Let me begin by saying I am not a big fan of statistics. In fact, I am very critical of nearly all statistics that are used publicly. I question the methods and motives of those who publish stats. “How do I know these are really accurate? Aren’t these stats altered for the user’s purposes?” In other words, I don’t lend a lot of trust to stats or their users.
Despite this, I’m starting to think it is occasionally worthwhile to listen to and at least be aware of stats that are shared. While stats may not be perfect, they tell us something – either about their ‘topic’ or their publisher, or both.
Here are three stats that recently caught my eye:
85% — in the last century all but fifteen percent of believers in the USA came to faith before the age of 20.
This is pretty discouraging being a college student. This means that by the junior year of most of my fellow students, the likelihood of them coming to know Jesus Christ drops significantly. The possibility is equal, but is much less common in our culture today.
This also supports the idea that the first two years out of high school are very crucial. Whether in college or not, the decisions we make in those two years are so important in forming the path for the rest of our lives. We experience a major ‘identity crisis’, asking ourselves, “Who am I? Who do I want to be? Who do I want to do life with? Where do I want to go? What do I want to do? What do I believe?” These questions, and their answers, are life-defining.
70% of those coming to faith did so primarily through the influence of their friends that age.
Wow, talk about peer pressure…just kidding…kind of. This stat really shows the impact that friends have on one another. Apparently it’s not the preachers or youth pastors who have the most influence. Not that I’m down-playing their roles – they’re definitely needed. Rather, I find it profound that this 70% is coming to faith through friends who are their age. Remember, this 70% is mostly people younger than 20 years old. How many 17 year olds have gone to seminary and had ministry or apologetics ‘training’? Not many. This is a testament to the importance of relationships and the sovereignty of God in using those who are the least ‘ministry-equipped’ to bring the lost to Himself.
3 years: the average length of time for a believer to be effective in evangelism before they become so Christianized that they lose significant contact with many of their non-Christian friends.
Every time I read this stat I am humbled and convicted. This is a huge warning all Christians need to take note of. In fact, I think it is more than just a warning. It is a call to repentance. When we find ourselves living safely in relationships with only other believers, we are living in sin. We have forgotten our mission – God’s mission.
Christ came into this world to spread the glory and name of the Father. He saved us by His blood for this reason. He has chosen to reflect and display His glory through us to the rest of the world. This is our calling and our purpose – to know the Father and lead others to Him. Which begs the question, if we’re not actively seeking to lead others to Him, do we really know Him?