God’s Demographics

By: Pastor Chuck Morley


Demographics: "The statistical science dealing with the characteristics of a population, esp. as classified by age, sex, income, etc., for market research, sociological analysis, etc." (New World Dictionary of American English, Third edition)

In the mechanics of secular marketing, demographic studies are a must. Why waste time and money trying market snowshoes in Florida, or surfboards in Nebraska?

Many times, when fast food chains introduce a new specialty sandwich, they will only target specific areas of the country in order to test its acceptance. Record companies also release certain recordings on a regional basis. They are aiming their product towards a specific group of people they believe will purchase their product.

One of the first steps in today's "church marketing" evangelism is to identify our target audience. What type of people, culture, ethnicity, socio-economic group, age, or gender do we want to reach with our style of ministry? What do we need to incorporate into, or eliminate from our services that could effectively draw group "A" or group "B" to our church or ministry?

In light of the fact that this type of market driven evangelism has overtaken a vast portion of the evangelical church in America, I fear we have lost sight of the big picture of "biblical" evangelism.

Have we truly been moved on by the Holy Spirit to reach all the children in our neighborhood by hiring a clown to greet them at the door? Or a Hip-Hop band for the teens? Do we really believe that a guest golf pro, a tennis instructor, a NASCAR driver would draw the "unchurched" (the lost sinner) to our services?

We now have specialty churches springing up all over the country. These are churches who cater to specific groups or sub-cultures, like Cowboy churches, Biker churches and even Goth churches. I realize cowboys, bikers and Goths need Jesus, but are they being drawn by the Holy Spirit to these ministries and churches, or are they just attracted to a familiar secular life style. I personally believe the later to be true.

Will the true and living God accept our worship and service on our own terms? Or is there a god out there, somewhere, who we think to be just like us, who solicits himself in a way that will appeal to and appease our carnal nature and sub-culture? The answer is a simple; YES! And he's called the "god of this world".

When Jesus called four fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James and John into ministry, He told them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." There is no biblical record of them running out and planting the "First Church of the Cod Catchers". Nor is there any mention of specialty churches for farmers, slaves, former tax collectors, ex-prostitutes, or converted Pharisees.

These holy men of God had one basic life-changing message; "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" They walked from city to city with no money, or even a change of shoes; they depended entirely on the provision of the Lord. If the people received them, God's peace and blessing rested on that city.

To the farmers they preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." To the tax collector, Pharisee and prostitute, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." If the people rejected their message, they shook the dust off their feet and moved on to the next city.

Today's pragmatic and emerging evangelism seemingly won't take no for an answer. In order to receive acceptance by our target audience, we have offered them anything and everything we feel will make them comfortable and at ease in Zion.

However, every member of the early church, and still many of today's churches, regardless of their culture, ethnicity, age, race, sex, height or weight had one thing in common. It was not their vocations, music genre preference, hair color or clothing style. Nor were they held together by the oratory skills of their pastor, theater seating or a food court. These people had heard the uncompromised word of God, delivered under supernatural power and anointing. It had brought them face to face with their sin, transgression and iniquity. With broken hearts and crushed spirits they acknowledged a life of offense to a holy God and on His terms fell beneath the crimson flow of Calvary's cross. There they languished without excuse until they encountered the real Jesus. As they repented they were flooded with His marvelous grace, forgiveness and cleansing. They forsook the bondage and yoke of sin and put on Christ. God's acceptance had made them new creatures in Christ. They no longer thought like the world, lived like the world or desired the things of the world. The truth had made them truly free.

Who, in their right mind, could reinvent, repackage or try torediscover such an experience, or who would even consider a new way? Why would anyone, who calls him or herself a Christian, even try?

If we still feel that we must target a specific group, biblically we must target, "Whosoever will". This includes the entire world, that is who we are called to preach the gospel to, whether it is accepted or not.

Our church is comprised of many diverse groups. It includes Koreans, Liberians, Nigerians, Asian Indians, whites and African Americans, both young and old, each with their own individual, national and ethnic identities and cultures. How can we possibly be relevant and relate to each of these different groups? Simply – we don’t try! We’re not called to, nor did Jesus come to save a culture. We preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to "all people", the same gospel – the same way.

If the gospel we preach does not have the power to transcend every culture, every ethnicity, language or age group, it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is another gospel, a gospel to be exposed and shunned.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16)

“Those who want to win the world for Christ, must have the courage to come into conflict with it.” (Titus Brandsma, Christian martyr)