In our sobering world of falling stock prices, Euro Zone debt problems, high unemployment, revolution and change in the Middle East, and great uncertainty on the horizon, I’ve got some good news for you.
God is quietly building a remnant in The United States.
I say “quietly” because it seems to have happened quite unnoticed by the powers that be. Kind of like the fall of the Iron Curtain that changed the world in 1989–or the shift of global Christianity that has gone south and west during the past few decades as chronicled in my book The Fourth Wave.
Another movement has also come in under the radar.
America is becoming born-again. The largest single minority group in the United States is now evangelical Christians for the first time in its history.
It was my dad that first alerted me to this phenomenon by forwarding a very interesting interactive map called “The Topography of Faith.” It’s an extensive survey done by USA Today and the Pew Research group on religious affiliation in America.
What caught my eye was the growth of evangelicalism in the United States. This interests me because my own story is found in this narrative.
I grew up in that religious part of America that was previously the largest minority–the mainline churches. They include Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational etc. But in my teenage years, my own church turned away from the teachings of the Bible and went liberal.
That’s when I became “born again”–repenting of my sins and putting my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. This inner change of heart and mind and empowering of the Holy Spirit changed my life’s trajectory and produced a strong desire to share my faith with others.
That’s the basic definition of an evangelical: One who believes the Bible so much that he or she actively shares their faith. The word “evangel” means to herald or share Good News.
Evangelicals have been around for awhile. I currently serve on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) which was started in 1942. We recently held our bi-annual meeting in Washington D.C. where we shared the privilege of meeting on the floor of the US House of Representatives (thank you Congressman Randy Forbes and staff) where we learned that the largest caucus in the United States government is now the prayer caucus with over one hundred members.
Later in the week, twelve of our number met for twenty-five minutes with President Obama at the White House. We dialoged with him on five different areas of concern for people of faith. This was our first official meeting with the POTUS in his three years in office.
Evangelicals have a long history in our nation–but we’ve never been the largest group.
In the beginning of the 21st century, we’ve quietly achieved that status.
Here’s the map that my father forwarded it to me. You can click on it in a moment and see for yourself–but first first allow me to share a few interesting findings.
THE BIG PICTURE
Bible-believing, faith-sharing Christians now make up 26% of the US population. That makes them the nation’s largest minority. Catholics come in second at 24% (and some of them are born-again) and mainline Protestant churches come in third at 18% nationally.
Unaffiliated or secular folks come in at 16%. This is a growing percentage, but no where near the faith-based portion of America. Two percent are Jewish, and one percent are either Muslims and Buddhists.
When you add up all the Christian folk who believe in Jesus, the total comes to 75%.
No wonder the US Congress today affirmed America’s true national motto: In God We Trust. Make sure you make that known when the ACLU comes knocking to tell you to take down your crosses or take the Christ out of Christmas.
Tell them they are free to express their opinion–but we believe in majority rule.
Guess which state has the highest percentage of evangelicals? Can you say “Oklahoma is OK!”
Actually Oklahoma and Arkansas are tied at 53% evangelical–but the Sooner state has a total faith in Jesus of over 84%. That’s the largest in the land.
No wonder those Okie football players are always praying on the field and lifting their fingers to heaven. It’s a part of their faith and spiritual DNA.
MOST UNCHURCHED REGION?
We’ve been told for years that the Pacific Northwest is the least churched region of the nation. In fact they brand the west coast the “left coast” for its liberal political leanings.
But say it ain’t so! In my home state of Washington, evangelicals are the largest group at 25%. In Oregon it’s even higher at 30%.
Then there’s California which has 18% evangelicals, but a total Christian population of 63%. Catholics are the largest group in California due to the growth of the Hispanic population, clocking in at 30%. But Hispanic churches are the fastest growing ones in America, and like Latin America, many Catholics are becoming born again.
As I point out in my new book The Fourth Wave, Latin America was a sleepy Catholic continent for hundreds of years. If you’d asked people in 1900 if they knew Jesus personally and were born again by his Spirit, about 60,000 hands would have been raised.
But if you ask that same question in 2011, then sixty million hands would go up! Not bad multiplication in just one hundred years. I will be speaking in Puerto Rico in a few weeks and Colombia after that. Both were Catholic colonies for decades. Today, both nations are nearly forty percent evangelical.
But back to the point. The Pacific Northwest has a significant evangelical population. And California has the quickly multiplying Hispanic churches. (I spoke to thousands of Hispanic Christians recently at a church in Los Angeles. The four services were vibrant and packed.)
