In our fractured society demographic studies are the sacred scriptures of politics, education, and marketing. The categories of Latino, African-American, Anglo, and Asian are too large: demographics break down ethnicities into subcategories of gender, age, sexual orientation, and coffee-habits. In the church, George Barna has made a industry out of church demographics. We live in sociological ghettoes, and those who sell goods, services, and philosophies can find all the figures they need to target their message.
Our Creator has a different demographic approach: oneness—the kind of oneness that spans the gaps and unifies people of every nation, tribe, and tongue. Consider, for example, how Jesus launched his church:
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven . . . Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs . . .
In that moment when God chose to launch his ends-of-the-earth initiative, he chose to bring people together. Jesus indiscriminately poured out a one-size-fits-all solution on everyone: the true demographic of the church is the Holy Spirit. Church demongraphics is an oxymoron: True church demographics include everyone.
The earliest Christians learned again and again the work of the Spirit. The Comforter broke boundaries and distinctions worldwide. The Spirit of Christ favored one people, “neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female . . . all one in Christ Jesus.”
The Lord’s method was part of his message. One faith, one baptism, one hope, one Lord. The book of Revelation, that crazy picture of the moment when time itself is rolled up like a cloak, paints a picture of the Forever Days. For the truth about church demographics, perhaps we should look at Revelation 7:9: “. . . there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
God is a sweet community within Himself: Father, Son, and Spirit. Even in the midst of the Trinity’s sharp distinctions and clear identity there radiates a oneness. What keeps us from imitating his example?
This article on church demographics originally appeared here, and is used by permission.