The $1,551,466 Christian


The Christian Church spends $1,551,466 to make one convert.

That figure comes from the World Christian Encyclopedia published by Oxford University Press in 2001. Accurate or not, even if the number were a tenth that, it’s still staggering. Remember also that it’s 2012, and money doesn’t go as far today, so the figure would be even higher now.

Only Apple has the warchest to spend that kind of money to get a customer. Even then, at that rate, its half-trillion dollars wouldn’t last long enough to generate a sustainable client base.

Simply put, if the Church were a business, it would be bankrupt. Marketing and sales would get the blame.

But the Church isn’t a business; it’s a collection of people joined by Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and tasked with a mission to make disciples. Given that $1,551,466 figure, the inescapable conclusion is that someone is not doing his part of the mission. Or is at least doing a mind-bogglingly ineffective job of it.

So, what is the fix?

14 thoughts on “The $1,551,466 Christian

  1. David

    The answer? Stop trying to win converts. Our task is simple, go into all the world, preach the gospel, disciple believers. Where does it say “win converts”? It’s the Spirit that convinces, not the Church. All we have to do is Love God with everything that we have, and through Him, love others. That’s it. No 10-point, 4 step, color-coded system. Love God, love others. Let the Spirit win the converts.

    The problem, of course, is the our churches are trying to win converts to their congregations, not Christ.

  2. francisco

    Hi Dan,

    In my opinion it could be both. We as church are not doing our job well enough (praying, evangelizing, discipling, serving, etc). But it also could be that the world is each time more resistant to the Gospel given its many counterfeits all around. And consider also the dead human heart that after the Fall hates God (or at the very least ignores Him) but rather pursues Mammon or another idol of the heart with more violence than God´s kingdom.

    This I know by recent experience. Last three years we have had three STM teams come (one each year) to help with English Conversation classes at a local university. Although we saw interest in students attending, not one of them came to church after the two first years. The third time (last year) we organized a science conference with the fourth and closing talk exploring the origen of life and the universe. So, after the final Q&A, we invited people for lunch next day. Had 15 students in attendence but only 1 of them came to a church retreat we organized with another STM who came to help us two weeks later…

    …Talk about resources spent to reach out university students down here! The young man eventually came to church services, is now a believer in Christ and is growing in his faith. Hasn´t been baptized yet though.

    Brother, let us not grow weary. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. So, pray for more laborers to come to the harvest to do real harvesting stuff!

    Thanks for reading

    • This is actually shentoimg we have been addressing at our church in the past few months. We have been incorporating more activities for our youth, such as– on a specific Sunday night, the youth conducts our entire service; our music director has incorporated some of the new Contemporary Christian music into our services, which the youth absolutely love. We have also brought a young youth minister in which has been such a blessing!Honestly, I think one of the main reasons the statistics are what they are is because a lot of churches are too set in older ways– not so much catering to the older members, but pacifying them by not incorporating newer ideas and technology into the service, etc. It is absolutely critical that we do all we can to make our young people feel a part of the church because they are the future of the church, and they need all the guidance they can get in this harsh and cruel world!!

  3. Don Costello

    I can remember when Billy Graham came to Cincinnati and it took I think two years of planning and a couple million dollars to hold the meetings. If I remember correctly the total number of people who went forth after the meetings totaled under ten thousand. I think it was closer to 5 thousand and most were re dedications. Don’t get me wrong, I thank God for those conversions, they are great. However when I look at Mark & Victoria Bowling of Global Impact Ministries (and other ministries like them), I see more first time converts in their week long meetings in India, people are healed, devils are cast out and churches are planted in communities. I want more power for my buck so I would rather give to overseas ministries that preach the full gospel.

  4. the US dollar number here may actually be conservatively low, and as it is for converts and not merely I led someone to the Lord.
    Billy Sunday had boasted conversions at “2 dollars a soul” (~$50 by US dollars today).
    If we’re to be honest about this, it is God who does the saving. He does not plug into our analysis; neither can His hand be bought.

  5. alan

    The Oxford Dictionary makes a good point about wasteful spending, but the premise that it is all about the number of converts is unbiblical. Unfortunately, some churches & para-church ministries are all about numbers. I’ve never understood why so many are hung-up on numbers, but I suspect it is because we use secular criteria to evaluate spiritual activities. The twain do not mix well for any purposes, including analytical.

  6. alan

    Sad that secular criteria is used by some to evaluate spiritual activity. The obsession with numbers has no biblical basis – whether used by proponents or opponents.

    • Well, I learned tnieshmog new. They must have changed the parameters for GenX, because I was born in 1980 and always thought I was a GenXer.. used to go to 1981… anywho… seriously? Only 4% of my generation believes the Bible!? Praise the Lord for Godly parents! Thank you Jesus! The kids need to be in Church… not youth group, not children’s church, but Church. I don’t me do not have these things, but a saved child, no matter what age, needs to be in “big” Church in my opinion, and the youth can STILL have their own group and attend regular services. Also, we HAVE to teach about having a RELATIONSHIP with our Maker and Saviour. If you are best, best friends with the God of our salvation, it won’t be so easy to walk away:) I pray my kids stay in Church…

  7. We need to practice the preaching of the gospel like the Bible says. The gospel should be the daily living of every believer in Christ. The Samaritan woman told all her sinner friends about Jesus on the very day that she believed in Him (John 4:25-30).

    Consider the book of Acts. There is not only the preaching by the apostles like Acts 2. There is also the speaking of all the scattered believers like Acts 8. “Those therefore who were scattered went throughout the land announcing the word as the gospel” (v. 4).

    My personal reminder is Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 9:23, “And I do all things for the sake of the gospel that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” How about, “I go to work, or school or to the grocery store…for the sake of the gospel.” If every genuine Christian lived such a life, many more people would be ushered to Christ.

    Surely there is the need for special gospel work but that can only go so far. The work of real evangelists is not just to preach but also to perfect the members of the Body of Christ to preach the gospel in their daily lives (Eph. 4:11-12). Proper tracts can be a helpful way to get started. At least that helped me to begin.

    May our love for the Lord, issue in a love for people and a prevailing spirit of gospel preaching, that compels us to learn and practice to speak to others in our daily life.

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