Maybe the Left Coast can become the Christ Coast of the USA. Something to definitely pray about.
THE SOUTH RISES–AMERICA’S REAL BIBLE BELT
You probably guessed that it’s the South that contains the largest percentages of evangelicals:
- We already mentioned OK and ARK at 53%. But there’s more:
- Tennessee at 51%.
- Alabama and Kentucky at 49%.
- South Carolina at 45%and North Carolina at 41%.
- Georgia at 38% and Texas at 34% (total Christians in the Lone Star State are 81%).
- Louisiana at 31%, and in Florida, Catholics and evangelicals make up 51%.
I have said and believed for years that the faith and principles of the South that have kept America on a godly course for much of the 20th and 21st centuries. The North won the war against slavery. But so far the South is winning the war of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
PRAY FOR THE NORTHEAST
The most barren evangelical region of the United States is not the Northwest or Southwest, but rather the place where America’s evangelical revivals took place over two hundred years ago–the Northeast corner of the nation. On the eastern seaboard, from Maryland to Maine, no state has an evangelical population higher than 15%–and generally the farther north you go, evangelical faith dies out (with the exception of Maine).
Pennsylvania has an 18% evangelical population–and 79% of its total population believe in Jesus. New York is a little lower at 11% evangelical and 71% Christian.
The Midwest is a mixed bag–but generally has more evangelicals than the Northwest.
We need to pray for the states of New England. May revival winds blow where they once fiercely swirled.
Despite this good news about the growth of evangelicals in America, there is still much to be done in these United States of America. But we are truly a Christian nation when it comes to our overall faith and our largest minority group–evangelicals.
In light of the dark clouds on the horizon, has God quietly been doing a work in our land that may be crucial for us to survive and thrive in the coming days? Is he building a remnant of people who can help the nation and world find its God in the 21st century?
Only God knows and he never tells.
But be encouraged.
The faith of our fathers is becoming evangelical.
(If you haven’t gone to the web-site yet, CLICK HERE and enjoy. Just move your cursor over the map and it will give you the statistics for each state. Look at your home state and pray for it and others as God leads you.)
I recently saw a description of the world that caught my attention. It’s called Miniature Earth and it broke down the population of the globe by percentages–as if the world only contained 100 people.
Statisticians tell us that the earth will pass the seven billion mark in October. That’s ten times bigger than the world population stood at the time of America’s founding in 1776.
Seven billion is a staggering number to comprehend. Likening it to 100 people will give us some perspective.
Today I want you to step outside your micro-world and ponder the macro-view of Planet Earth in 2011. I believe this view will tell us a few things about God and how he wants us to pray and act.
What would the world look like if there were only 100 people in it? Here’s the breakdown…
Let’s start with the racial make-up. If we could turn the earth into a town of 100 people, keeping the same proportions we have today, it would contain:
- 61 Asians,
- 12 Europeans,
- 8 North Americans,
- 5 South Americans and Caribbeans,
- 13 Africans,
- and 1 from Oceania.
Imagine this group as a 100 person town. If you walked down the main street, the first thing that would strike you is that nearly six in ten people you meet were Asian. And half of them would be from only two nations on earth: India and China.
I’ve been in China twice in the last six months. It’s an amazing nation. China is smaller geographically than the United States, but it has three times more people–1.3 billion. Looking at it this way, China has over one thousand cities of one million people.
I remember walking down the streets of one prosperous Chinese city–teeming with millions of folks. Only fifty years ago, China was a very poor and backward nation. But today, it is urbanizing quickly and will become the world’s largest economy in a few years. The Chinese are very industrious people.
David Wang of Asian Outreach says that God must really love the Chinese because he made so many of them. He also says that Chinese will be the language of heaven because it will take an eternity to learn it! (with its thirty thousand characters).
Putting humor aside, there’s no doubt that God has big plans for China in the 21st century. One of the greatest prayers we can utter is for China to become free. It is currently a Communist nation whose peoples cannot freely travel. If China became a free republic, the Chinese Church has a goal of tithing their people to world missions. That means adding ten million missionaries to the global harvest force.
There are one million cross-cultural missionaries now serving. Freedom to travel from China would increase global outreach ten-fold! You think there are Chinese restaurants in most places now? Well, if the 100 million person Chinese Church sent one tenth of their population around the world to share the Good News of Jesus, then there might be a Chinese Church on every corner.
Then there’s India. It currently has the world’s second largest population at 1.2 billion. But because of China’s one child policy and India’s high birthrate, it will soon pass China as the world’s most populous country. Fifteen people in our town of 100 are Indian. Due in part to their British heritage, the Gospel is also growing in India and many are coming to Christ and engaging in missions.
