Doing things differently since 1984
I don’t trust statistics. I love them, but I don’t trust them. They are like street signs on a turnstile, they look informative but can be easily skewed into being outright deceptive.
But then I came across this: A simple poll, asking one simple question:
“If Jesus suddenly came back to earth today, would he approve or disapprove of modern Christianity?”
What would you answer?
That’s the question I asked myself.
Give yourself a minute to think about it.
Personally, I didn’t answer the poll, because I have too many questions to come up with such answers right now. But curiosity got the best of me… I had to find out what 7000 people had answered. I figured it would be kind of 50/50. The results were the most astounding thing I have seen in some time:
Yes, that’s right. Only 11% of the people who answered thought Jesus would approve of modern Christianity. You can infer for yourself who “those who answered” might be, but undoubtedly Christians and non-Christians and in-betweens were among those answering.
What this means is, both from within the modern Christian church and outside of it, the very same church whose foundational principle and mission is to follow Jesus, nearly everyone [in this poll] thinks it is failing. For all the jokes I’ve seen about it, this actually puts the church’s approval rating below Congress. Just think about that for a moment. There are two parts to this:
1) Most people outside the church think it’s failing. That isn’t really a surprise to me. I know many who have left the church because they feel that way; I know many more who have no interest in becoming a part of the church because they feel that way. It’s sad – tragic, even, and a call to action – but I wouldn’t call it “astounding”.
2) Most people inside the church think it’s failing. There is no way that only 11% of the mostly-American respondents would call themselves Christians. They voted themselves as failures! This is the part I can’t get my head around. What does that mean? Do Christians think Jesus wouldn’t approve of themselves? Do they think that they themselves are OK but everyone else would be disapproved of? Most importantly, how can anyone think these thoughts and not run up to the pulpit en masse and scream, “STOP!!! Everyone STOP!!! We’re doing it all wrong!!”?
If I was convinced that my boss wouldn’t approve of the job I was doing, I would try my best to hide my shortcomings. If I believed my boss was ALL-KNOWING, and a performance evaluation was around the corner, I would be in a right panic! How could any employee (or Christian) live with such a thought? Or are we all so blindly big-headed as to think that we as individuals have it right, but all the other people we pray with every week are wrong?!
Sadly, this is just a poll, which only shows us numbers, and doesn’t reveal anyone’s innermost thoughts. The comments section following the poll is even worse, full of the usual comments-section malarkey.
Sigh. I know this is just a poll, and could mean any number of things that are potentially less alarming than what I’m making of it. But this, guys – more than any article you’ve ever read about why people are leaving Christianity/the “church” in droves – this is the church’s illness. This is why the world mocks the hypocrisy of the Christian church. If we’re not following Jesus, then what are we doing, and why? And why should anyone else want to be a part of it? Perhaps it is time for us to stop preaching for a moment, and listen.
I promise you I’m no church-hater. I think that the very worst reaction anyone could have to this is, “Well that’s because they’re a bunch of morons!”, with “they” meaning anyone outside of yourself, your church, your circle, whatever group(s) you’re a part of. If this poll is a reflection of everyone doing just that, then we’re in even worse trouble than I thought. Self-important people can’t learn and change. And the reality is, we all evidently have some priorities that urgently need to change.