Pay no attention to statistics

I am a sucker for stats. Statistics are actually the biggest reason I like watching sports. But I think we are all suckers for stats. And I want to urge you to stop listening to stats. Listen to God’s Word. Pay no attention to stats. Pay attention to Christ.

Preachers use stats all the time to “wow” people: 80% of church kids fall away from the faith. 50% of Christian marriages end in divorce. [fill in the blank]% of evangelicals do not believe in eternal hell, the exclusivity of Christ, the inerrancy of the bible, etc. And no matter how many times you challenge Barna statistics, the most robust, Reformed, conservative, Bible-believing Christians will still say, “yeah, but…”

Look, I know that you can believe statistics and TOTALLY still believe God’s Word, but I just want to say that statistics are not helpful. At all. Yesterday, I heard this stat: 40% of Christians struggle with sexual addiction. The presenter’s conclusion: therefore, you need to address this with your church, AND, since these are all church-goers, clearly, the gospel is not enough to help sexual addicts.

Here are several reasons statistics are not helpful:

  • how many people were actually surveyed, and how do you know that means the rest of the world is the same? Was it 100 people? 1000 people? 10,000 people (that would be impressive, but I wouldn’t believe you, and it still is only 10,000)? Did you survey anyone at my church? The church down the road? At the mall? In an email? Did everyone respond? What in the world does 40% mean!!!!!
  • what does “Christian” mean to those who asked the question, and to those who answered the question?
  • how many of these “Christians” go to a church, a healthy church (which leads to all kinds of issues regarding the spectrum of church health)?
  • how do you know everyone is telling the truth on an issue that the “experts” say is so shameful?
  • what do you mean by “addiction”?

More importantly:

  • statistics do not have anything to do with the person coming to me for help
  • every single “statistic” is a person, made in the image of God, yet made intricately unique by God. None have the same DNA, none have the same parents, teachers, friends, pastors, etc. growing up. None have watched the same movies, read the same books, or memorized the same verses. Even if two people got remotely close in any of these categories, they are still two different people with different brains and personalities and thoughts and emotions. Every person must be handled with individual, specific, loving, gospel-centered care. In this light, statistics are at best misleading (tends to a cookie-cutter approach to helping people)
  • even if all statistics were true, if every “expert” out there was accurate in all their observations, if everything psychologists and psychiatrists and therapists and counselors and physicians and authors and professors said was true about the problems in the world, the gospel is still the answer for the person sitting in front of me.

Let us simply trust in Christ and His good news.


2 responses to “Pay no attention to statistics

  1. Statistics have too many variables, to summarize what you questioned about this particular stat. I think there is value in statistics, but I think they should be kept for the private use of the practitioner in that field, not for some persuasive word to the population. In the field of psychology they use the DSM to diagnose people. Like stats, this should be for the private use of the practitioner. Labels given to patients, in my mind, can skew their perception of self and even enable certain behaviors. To your article, “Well, 40% of the world is addicted to sex, I must be one of them.” We can wage a war against the adherence to God’s Word and the transforming power of the Spirit when we allow people permission to remain in their sin because a statistic said it’s normal. But then again, I hear only 20% of Christians actually place their entire trust in God’s Word… just kidding.

  2. Pingback: Response to the Anti-Trump Christians | Todd's blog

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