I am praying that India and China will form a startegic alliance in the 21st century to reach the world for Christ. There are 30 of them in our town of 100–nearly one third of the total. They have been allowed to multiply for some very important reasons.
They are joined by some very zealous Koreans, Indonesians, Japanese, Mongolians, and other Asia races. Korea is currently the sixth largest missionary sending nation in the world. Mongolia is number one–per capita. It takes only 222 Mongol Christians to send out one cross cultural missionary. By contrast, it takes 20,000 American Christians to send out one missionary.
The rest of the racial percentages are also interesting. In our town of 100, the numbers of Europeans, North and South Americans, and Africans are roughly the same–12, 13, and 13 respectively. Then the islands of Pacific have their one resident.
All these regions of the world have a Christian heritage. Europe’s is dying, but goes back centuries. America’s is sputtering, but still giving missionary leadership to the world. The Church in Latin America and Africa is exploding–the southern hemisphere is the new center of global Christianity. Oceania has been Christian territory for two centuries
So this means that the Africans, Latinos and Islanders will be actively sharing their faith in our town of 100. Americans will support that, and the Europeans may come around. This bodes well for God’s purposes at this strategic time in history.
As a point of information, there are 50 women and 50 men in our town of 100. That’s good. Let’s hope that no other nations follow China’s one child policy that tends to allow more males to live than females.
In our town of 100, 47 live in the urban area and 53 live in the country. This appears quite balanced, but it has changed rapidly over the past fifty years as people have migrated to the cities. One hundred years ago, ninety of our folks would have lived in the rural areas and only 10 would have lived in the city.
It appears that God is bringing people to the cities not only to raise their standard of living, but also to introduce people to him. It is easier to reach people in the cities. This is how Mongolia was evangelized. A century ago, most Mongolians were nomadic and Buddhist. Then the Russian revolution created five major cities where over half the population now live. Since 1980, 100,000 Mongols have become Christians–primarily through the ease of evangelization in the cities.
Pray that the cities of the 21st century would become hot-beds of Christian community. In our town of 100, the 47 people that live in the urban center are key to reaching the other 53 for Christ.
Now let’s turn to the religious make-up of our town of 100. Here’s the breakdown: 33 are Christians (Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Anglicans, and other Christians), 21 Muslims, 13 Hindus, 6 Buddhists, 1 Sikh, 1 Jew, 11 of other religions, 11 non-religious, and 3 atheists.
As you can see, Christians are the largest group in our town at 33 and Muslims are second. In some ways, this explains the global War on Terror which essentially pits Christian civilization (The West) against those who accept the extreme teachings of Islam (jihad). It’s no wonder these issure are in the news every day. Half of our town contains the Christian-Muslim divide.
While it is important that the followers of Christ in our town protect our citizens and work for justice against those who would kill innocent people, it is even more important that our 33 Christians actively share the love and grace of Christ with our 21 Muslim neighbors.
Encouragingly, more Muslims have become Christians in the past two decades than in the previous one thousand years. This appears to be God’s time for a great Muslim harvest.
There are many other religions in our town–and 14 who don’t believe in God. My next book will discuss at length the religions of the world, where they came from, and how only one of them can be true.
I want our “town of 100” to be filled with the light of Christ.
And finally a few facts about economic conditions in our town of 100:
- 20 people own 75% of the wealth of the community.
- 14 are hungry or malnourished,
- 12 can’t read,
- 12 have a computer,
- 8 have an Internet connection.
- and 21 live on $1.25 or less per day.
While these statistics show the true inequities that exist in our town, the main reason for the differences is not because twenty people stole from the others. In our town of 100, the twenty wealthiest people are a product of Christian principles and ideas. Their wealth came from doing things God’s way–taking dominion over the earth and its resources through faith, creativity, free enterprise, godly character, and hard work. The Christian faith produced both Europe and the United States.
It is the Western nations with their Christian heritage that produce 75% of the global GDP. This didn’t happen at gun point or by theft. It was caused by superior ideas via the Christian worldview that created much wealth and prosperity.
Fortunately, the Christian faith and free enterprise are being exported all over the world during the 21st century. Middle classes are springing up in nations like India and China as they embrace these ideals for the first time in their histories.
In our town of 100 we need to reach out to the 14 that are mal-nourished, bring education to the 12 that can’t read, and bring Christ and his truths into the general culture to bring economic development and blessing to all.
This is what Jesus would want if the world were one hundred people.