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Missions 101

Christians Behaving Badly with Statistics - An Example

Apr. 5, 2013By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Have you heard something like the following?

In the next 20 years Muslims will overrun the Christian population in Western Europe because they are having large families.  If Christians do not start having more than 1.5 children per family in the West, we will be looking at a radical shift in demographics. 

I have heard this argument many times, either as a plea for evangelism or as an argument for Christians to have more children (the first great commission).  

Let me tell you three reasons why this line of argumentation does not work:

1.  It makes Christian faith hereditary.  While it is true that many Christian families produce Christian children, it is only because of the grace of God - you know this to be especially true if you have children!   Does anyone find it strange that the same people telling Christians to have more kids so that there are more Christians are the SAME people putting out stats that children from Christian homes are leaving the faith in droves?  It seems their studies don't have much overlap.

2.  It discounts a move by the Spirit of God to bring revival.  While there may be trend, it only takes one revival in one country to upset these statistics. 

3.  The third reason is most telling.  It is true that Muslim families from predominantly Muslim countries have large families.  However, Muslim children that grow up in Western countries do not necessarily have large families.  As Muslim women are given more opportunities out of the home and as Western values creep into families, second generation families in western cultures have less children, much closer to the average sized family in the western world. 

So we can rejoice that Muslims who were once in countries and among people group shut off from the gospel are now able to hear the gospel.  Let’s just not play with statistics to make unhelpful pleas.

Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International.  As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter

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