The 2010 Census and the Future of the Great Commission

children-newThe findings from the 2010 census are set to be released this summer, but some preliminary estimates are already being reported by the Associated Press. Every Christian who wants to understand what Great Commission ministry is going to look like in this century needs to pay attention to these numbers.

Probably the most significant item in this report relates to minorities. No doubt, many of you have already heard that demographers predict that by 2050 whites will no longer be the majority in the United States. This census finds that for the first time minorities already make up a majority of babies in the U.S. This means that the churches in America that wish to fulfill the Great Commission in the United States will have to have a strategy for reaching America as it is, not as it was. In short, that means that we are going to have to believe and practice what our parents taught us: “Red, yellow, black and white—they are precious in His sight.” If your church is not welcoming to minorities, not only will your church be in sin (Matt. 28:19; Rev. 5:9-10), it will also become increasingly irrelevant.

Here’s another item from the report that we need to pay attention to: “We’re moving toward an acknowledgment that we’re living in a different world than the 1950s, where married or two-parent heterosexual couples are now no longer the norm for a lot of kids, especially kids of color.” This reality is as sad as it is sobering. But it also alerts us to another set of challenges that we have to face.

First, more than ever, androgynous disciple-making is no longer going to cut it (and really, it never did cut it). Making disciples in our churches must include an unflinching commitment to a biblical vision for families. This means that our churches are going to have to teach our men to be faithful husbands and fathers, our women to be faithful wives and mothers, our little boys to grow up to be Christian men, and our little girls to grow up to be Christian women. In short, we have to bear witness to and live out biblical manhood and womanhood. The culture is pressing us to abandon this vision, and apart from a tenacious commitment to that vision our families will disintegrate just like they are in the rest of the culture.

Second, our churches need to be ready to minister to people who do not belong to a family with both a mommy and a daddy. We are already facing this reality, and it looks like the trend is only getting more dire. Who else but the church of Jesus Christ will be able to bring the gospel to single moms and fatherless children? And who else but the church will be able to be a surrogate family for those who need one? Are we ready for this challenge? Is your church meeting this challenge now? Again, if your church is unwilling to meet this challenge, not only will your church be in sin (Matt. 25:40; Psalm 68:5), it will also become increasingly irrelevant.

As I think about my own church and denomination, I know that these figures represent challenges to business as usual. But that is okay. Sometimes we need our cages rattled. My hope and prayer is that our response will be a deepening commitment to the Great Commission—that in our own country we would commit to making disciples of every people group. The Lord’s arm is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1). Let’s join Him in this work.

6 Responses to The 2010 Census and the Future of the Great Commission

  1. Stephen Baggett June 23, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Thanks for this. The topic is of utmost relevance in that it focuses on the single greatest command we are to obey as followers of Christ, to go and share the gospel. Yet it seems it is the least obeyed in our culture today. I stand in particularly strong agreement with the section of this article dealing with the need to focus on the family first. As I’ve traveled to other countries and heard from other brothers and sisters who have done the same, one stricking and sobering theme around the world is the dereliction of duty of men as leaders in their families. From India, to Romania, to Hondurus, and all throughout the USA, men are opting to remain in the role of “little boy” instead of taking on the responsibility of making disciples of their children. The gap this leaves in the family is a cancer eating away at the spread of the gospel around the world. Rise up, Oh men of God!

  2. G June 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    When we say “welcome” minorities, do we simply mean that we allow them to sit on our pews, become members, and maybe even watch a kid or two in the nursery? Surely this is part of welcoming those who the culture refers to as minorities but this is not enough. We must also be willing to accept “minorities” into positions of leadership in our churches. I realize this may be uncomfortable for some people and may even mean that they must think through and recognize their biases and presuppositions about minorities, but, if we are truly going to “welcome” them, we must be willing to accept them into positions of leadership, such as those involving preaching and teaching. All too often–dare I say most of the time–this is not the case. In short, welcoming people into our churches does not simply mean they can sit among us but also that they can lead and teach us. If we are not willing to do this, then, dare I say, we may be guilty of sin.

  3. Denny Burk June 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    Amen, brother Stephen! Great to hear from you!

  4. Charlton Connett June 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Denny,

    Thank you for bringing this subject up. Having already heard the statistics for single-parent households in most urban centers I’ve been trying to encourage the churches I have been a member of (2, due to moving) to recognize the need to be fathers to the fatherless. I think this generation, perhaps more than any other generation in America, is going to have to re-evaluate and take more seriously the words of James about what true religion looks like. For far too long most churches have thought of caring for orphans as the exception, today it has become the rule for those serving in inner cities and urban areas. (At the same time, as our government recognizes the need to cut or seriously reform entitlement spending, we will also be forced to re-evaluate what it means to care for widows.)

  5. Daveyboy June 25, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    “We’re moving toward an acknowledgment that we’re living in a different world than the 1950s, where married or two-parent heterosexual couples are now no longer the norm for a lot of kids, especially kids of color.” I don’t mean to be nasty, but was this written by a teenager?

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