In an article that appeared in August web-only edition of Christianity Today, Abby Stocker wrote about “The Craziest Statistic You’ll Read About North American Missions.” Her article opens with this paragraph:
One out of five non-Christians in North America doesn’t know any Christians. That’s not in the fake-Gandhi-quote “I would become a Christian, if I ever met one” sense. It’s new research in Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity’s Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020. Missiologist Todd M. Johnson and his team found that 20 percent of non-Christians in North America really do not “personally know” any Christians. That’s 13,447,000 people—about the population of metropolitan Los Angeles or Istanbul—most of them in the United States.
The study shows that it is not the atheists and agnostics clustered together in academia or Hollywood or the liberal unbelieving media whom evangelicals love to hate that make up the majority of those who do not know a Christian.
No, mostly it is the immigrants and those they live among. Here is the chart that was published with the study:
And although Christians make up one-third of the world’s population, eight out of 10 people in the world do not know a Christian.
Sherrylee and I just went to a wonderful Journey to Generosity retreat and in the opening session, we were confronted with the fact that Americans hoard much of the world’s wealth.
So is it worse to be poor because we hoard our wealth—or to be LOST because we hoard Jesus?? I’m not so sure it is not the same thing if looked at from our side of the equation.
So why do you think that 79% of the Sikhs in North America don’t know any Christians? It’s not because of a scarcity of Christians; it’s not for lack of churches they could visit?
Well, how many Sikhs do you know? How many Buddhists from Asia live in your community? How many Chinese?
Just last week there was a Chinese couple in Wal-mart and I could tell they were searching for something that they couldn’t find, so I asked them if I could help. They were looking for that kind of ice cream with many flavors in it, so I found the Neapolitan and they were quite pleased. I wish I had been even friendlier and asked about them and . . . .who knows what might have come from a little conversation about ice cream.
They might already be Christians!! But I don’t know because I didn’t take the time to even offer to get to know them. And because of that they may still be one of the many Chinese in our country who don’t know any Christians.
I’ve quoted this verse before in describing the reason for the FriendSpeak program, that we offer churches through the Let’s Start Talking Ministry. But surely the convicting results of this study should make us question whether we truly believe the verse to be inspired by God—or not!
26 God began by making one man, and from him he made all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they would live. Acts 17:26 (ERV)
Immigrants are in North America for the same reason you are—because God decided exactly when and where they would live. And Paul says the reason that he put people in the same place was so that they could find Him!
It’s not just “foreigners” who cluster in ghettos. Christians do too!
What could you do to reduce the number of people who don’t know a Christian?
- Make a point to speak to people of other origins in public places.
- Find meaningful service projects to join or to launch in ethnic ghettos.
- Adopt an international student from a local university!
- Host a Thanksgiving meal at your church and invite the immigrant community nearest you, specifically!
- Inquire about beginning a FriendSpeak ministry at your church (www.friendspeak.org) and volunteer to be a part of it.
What can you add to this list?