Some Statistics

Written by Drew on March 24th, 2008

Tomorrow morning I am speaking at chapel for Jefferson Christian Academy in Birmingham, Alabama. The manuscript for my speech is below.

I have decided to use my time in chapel this morning to share some important statistics with you. I know that statistics can be very dry and that you didn’t come here to learn about numbers, but I think that you will find this information to be useful.

God must love numbers or else he wouldn’t have named a book of the Bible after them. The Bible records several numerical records for us. There are large numbers: Three thousand were baptized in Acts 2; Jesus fed 5,000, not including women and children; he appeared to over 500 witnesses following his resurrection. But the numbers don’t have to be large to catch God’s attention. We can also find a parable about a shepherd who left ninety-nine to look for one lost sheep.

Getting to my point, here are the statistics I want to share with you this morning. According to Thom Ranier in his book, Closing the Back Door, in America, eighty-two percent of the people who become Christians do so before the age of twenty. Just looking at the raw data, if we don’t reach people with the gospel before they turn twenty, we will miss eighty-two percent of them. Even more striking is his finding that seventy-five percent of Americans who become Christians do so between the ages of nine and fourteen.

What happens after graduation? The Barna Group reports that between sixty-nine and ninety-four percent of Christian youths will abandon their faith after they complete high school. These numbers vary, depending on the religious body.

Putting these figures together, we see that high school is a crucial time in our lives. For most of us, if we do not get grounded in the faith during these years, we will not follow God in adulthood. Perhaps this is what Solomon meant when he said, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

These numbers establish the importance of youth programs in church and the need for parents to exert a godly influence on their children. They show the need for schools like Jefferson Christian Academy. But what do they say to young people? Here are some observations directed towards those who are directly affected by these statistics.

1. When it comes to salvation, there’s no time like the present. Teenagers have reached the age of accountability. Their guilt is fresh; they are ripe for conversion. In these years sin is easier to correct—young hearts are more malleable than old ones.

Besides this, the Bible teaches that procrastinating your obedience to the gospel is foolish. David advised us to call out to God “at a time when he may be found” (Ps. 32:6). Paul said, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

2. The toughest temptations are ahead. This is the only explanation for why most people become Christians before they are twenty and why most Christians fall away after high school. Conventional wisdom teaches that temptation peaks in high school, and it is true that teenagers are faced with a lot of challenges, but the numbers say the devil’s most powerful strike occurs after graduation.

Knowing this, you ought to be grounding yourself in the faith now, so that you will be ready when things get really tough.

Follow the example of Jesus. He had a sense of when he would face his greatest temptations, and he was ready for them when they came. At twelve he was in the temple, studying with the scribes. At thirty he was baptized by John in the Jordan River, even though he had never sinned. He explained to John that he needed to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness (Mt. 3:15). Soon afterwards he met the devil in the wilderness and faced three trying temptations. Because he was ready, he resisted every one.

3. Envision who you want to be in thirty years. If you want to be a Christian, the time to start down that path is now. Do you want to be a bitter unbeliever who has no hope in the next world? If so, there is nothing more for you to do to prepare to fulfill your dream. But if you hope to be a faithful Christian one day, you should take the first step now, while you are young. According to the statistics, if you don’t obey the gospel now, you probably won’t do it when you are older.

This is the advice given by King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (12:1). The ancient Hebrew term translated remember means “to act decisively on behalf of someone.” Solomon is saying, “Act decisively on behalf of God while you are young.” If you invest in evil now, you will pay heavy dividends in “evil days” later, as you deal with the consequences of your sin, the emotional scars, and the bad habits.

4. If you are already a Christian, you need to know that, being a young person, you will never be among a more responsive peer group. Evangelism is the duty of every Christian, not just the older members of the church (Mt. 28:19-20). The figures we have been talking about say that, as a young person, you have a special connection to the most responsive group of prospects in America. Are you using your position to an advantage?

Plato said, “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” This is true. You should never do anything just because that’s what the majority is doing. I would never want you to become a Christian now, just because this is the time when most people become a Christian. The reason I would want you to become a Christian is because every person who has reached the age of accountability is lost in sin. Jesus died to save the lost, and God has revealed how we can be saved by him in the New Testament. This is why I want people to become Christians. If there is anyone in this audience who has not been washed in the blood of Jesus, it is my prayer that he will obey the gospel now before it is too late.

 

3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Dale's Spot says:

    Drew – a great lesson. Of course you may know that I am an alum of JCA. I was a part of the firs class to begin and finish there – there were actually two of us. Me and Denise Russell. I graduated in 1980. Played on our first basketball team (I was in 6th grade and the team we played had seniors on it – we got beat 101-1, we went on in the years that followed to have some super years), first football team (we went 0-9 and only scored one time – our second year we were 8-1), I was on the first tennis team and track team. I’ve not been back to speak there in over 20 years…but am thankful for so much that happened in my life there.

  2. Drew Kizer says:

    I didn’t know that about you, Dale, although I should have guessed.

    I had a great time at JCA this morning. The student body seems to be growing, and the school is in good order. Bright things are on the horizon.

  3. Kevin W. Rhodes says:

    I just hope the student body was listening.

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