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Just recently, the Pew Research Center came out with a report indicating that by 2070, the percentage of the population that considers itself Christian may dip below 70%. That really does make for a dramatic headline, and certainly gives the Pew Research Center some high-level publicity.
But if all you read is headlines, you are going to get bamboozled! That is certainly true in general, as so many articles these days are nothing more than “click-bait” designed just to get people to click on a link that brings in advertising money. Well, I don’t know if the headline about the Pew Research Center’s report is designed for that purpose or not, but it sure is deceiving. (You can read the entire article at: https://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/christianitys-share-of-us-population-may-fall-inder-50-percent-by-2070-pew.html) This headline doesn’t even come close to giving the real truth. In fact, the very report itself is rather meaningless.
Check out this line in the article: “The report, Modeling the Future of Religion in America, combines decades of Pew data with data from the General Social Survey to present four hypothetical models of the future of faith in the U.S.”
What? Four hypothetical models? What they have done is throw some statistics into a computer model and told the computer to “show what would happen if switching (changing religious affiliation) ...
The article then goes on to say that the models are “not meant as predictions of what will happen.” In other words, they have no idea what the trends will look like! Personally, I’m really more interested in what we are facing today and how we got here.
Christian pollster George Barna gives us, I think, a better perspective on the current societal situation. Rather than trying to predict the future, Barna has polled modern American society to give Christians a more concrete idea about the religious environment we currently live in. According to his polling:
69% of Americans are self-identified Christians,
35% are self-identified born-again Christians,
28% are self-identified evangelical Christians,
6% possess a biblical worldview.
Over time, Barna’s polling definitely has shown a trend in America that shows increasingly lower numbers of people self-identifying as Christians, and higher numbers claiming to have no religious affiliation – and that trend is certainly disturbing. But the past is not a sure predictor of the future, and there are different ways we can look at that. We can freak out, become discouraged, and go crawl into a hole. OR, we can look at the situation and realize that there are so many people who need Christ, that no matter who we share our faith with, we are hitting a home run.It does make a difference the way we look at statistics. Some ways are totally useless but can still cause us to become discouraged. Other ways give us a clear picture of where we stand, along with hints about how we can positively move forward. This is particularly important for Christians as we survey the situation and plan how to move forward to accomplish God’s work through our lives.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
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