The Fields are White for Harvest!

by | May 4, 2023

The Fields are White for Harvest!

Recently, the Religious Census 2020 was published by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies at this website: https://www.usreligioncensus.org. The decadal report shares the number of congregations and adherents for 372 religious bodies and groups in every state, county and metro area of the United States. Utilizing the report, one is able to estimate the number of Christ followers and the number of people who have yet to respond positively to the gospel. 

Remember, the information provided below is only an estimate. 

The US Census 2020 reported the population of the country is 331,449,281. The following percentages represent the adherents in the United States of each religious tradition:

Catholic18.7%
Evangelical Protestant16.5%
Mainline Protestant5.2%
Other3.1%
Black Protestant2.2%
Islam1.3%
Judaism0.6%
Hinduism0.4%
Orthodox0.4%
Buddhism0.3%
Unaffiliated (No Religious Tradition)50.9%

As the table illustrates, over half the population of the United States is unaccounted for in a formal religious organization. Also, Catholic, Evangelical, and Mainline Protestants continue to make up the largest percentages of religious affiliation in the United States. 

The Harvest

With so many unaffiliated and adherents of non-Christian faith traditions, we see the United States the way Jesus describes the world in John 4:35: It Is White for Harvest!! 

Out of the 331,449,281 population of the USA, only 54,689,131 (16.5%) are Christ-followers. Conversely, 276,760,150 (83.5%) people are living without the hope of the gospel. With so many people who need to hear the gospel, Christ-followers should be prepared for multiple gospel conversations every day.

Followers of Christ, let me encourage you to put the needs and interests of others before your own. Eight out of ten people you interact with today most likely will need to hear the gospel. Love them enough to take a few minutes out of your day to share the most important news. Tell them of the wonderful Savior. Jesus is worth it!

*Important Stipulations

As Southern Baptists, the Caskey Center staff and our intended audience falls within the Evangelical Protestant tradition of religions. According to the ARDA (https://thearda.com/us-religion/group-profiles/traditions), “Evangelical Protestant denominations and churches emphasize conversion and evangelism, hold biblical authority in high regard, and tend to seek more separation from the broader culture.”

As the definition states, we believe that Christ-followers are best represented within the Evangelical Protestant tradition. In light of this, we utilize the Evangelical Protestant percentage to gauge lostness in the United States. We acknowledge that Christ-followers are present within other traditions, and not all who are listed as adherents of Evangelical Protestant churches are Christ-followers. However, as a general estimate, this approach works well.

Of course, even if considering all Protestants as saved, there are still 76.1% of the population who are lost. The fields are white for harvest!

 

Jeffrey Farmer

Jeff Farmer, PhD, serves as professor of church ministry and evangelism and he is the associate director of the Caskey Center. He oversees the research efforts of the Caskey Center and consults with smaller membership churches.