Winning the World

Let’s play a numbers game…

The world’s population is headed rapidly toward 7 billion people. Of that number, perhaps 1.8 billion people speak some form of English either as a first or second language. America itself contains a mere 300 million residents. And of those 300 million only 2.5% (or about 7.5 million people) are Independent Baptists “in the evangelical tradition.” Not even all of those are fundamentalists as we understand them, but for the sake of argument lets assume they are.

If we take a step back, that means that of the entire population of the planet, fundamentalists make up 0.10% — the bulk of which are sitting at home in America stealing members from each others churches. And yet, somehow in every missions conference I’ve ever seen I’ve been told that Baptist fundamentalists missionaries are somehow the only hope that the world has to hear the gospel. My calculator tells me that if that’s the case then the majority of the world literally hasn’t got a prayer.

We can all be glad the congregation of the saints is a wee bit bigger than fundamentalism.

107 thoughts on “Winning the World”

  1. “the bulk of which are sitting at home in America stealing members from each others churches”. . .LOL. So very true.

    1. Ding Ding

      Spot On

      Well Said

      So True

      Mr. Dow you always blog what I think and your point couldn’t be more accurate.

  2. Well, that’s why they send out missionares. They may be too young, unqualified and underprepared, and don’t have to account for their missionary work (with most independent baptist missionaries never ever seeing any fruit), but hey…

  3. Based on what I heard from the pulpit, if the numbers above are correct, that means that 99.90% of the world’s population are all living miserable lives.

    1. Does that 99.90% include those of us who travelled down that “Slippery Slope” and become reprobates?

      Or are we classified in our own little segment?
      ***Please note, I really love the fundy terms!! 😛

    1. Wonderful article!

      “How would the locals react if they saw how their stories and pictures are being used to fund-raise” is absolutely true.

      I was one of those kids used in a fund-raising appeal. I was already a Christian, from a middle-class home from a city the size of Boston. Yet, the missionary took a ton of pictures of me in the Christian camp, to use as example of lost children in the Jungles of Costa Rica.

      I have seen presentation where the “lost” are actually pictures of the local pastor’s family.

      1. It’s always struck me as strange that so many Fundy foreign “missions” are to countries that are already overwhelmingly Christian, like Costa Rica or Mexico or Haiti. I realize that many of these churches hold that Christians who don’t happen to belong to their sect are as bad as Pagans, or worse, but still …

        I guess that brings us back to “stealing members from each other’s churches.”

        1. THANK YOU! I do not understand why churches INSIST on going to Africa for missions. It’s more of a humanitarian effort than anything else.I wish they would just call that instead leading people to believe that Africans don’t know Jesus. Granted there are still parts that need to hear the Gospel, but Ghana?! Christian Ghana?! Why not the northern part of Africa that is mostly Muslim? It drives me crazy.

        2. Most Africans are poor in material goods, but they don’t lack for religion.

    2. Sounds like he’s from the Milton Martin camp. I especially like the part about asking the locals for their perception of the work. My parents always talk about the church they built up to 100 in Albania and blame civil unrest for breaking it up. When in reality, only two or three actually still call themselves believers. The rest were curious or just children who wanted to see the weekly puppet show. My dad still calls himself these people’s pastor and expects obedience from them even though they go years without talking to him… 🙄

    3. I don’t take issue with today’s post, but Steve Hafler is IFB IIRC. Let’s not paint with too broad a brush in our good-natured criticisms.

    4. Are these not many of the same problems we have he re in the States? Don’t local pastors follow this same game plan in the local Americanized buildings built for the glory of the pastor and his ministry? Is it not true that many of these Pulpitmasters have built themselves up as the end all be all of worship? Is the cult of personality any less here in America? So is it any small wonder that when missionaries go to the field that they emulate the formula that was so successful at home?

  4. Makes you wonder about all those sermons about us being close to the end times. How can we be if the “gospel’ hasn’t really gone anywhere yet?

    When will they realize that they are a tiny minority in the big picture and their influence is basically zilch?

    And could they please stop sending missionaries to countries that already have a significant Christian presence?

    1. I don’t know what you’re talking about. 0.01% of the population is about 700,000. That’s FIVE TIMES as many as the 144,000 saints mentioned in Rev. 14:1. Factor in the fact that every fundy camp the pastor disagrees with is going to Hell, and you have the 144,000 right there. That angel’s got his lips puckered, ready to blow that trumpet any second now!

