July 3, 2010, on this blog: Crept out the back door
America is home to hundreds, probably thousands, of evangelistic ministries — nonprofit parachurch agencies that exist, solely, to spread the gospel, which is to say to win converts. And they’re all very successful. Just ask them. From the godfather of the bunch, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, on down to the smallest mendicant ministries, these groups and individuals invariably report anywhere from dozens to thousands of “souls won” every year.
How can we reconcile those claims with the actual demographic facts reported consistently over the decades? Either the massive numerical claims of all those evangelists are seriously exaggerated, or else there is an equally massive exodus in which the same number of people as they’re bringing in through the front doors of the church are sneaking out the back.
I suspect, actually, it’s a combination of both. I suspect that the numbers are exaggerated, but that whatever the actual numbers might be, attrition is keeping pace with addition.