In doing some research recently I found some statistics that I believe many in the church would find amazing. It is not because of anything bad that is found in them, but how they work against the perspective that many in the body of Christ here in our country have as it pertains to the rest of the world.
I have often heard members of the body of Christ speak of the church as though it is mainly found in the United States, with small contingents of it in other parts of the world. As a contrast, they would state, the United States is a righteous nation compared to the rest of the world because of the perceived strength of the church in this country.
However, I believe there is a need for a little perspective when it comes to the church worldwide and how we fall into the mix. In 2008 it was estimated that there are between 5-6 million members of the Lord’s church in the world. This does not mean all of them are faithful and acceptable in God’s sight but is a rough estimate of the number of true Christians in the world.
Of those only 1.3 million are here in the United States. By percentages, that is less than 25 percent of the Christians in the world. By contrast, the nation of India has anywhere from 1-1.5 million Christians. Many sources have stated that they have already surpassed the United States and will continue to do so at a rapid rate. In Africa there are over 1 million members of the Lord’s body. This region is growing rapidly as well and will likely overtake the United States in number within the next 10 years. This does not include the congregations in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand, and others.
It needs to be recognized that the United States is not anywhere close to having the market cornered when it comes to New Testament Christianity. This should be a joyous revelation to many whose only view of the church comes from within the United States.
On the other hand, it should also be a wake up call to the Christians in this country. While a number of regions around the world are seeing the rapid growth of the church’s strength both spiritually and in numbers, the numbers in the Unites States, in many places, are going backward.
Christians in the U.S. are the richest in earthly possessions in the world. While that has been a blessing to many missionaries and congregations around the world, it can also be a curse. There are many in the Lord’s church in the U.S. today that are complacent, believing that all that is truly required for salvation is the attending of Sunday services. They have never taught another person the Gospel, never taught a Bible class, never taken it upon themselves to evangelize their own communities. The perception many times in this country is that there are so many Christians someone else will do that.
In a country of over 330 million people, members of the church make up less than 1 percent. Yet we act like the overwhelming majority of people in this country are members of the Lord’s church who are on their way to Heaven. It is time we got a little perspective. It is time that we look at where we are and what we are doing in relation to what God would have us do and the example found in our brethren throughout the world.
It is not a contest to see who can have the largest numbers or baptize the most people. It is a test of our will and desire to save men’s souls. How are we measuring up?