  5. Reading this reminds me of the old e-mail of the mathematical impossibility of Santa visiting all the good boys and girls on Christmas Eve. 🙂

  6. I am no math genius but somehow I sat under sermon after sermon where they literally gave an equation to how they were going to do “reach the world”.
    Not sure if the Holy Spirit had any part in it but hey- it was like riding the tea cups at the fair- made your head spin.

        1. Oy, vey!

          A bunch of white people dressed up like an assortment of ethnic groups (or what those ethnic groups wore 100 or more years ago) is borderline creepy, and definitely hokey.

        2. To be fair. Most nations have a “national” costume of which they are quite proud. Otherwise how would people know that Leavenworth, Washington is a Bavarian Village?

      1. I noticed there was not a single brown face in the choir. Arizona needs to learn what Indiana is doing right, to keep all those unwanted people out.

        I guess we want to reach tehm for Christ, as long as they stay “over there.”

        1. In his book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” Philip Yancey commented that when he was Growing up in the Deep South, his Fundamentalist Baptist Church would send thousands of Dollars (a lot on money in the 50’s and 60’s) to covert the Pagans in Africa, but were proud of the fact that no African-American would be allowed to set foot in their Chrurch Building.
          (No wonder the Fundamentalists *HATE* Yancey and any of his books)

        2. Ricardo, maybe you should contact Philip Yancey and ask him if YOU would be allowed into the Church he grew up in…..

      2. @ Polished Shaft That was painful, in performance and theology. Again, taking a song from a Southern Gospel group, The Bishops, who would never “check” at HAC or FBCH and then sanitizing it to make it fit their rules. So hypocritical.

      3. OMG! They painted a white kid what looks black but probably was supposed to be brown to represent Mexican? What a bunch of *******.

      4. The kid with the baseball cap, I’m wondering which country he represented. I’m thinking Detroit.

        1. HAC has sent missionaries to Detroit, I am sure of it, there are so many clones here its obscene

      5. Oh shoot! I helped sew some of those costumes. Why oh why did I waste valuable time on that? What a crock!

      6. Apparently all the women in different nations wear hideous jumpers. I would have never guessed! :mrgreen:

      7. Hey, where are the naked tribes with the men wearing penis sheaths, and the women with full body scarrification? They were going native weren’t they?

        1. They also forgot the people who slit their lower lips to insert huge disks, and the women who use brass rings to stretch their necks by about a foot.

    1. I think it’s basically a pyramid scheme: I’ll convert a hundred people, then each of them converts 100 (which makes 10,101), then each of them converts 100 (making 1,010,101), and so on. As with all multilevel marketing plans (Amway, Mary Kay, Herbalife, etc., etc.), the flaw in the strategy is that it only takes a few levels to run out of people willing to buy into that crap.

      1. Whoops, this was supposed to go with I Am His Beloved’s comment above on math equations for converting the world.

      2. Pyramid Schemes! Bwhaa..rampant at FBC.. For a while there it was that pomegrante juicy juice stuff and Primarica, Mary Kay, Herbal life, buying dnari, taking out a second mortgage to invest in a housing scheme, HCG shots …super deeelicious candy bars…I could go on…and on…

        1. College students are probably all vulnerable to pyramid schemes. I know several went around PCC while I was there. I think Primerica was one. If one of your friends/relatives comes to you w/ a pyramid scheme, you are better off just giving them some cash for nothing (or to go away) than to sign up for the scheme.

        2. You prompted me to look up “HCG shots,” which I hadn’t heard of before. Man, that is super weird. 😯 And people are selling this system door-to-door?

        3. Omg… there’s this one lady at my new (non IFB) church who’s trying to get me to “work” for Primerica… I immediately recognized it as a scam and bolted away from her.

    2. Same here (@ I am Beloved). It wasn’t until I read a statistic that there are more Facebook users than Protestants (let alone IFBs) in the whole world that I realized something’s wrong with the IFB missionary model.

  7. “We can all be glad the congregation of the saints is a wee bit bigger than fundamentalism.”
    Amen! For me one of the unexpected joys of leaving IFB has been discovering that all “those people” (Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, etc, etc, etc,) often are Christians and that we CAN work together to share the gospel, feed the hungry, help the poor, provide medical assistance, etc.

