What the Church Can Learn from this Election

This is not a political post.  Well, it’s kind of a political post but that’s not my intention.  I don’t want to debate the moral issues of this election or which candidate Christians should have voted for.  There’s enough of that on Facebook.  I want to talk about the changing demographics of our country and what the church can learn from it.

Most of what I watched leading up to the election thought the Republicans had it won (granted I watch a lot of Fox News).  They said their base was more motivated than the Democrats.  They figured voters who voted for Obama in ’08 were not as enthused this time around.  They assumed the national polls were off base and had underestimated the evangelical vote.  The polls weren’t off base and maybe it’s the evangelicals who underestimated things.

In explaining why his predictions were wrong, Dick Morris pointed out the following:

“By the time you finish with the various demographic groups the Democrats win, you almost have a majority in their corner.  Count them: Blacks cast 13% of the vote and Obama won them 12-1. Latinos cast 10% and Obama carried them by 7-3. Under 30 voters cast 19% of the vote and Obama swept them by 12-7. Single white women cast 18% of the total vote and Obama won them by 12-6. There is some overlap among these groups, of course, but without allowing for any, Obama won 43-17 before the first married white woman or man over 30 cast their vote. . . Having conceded these votes, Romney would have had to win over two-thirds of the rest of the vote to win.”

Here’s what I see in those stats.  Minorities are the new majority.  The demographics of our country are changing (or have already changed).  Married white folks over 30 no longer represent a majority of Americans.  But what does that have to do with church?  Well, look around your congregation this coming Sunday.  Who’s in the majority?  My guess is primarily old white folks.

In many churches, the demographics don’t look anything like the rest of the country.  They don’t even look like our own neighborhoods.  How many churches have you seen that even come close to percentages reflected in the vote?  For example, is 19% of your congregation composed of 18 to 29 year olds?  How many African-Americans or Latinos are connected to your church?

It’s a problem.  When the church’s membership doesn’t look anything like the communities around us we become disconnected from those communities.  When that happens, churches start to die.  Just look at the urban church landscape the last 25 years.  The ones that survived (or didn’t move to the suburbs) were the ones willing to adapt and change in order to reach a different demographic.  Are we willing to do the same in our suburban and rural churches?  I hope so.  Our future depends on it.

What is your church doing to reach young adults?  Is it racially integrated?  How can we reverse the trend and become a better reflection of the communities we’re trying to reach?

7 thoughts on “What the Church Can Learn from this Election

  1. I seldom if ever comment on anything anymore. I admit I am jaded – But I’m bored, and this one hit an old nerve. The demographics in this past election made it clear that the “new majority” favor tolerance. (i.e. pro choice, gay marriage, recreational marijuana,) Holding a moral conviction is no longer accepted or tolerated. The real question is: How can a church hold to it’s convictions and beliefs, preach and teach the truths of God’s word, and yet appeal to a demographic who who is no longer willing to listen? For the Republicans to grow their party they will have to cave to the majority and uphold gay marriage, abortion, and marijuana use. Will the church have to cave in order to grow? This is obviously not the ” by all means” that Paul talked about.
    Would love to hear your thoughts on this one. Keep up the great work.
    Gary A

    • You sound like an old white man! Seriously, that’s the other observation I had about the election. The culture is shifting away from Christian values. However, I wouldn’t connect to that to demographics. I think it’s much bigger than that. Christians are no longer in the majority and we don’t seem to realize it yet. We still talk and act as if the rest of the country shares our values. They clearly don’t. But all is not lost! The early church survived in a culture much more pagan than our own, but I’m sure they operated differently than the church of today. They didn’t demand that the Romans post the 10 commandments in their courtrooms or put prayer in schools or rally behind one particular political party. They belonged to a different kingdom. They sought to love, follow the way of Christ and live such lives amoung unbelievers that people would see their good deeds. That was more attractive than protests, politics or any of the other ways Christians of today have tried to impose our views on others. They certianly didn’t compromise the message (many of them died for it!) but I feel like they communicated it differently than today. I guess I’m thinking we may have to tone it down a bit and learn how to meet people where they are, not where we want them to be.

  2. A second thought and I might be way off base, but why isn’t the family of God moving into these states? It seems we have a missionary field right in our backyard. Let’s plant churches!!

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