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 anin depth study
and came away with roughly the same percentage - 20%. And Dave Olson,
the director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church hasa very interesting
slideshowthat indicates church attendance in the United States at
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
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 theMega-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?