      1. Yep, it has been a relief to know that people outside of the IFB can actually make it into heaven, even though they won’t actually be able to eat at the supper of the lamb because they’re not part of the true body (which is the IFB) 🙄

        1. I’d prefer to skip that supper with all the lunatics that say they’ll be there anyway! 🙂

      2. Yep.

        We can also work with Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus, who have many of the same ethical beliefs and desires to help the needy.

  8. My cynical 2 cents: Most missionaries I saw were preacher called men who were terribly unqualified to go anywhere and start a church. It is a resume builder to go to a mission field for 4 or 8yrs then come back and take over a chuch close to “home”. Most claimed the field they were in was so “hard” thereby giving them the out for having NO RESULTS! That’s my 19+ yrs of experience in the system.
    It’s not glamorous enough to just love your neighbor and share Jesus love. Us “little” people are left to do that while they fight the devil on the front lines.
    There are a few good folks out there who are sincerely do it right, my brush is broad, I know.

  9. Fred, Yes, there are many “drone” missionaries out there. but there are plenty of good, hard working missionaries also.

    The problem is not the missionaries themselves but the culture of dependence they generate.

    Yes, the missionary family may only be drawing a $20,000/year salary, but they have a house, with two bedrooms, kitchen, living room and dining room, all with wood floors and glass windows, much, much more than the local pastor and his family have.

  10. Many times I sat at missions conferences and heard the sermon that if we send more missionaries than we will “help” Jesus to return sooner. The sermons were based on this verse, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”(Matthew 24:14 ESV) So Jesus is simply waiting for us to get our act together. Poor impotent God, wishing that someone as strong as man would help Him out so He can return.

    Also, stuff fundies like; preaching premillennialism while practicing functional amillennialism.

    1. I think my reason for being a Theist is rooted in my conviction that the universe is run by something way more powerful than me or any other human. The Fundies seem to believe the opposite: We control what God does and when Jesus will reappear.

      1. Lately I’ve been saying that my God is too big to fit into the imagination of a Fundamentalist. 😉 When we consider the true meanings of ‘eternal’ and ‘infinite’ there really is no human frame of reference that can approximate what God really is. Thankfully God corrected that by sending His Son. And what was the initial response? To try and stuff Him into a box as well. When will we learn?

  11. And yet, with only a 1/1000 stake in the world, they can’t seem to be marginalized into a position concurrent with their own irrelevance.

    1. This quote is somewhat out of context but applicable I think. It is from Orwell’s Notes on Nationalism, which I was reading today:
      “Probably the truth is discoverable, but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in almost any newspaper that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or failing to form an opinion. The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs. Since nothing is ever quite proved or disproved, the most unmistakable fact can be impudently denied. Moreover, although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the nationalist is often somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What he wants is to feel that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory. Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.”

      A lot of this article reminded me of fundystan. Disconnection from reality, Obsession, subversion of self to the cause, refusal to accept contrary facts, willingness to alter facts to better reflect your view of what is right, etc etc etc

      1. I would add that many of the problems inherent to fundamentalism are found in equal measure in the broader culture. For example, the Orwell quote above; another example would be the conspiracy-theory lens of looking at the world of politics (e.g. Rush Limbaugh and his endless artificial natural classes – but who studies philosophy anymore?). Contemporary sociologists agree that the conspiracy theory has replaced democracy as the normal lens for viewing politics in popular America. So, I think most fundy-ism is little more than the application of broader cultural memes applied to Christianity. My 2 cents.

        1. Yes, in many ways, fundamentalism has mainstreamed. When my family got involved in the late 70s, many of its main themes were very much marginalized to the extreme to the point of embarrassment for a kid like me at 13 (I kept it all hush hush amongst my neighborhood and public school friends). Now, all the conspiracies are perfectly palpable and your just naive to believe otherwise…

        2. Hmmmm. I don’t want to bring up politics and hijack the post. I will say this, fundyism seems to be a magnification of the foibles of our society. In other words, these tendencies exist in the general population but not in the quantity that fundies exhibit. This may be due to the fundy emphasis on isolation from the rest of the world. Once you enter the fundy echo chamber all you are exposed to is a crazy that magnifies over time. Of course, this tendency is not exclusive to fundystan. Once you leave, you can see the elephant in the room when you speak with fundies and you tend to be shocked that they cannot see it and that they label you nuts for seeing it.

