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How Many "Real Christians" In North America?

Anybody who attends a Christian church in North America knows that
Christianity is in decline. Just in the last year, I've heard sad
statistics from the pulpit on no less than three or four occasions. I
have been wondering for some time now just how many "real Christians"
there are left on this continent.

Now, I want to make a disclaimer here. When I say "real Christians", I am not necessarily speaking of who may or may not be "saved", because
that is a whole different discussion. I think that there are probably a
good number of people who may not have attended a Christian church in
years and may not even have a super-duper prayer life who may have
received salvation through faith in Christ many years ago, but for
various reasons may no longer actively practice their faith (or at least
not in manner that is obvious to those around them).

What I am talking about are Christians who regularly attend Church - whether it be Mainstream, Evangelical, Catholic or some other form of
Christianity and are actively participating in their Christianity in a
way that is obvious to all of those around them that they are
attempting, to the best of their ability, to live out the Gospel message
of Jesus Christ.

You know, folks who attend church regularly, attend Bible study or small groups, perhaps participate in some sort of ministry or another; people
who you know really will pray for you if you ask them to. You know the
Christians that I'm speaking of - those who wear their Christianity
like a badge (but not in a hypocritical way!). Folks that you don't have
to guess about whether or not they are a practicing Christian because
it is obvious after being around them for any appreciable amount of time
that they are the "real deal".

Perhaps a better term might be "committed Christians."

I had a feeling that the popular statistics were misleading (Wikipedia - 76%
of Americans are Christians
...palleeeaaase!!), so I dug a little
deeper. The Gallup polls indicate that 40% of North Americans indicate
that they attend Church regularly, but I found that number to be very
suspect, so I dug a little more.

An article by Christianity Today deemed "Statistical Illusion" indicates that many lie about their Church attendance (no
way!!), and indicates that only about 20% of North Americans attend
church regularly. The Ontario Consultants On Religious Tolerance did an
in depth study
and came away with roughly the same percentage - 20%. And Dave Olson,
the director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church has
a very interesting
that indicates church attendance in the United States at
only 18.7%.

So, 20% huh? Not so fast. What I want to know is how many are really "practicing Christians." Everybody (well, most everybody?) knows that
not everybody in a Church is a Christian. So how many of that 20% or so
who regularly attend church are really "committed Christians" and not
just "pew-warmers"?

I was talking with one of the Pastors of a large local Mainstream church (5,000 members or so) here in the Dallas area last fall, and he told me
that he figures that only about a third of those in attendance on any
given Sunday are confessing Christians.

A third?!? Surely not?

If that number is true when averaged out among all churches in North America, that would mean that only 6% of the population in North America
are true-blue, confessing, practicing Christians! Now, I know that that
the one-third percentage figure could vary widely from church to
church. I'm sure that some of the smaller, tighter knit congregations
across the continent could probably hit a much higher number percentage

I want to through one more factor in. Let's say we factor out 90% of those attending the Mega-Churches.
Now I'm not going to say that aren't ANY Christians in the Prosperity
Gospel (mostly) Mega-Churches, because I happen to know a handful of
fine "real Christians" who do attend Mega-Churches, but with the watered
down Gospel that they receive at these Churches, I have a hard time
believing that the percentage of "real Christians" in attendance in
these institutions can be any higher than 10%.

What would that leave us with? 4 percent of the population? 3 percent? Am I being too pessimistic?

What do you think? Are "Real Christians" an endangered species on this continent? I know that the numbers overseas are much more dismal,
especially the numbers in Western Europe, but what about here? How many
"genuine committed Christians" do you think are left on the North
American continent, percentage wise?

Views: 8359

Comment by Randy Olds on May 26, 2010 at 8:57am
I think a better term might be "committed Christians'. There are a lot of people who are Saved who are not committed to a life of living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You might call them lukewarm or "Laodicean" Christians. I'm wondering what percentage of the population is really trying to live the life that Jesus taught us to live.
Comment by Michael Ballai on May 26, 2010 at 9:09am
I think the problem is that you are trying to evaluate the state of the Christian on the basis of what they are doing rather than on what He did. He said He would build His church. Right now it only looks like making bricks without straw.
Comment by Rey Reynoso on May 26, 2010 at 10:28am
Scottle has an article about the Church functioning like manure. It gets quiet, the place stinks, but there's the groundwork for real future growth. That's also possible.
Comment by Daniel on May 26, 2010 at 2:07pm
I think it may be a pessimistic number to narrow it down to 3-4% because it assumes that all committed Christians regularly attend church. I say "may be" because I still think it is a low number. I'd guess that most folks professing to be Christians (for whatever reason) are probably not.
Comment by Daniel on May 26, 2010 at 3:45pm
7K? I thought it was 144K. :)
Comment by Randy Olds on May 26, 2010 at 4:55pm

The point is not to judge the individual Christian or the work of Christ, but rather to try and evaluate the state of Christianity here on the continent. As a layman who has to spend the majority of my time "out in the world", I often feel so outnumbered by the non-believers and folks who might tell you "in confidence" that they are a Christian but haven't picked up a Bible or attended church in twenty years.

I work in a large factory (about 1000 employees) and often feel so outnumbered and overwhelmed by the secular world around me that I feel like I live and work in "enemy-occupied territory". I sometimes get the feeling that many that might work full time in a church or seminary environment are insulated to some degree to just how secular the world at-large has become.

I know that the "situation is neither as bleak and dire as some suppose nor as rosy and encouraging as others might assume" and I must soldier on.

I was wanting to get an idea of what others thought about the state of the North American Christianity, numbers wise. Of course, only Jesus Christ truly knows how many belong to Him, and we must not judge. But at the same time, we must be realistic about the World in which we live in.

Thanks for the input.
Comment by Harry on May 26, 2010 at 4:56pm
How are you to know who is a Christian and what is in their heart?
Comment by Daniel on May 26, 2010 at 6:16pm
@Harry, I don't think you can know from individual to individual. But there are general principles that can be applied. You can weed out all the folks that don't even claim to be Christian, those that have never repented of their sins even though they claim to be Christian, those that think they are because this is/was a "Christian Country" or because that is "how they were raised" and so forth. Even among the devout church-going crowd, God is going to send many (most?) away with a "I never knew you".
Comment by Alan Swartz on May 26, 2010 at 10:17pm
How can you be a Christian and reject the Bride of Christ? How can you be a Christian and not be part of his Body?

Comment by Apolojedi (Daniel Eaton)
I think it may be a pessimistic number to narrow it down to 3-4% because it assumes that all committed Christians regularly attend church. I say "may be" because I still think it is a low number. I'd guess that most folks professing to be Christians (for whatever reason) are probably not.
Comment by Daniel on May 26, 2010 at 10:28pm
@Alan - I don't think you *can* be. That is why I expect the numbers are actually pretty low.


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