Islam, which I think is timely given last week’s growth projections by the Pew Research Center. Subscribe at iTunes or through RSS so you will not miss an episode.
The prophets told us that one day it would be Friday, but Sunday would come.
Today, in many parts of the world, the Church celebrated the resurrection as Easter Sunday.
This was a time of praise, thanksgiving, confession, remembrance, and anticipation of the Lord’s return.
He was, “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25, ESV).
Now, it is Sunday, but Monday is coming. Who will we tell this great news to this week?
My prayers are with you; please remember me.
Christian holidays often provide many excellent opportunities to share our faith with others. With Easter around the corner, I want share with you a conversation I had with Jonathan Dodson, pastor of City Life Church (Austin, Texas). In 2014, he published two books–one for unbelievers, the other for believers. In this episode, we discuss these writings.
You will want to get a copy of Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection (at the time of this post it was out-of-stock at Amazon, try HERE). This brief (100 pages) work is an excellent gift for unbelieving friends or family members. It is written with with them in mind and will open additional doors for your future conversations.
You will also want to get a copy of The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing. In this book, Jonathan challenges the church to consider how she shares the never changing message in ever changing contexts.
In a lone ranger world, collaboration is the outlaw. It pushes against a rugged individualism. It slows things down. It is frustrating at times.
The larger your church, agency, or organization, the greater the likelihood you will become a lone ranger. The more we have, the more we believe we do not need others. Fight against this.
Cooperation is modeled throughout the Scriptures. In light of the 4 billion, collaboration is absolutely necessary.
Deaf Bible and Deaf Opportunity OutReach International are working together in a new way–doing more together than what they could do in isolated camps. An even more surprising example of collaboration on a massive scale is Wycliffe’s open source approach to Bible translation. (Read Bruce Smith’s vision and call for translators HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE).
Are there challenges with collaboration? Absolutely! Just ask Wycliffe. However, the Kingdom benefits often outweigh the limitations of collaboration.
Collaboration does not mean compromise on vision or theological or missiological convictions. With agreed upon boundaries and accountability, collaboration is an opportunity to do more together to advance the gospel than going solo.
Has your team, church, or agency been too much of a lone ranger? With whom do you need to collaborate (Ecc 4:9-12)?
I read today that a Zaxby’s restaurant had a grand opening in Statesboro, Georgia. I bet they have some good deals on chicken this week.
I also see that Pieology Pizzeria in Huntsville, Alabama is scheduled to have their grand opening later in April. My guess is that some great coupons will be available in April.
It looks like Stephensville, Texas has a new pawn shop. They just had a grand opening.
Marshalls Department Store in Windsor, Ontario had their grand opening last week. Now is the time to get a good buy on summer clothes.
I received a postcard today from a new church in Birmingham. I read they are having their “grand opening” this Easter Sunday…. I wonder what they are selling?
Yemen has been in the news a great deal for the past several months. However, global attention recently has been raised to a new level with some asking if the crisis is about to spark a regional war.
According to peoplegroups.org, the population of Yemen is 27,800,000. Pray for the World estimates the Evangelical Christian population at 4,300, or 0.015% of the population. Therefore, the population of the unreached people groups in Yemen is approximately the entire population of the country. All of the 17 people groups making up the country of Yemen are unreached peoples. And within this 17, 15 people groups are unengaged-unreached–meaning no intentional church planting strategy is happening among them. As of this post, Joshua Project has two Yemeni people groups (Tihami and Yemeni, Northern) on their top-ten priority unreached list.
- Pray for peace to come to the country
- Pray for righteous leaders for Yemen with wisdom to make right decisions
- Pray for world leaders as they make decisions regarding Yemen
- Pray for the believers
- Pray that the Lord may use such horrors to draw people to Himself
- Pray for ___________.
Will you remember Yemen as you read this post?
While many of us are geographically far removed from Yemen, may we (at least in the States) not forget that the Yemenis are nearby (at least HERE and HERE) and need a neighbor who can offer hope (Eph 4:4) and peace (Isa 9:6). May they not be the strangers next door to us.