        3. In psychiatry, the difference between normal variation and mental illness is usually a matter of degree. If you feel sad, it’s normal, but if sadness overwhelms you until you can’t live your daily life, you have depression. Being suspicious of certain other people is normal, but if you believe that people are following you everywhere and forming secret plots against you, you probably have a persecution complex. Most people believe certain things that are not true, but if you spend your days talking to people who aren’t there, you may be schizophrenic.
          Most people believe that sin is a problem, but if you believe that almost everyone else is possessed by Satan, you’re probably a Fundy.

  12. The fundamentalist baptist folks should leave winning the world to the evangelists, not the missionaries and their tiny, struggling churches. After all, don’t we always hear about meetings that evangelists have in Africa where hundreds of thousands of people get saved in a day? Now that’s some bang for your buck. Of course, the number of saved people in Africa never goes up one jot, even though if you add up the numbers from the evangelists there have been 3 billion people saved in Africa since 1980, but I’m sure that’s just because the mainstream media doesn’t want us to know the truth.

    1. Interestingly, the growth of Christianity in Africa since 1900 is one of the most significant but least known geopolitical stories of our time. But you’re right: It’s had almost nothing to do with American fundamentalists.

      From wikipedia:

      “As evidence, only nine million Christians were in Africa in 1900, but by the year 2000, there were an estimated 380 million Christians. According to a 2006 Pew Forum on Religion and Public life study, 147 millions of African Christians were “renewalists” (a term that includes both Pentecostals and Charismatics). According to David Barrett, most of the 552,000 congregations in 11,500 denominations throughout Africa in 1995 are completely unknown in the West. Much of the Christian growth in Africa is now due to African evangelism rather than European missionaries.”

      1. There’s also a good deal of evangelism by Africans to countries outside Africa, including the U.S., these days.

  13. I remember going to Romania for a missions trip and the Missionary’s house looked like an American styled house. It all kinds of ammenities. This was when I was a teen but it bothered me for years. Now I see that a lot of these people go over there not with a burden and desire to give up everything but to continue to live an American lifestyle in a economicly depressed country.

    1. A naturalist whose name escapes me once observed that people who love winter really love being in a cozy house by a fireplace with a cup of cocoa, with winter easily locked outside when they’re done enjoying it. People who love “the simple life” often really love being able to buy “simple” goods made by “simple” people to decorate their comfortable middle-class American homes. Eating “simply” when they don’t have guests over, or when they do, so they can talk about the simple life with the menu as an example. Or dabbling in crafts that people had to toil at sunup to sundown six days a week back when life was “simpler.”

      1. Don’t believe people who tell you they love winter, or summer, or fall, unless they work outdoors all day. Those are the ones who know what the seasons really are.

        (I mention summer because, where I live, our 102-degree summers are harder to bear than our 50-degree winters.)

  14. My friend from Germany was with me in a conference in a deputation meeting with missionaries hoping to go to Germany. In the presentation the missionary candidate stated that there were no good churches within a 200 (or however large an area he said) mile radius of his area. My friend was LIVID. She had grown up in that area and knew of several very, very good churches. They were Brethren in organization, but clearly preached the gospel pulling no punches. What is wrong with us fundamentalists? And the Brethren model does seem like it would eliminate some of the preacher-God kind of problems!

    1. I will say that I know that when Bob Jones takes its musical mission team over to Europe, they go mostly to Brethren churches because they say the Baptist churches tend to be more Catholic than the “American Baptists.” However, they aren’t allowed to wear make-up etc. because that’s offensive to most Brethren congregations. European Christianity is very different than American Christianity. Unfortunately, most people just won’t accept a cultural difference like that.

      1. In the 70s I attended a Charismatic church that sent a group to Germany and Poland, The story was told of the German preacher who shed a tear over the sad state of American Christian women with thier provocative dress, flamboyant makeup, and overall worldly appearance. The tear ren down his cheek, onto his pipe, and into his mug of beer…

  15. When they come to places like South Africa, they don’t set up their churches in the areas of most poverty with most need, nope, they head straight for the richest suburbs and start to take over existing affluent churches. This is not about helping the poor or even reaching the poor, it is about developing your customer base(specifically the new rich in the developing world).

