Friday, February 3, 2012

Seven Billion Souls - Considerations for Evangelism

World Population: 7,000,000,000 and counting.

world pop smA few months ago the newspapers and magazines here in Brazil were headlining the the 7,000,000,000th baby had been born somewhere in India. This, of course, just a guess based on the UN’s 2010 Revision of the World Population Prospects. According to the US Census Bureau we won’t reach that number until March 12th, 2012.

 

The world population has increased by 4 billion since 1960.

The amazing thing in these reports is not really that we’ve made it to seven billion as a planet, but that it has come so rapidly. Fifty years ago there were right at three billion people living on the planet, now there are seven. According to most predictions, in just fifteen years time, we will add yet another billion to our planet.

Discipleship must outstrip the population growth rate. In the US, it doesn’t.

In the US, our Southern Baptist Convention churches are discipling at this rate:

  • There are about 313 million people in the US, less than 5% of the world.
  • There are about 16 million SBC Christians, about 5% of the US population.
  • It takes 50 SBC Christians together a year’s time to baptize a single disciple.
  • Each baptism comes at an average cost of $35,000 in church spending.
  • It takes 65 SBC churches together a year’s time to start one new church.
*Source: 2010 church growth indicators for the Southern Baptist Convention

Now, to be fair, one must also consider that the SBC is the largest missions sending agency in the world, and these numbers do not reflect the foreign mission work these churches fund. On the other hand, delegating someone to “do the work for you” is not really full obedience.

The bottom line is that disciple making and church planting are not in the DNA of the majority of SBC churches. These churches, by their fruit, show that they either do not know how to grow the kingdom, or do not care. Personally, I believe they do care, but just don’t know how to change.

Questions for your church.

  • Is my church currently reproducing spiritual newborns at a higher rate than the population growth?
  • Is my church currently reproducing other churches at a higher rate than the population growth?
  • What is it going to take to be able to answer those questions affirmatively?

 

*UPDATE

I just started reading an article that is putting some perspective on this. The article “When Feelings Bend Statistics,” gives some good arguments against the unnecessary pessimism with respect to world evangelization. The article is over 2o years old, but gives a good reason for pause on the hand wringing.

Here is an interesting graph from the article:

Diminishing Task

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