  16. Don’t bother a fundy with statistics or facts unless your quoting their outrageous claims of the number of people the preacher got saved last Sunday. (because the fundy preacher is the one who actually saves…. 😉 )

    1. We had a missionary to Mexico’s mountain regions. He had “ministering” in that region for a couple of decades and claimed to have led 100’s to the Lord every year. Odd how his church was located in a village of a few hundred and only had a couple of dozen people in attendance.

      1. Logic and arithmetic are only for those wicked, atheist philosophers, apparently.

  17. You know, my husband and I are looking for a church now that we’ve escaped Fundamentalism, and after reading scores of church website doctrinal statements I’ve realized that Protestant churches in general are much more alike theologically than different. We really should get along better at home and abroad. What a shame we don’t.

    1. Shortly after leaving, my husband and I joined an evangelical pastors’ network and the doctrinal statement we signed accurately and fully covered the doctrines I’d been taught were essential to Christianity. It grieved me that all my life I’d separated from people like this, falsely believing that they were doctrinally incorrect. Sure we have differences, but I believe most fall under the areas of Christian liberty. How I wish we would focus on the 95% (or more) that unite us than on the little differences that divide us.

      1. I hear you, PW! As the new the president of the Protestant Women of the Chapel here at our small base in the UK I find myself amazed, delighted and humbled at these gals who come from about every protestant background there is, not to mention a number of really cool ladies from the Catholic chapel. It’s in a situation like this that one gets to really see what matters most. It’s not Calvinism or Armenianism, it’s not views on the rapture, not clothes, not music. The common point is Jesus and doing what he asked us to do: love others and glorify God.

  18. “The most sobering reality in the world today is that Fundamentalism is ignoring people who are going to hell today.”

  19. “We can all be glad the congregation of the saints is a wee bit bigger than fundamentalism.”

    Can y’all gimme a “Honalulu??!!”

    (I wanna go THERE! as a missionary) 😛

    1. Fundies make liberal use of Biblical accounting, “One Fundies is as a thousand.”

      But the kicker is in supplying missionaries around the world according to Deut.32:30, “two have put ten thousand to flight.”

      But we’re not sure if it’s round trip or not. Check with your Travel agent, er, I mean missions board for details. 😉

  20. The original missionary should serve as our example. No, not that one, the apostle Paul. He established local churches and moved on.

  21. I remember back in the mid-80’s seeing a movie in church about a missionary family in some tropical country (I don’t even think they named the country). It struck me as odd that the missionary family was living in a Western-style frame house *complete with pane glass windows* amidst the stereotypical village of huts made from tree branches or whatever. Even then I was thinking of how this set the missionaries apart from the locals when in fact they should be making every effort to live as much like the locals as possible (again, as tlorz2 said above, following the example of Paul). Just thinking of the resources that were used to produce that one building (which seemed only to serve as a dwelling and not as a church, school, hospital, or something else that might be useful to the whole village) made me wonder about the whole enterprise. Granted, it was only a movie, but it was emblematic of the way missions work is approached by many churches.

      1. Ha! I’m glad we visited this website when we did. Yeah, we’re anti-Catholic if this site is anti-Baptist. Not really. You must recognize thatnif Salvation Is by Grace through Faith ALONE, then Roman Catholicism really is a false religion. We will not allow people like IntMfg to go unchallenged here or anywhere else. He is preying on people, hoping tomget abused former IFBs to associate all of Evangelicalism and Protestantism with the legalistic IFB who actually have more in common spiritually with Roman Catholicism than with Evangelicalism.

        And if prayers to anyone other than God represent idolatry, then again, Roman Catholicism is a false religion.

        I see that your Gravatar is a screenshot from a perverse scene in the movie “Airplane” where a woman fellates an inflatable man. I know because I watched this movie before I was a Christian.

        1. This is getting good now.

          Actually the woman re-inflated the inflatible man. If your mind is wicked enough to interpret that as fellatio, then you need to repent and find an altar immediately.

          Why do I feel like I am a part of “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Adventure”

        2. Anyone who has seen the movie knows what I am talking about.

          Also, I find it hypocritical that you guys criticize IFBs (which I am not) for saying that Catholics are not Christians, when this has been the historic view of Confessional Evangelical Protestants, and of all Evangelical Protestants before Billy Graham. Before that, only the theological liberals (who are themselves not Christians) would argue that Catholics are Christians.

          Again. It is not surprising to see people like IntMfg preying on the spiritually abused, but true Evangelicals will not let it go unchallenged.

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