Cultural & Religious Cheat Sheet

For the past week, I’ve blogged quite a bit on statistics and their use. I’ve discussed the misuse of stats, how to discern which stats are good and which are not, and even presented some new research on pastors’ views of the election and the use of stats.

You’ve responded with good questions and robust discussion (especially on my Facebook page). Through it all, I found a common theme in your tweets and comments: Where do I find accurate stats? While I can’t vouch for every research study conducted at every research firm under the sun, there are many trustworthy sources out there. You know their names, and I consider many of their leaders personal friends.

Since many of you use stats (as the research I presented yesterday showed) and want trustworthy ones to use, I thought I would share these stats I compiled for the Exponential Conference held this past April. These are as up-to-date as I could make them. But like any stat, they could be updated and changed. So before you use them, be discerning and verify them from the source listed in parentheses.


• World population is over 7 billion people and growing at over 80 million per year (Population Media Center)
• Facebook has 1 billion monthly active users (Facebook)
• If the world were 100 people (

  • 33 Christians, 22 Muslims, 14 Hindus, 7 Buddhists
  • 77 people would have a place to shelter them from the wind and the rain, but 23 would not
  • 1 would be dying of starvation, 15 would be undernourished, 21 would be overweight
  • 48 would live on less than $2 USD per day
  • 87 would have access to safe drinking water, 13 would use unimproved water



• 827,609 abortions in 2007 (most recent data) (CDC)

Finance (

  • Average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income
  • Over the last decade, the number of Americans without health insurance has risen from about 38 million to about 52 million
  • Total U.S. credit card debt is more than 8 times larger o than it was just 30 years ago
  • Americans now owe more than $904 billion on student loans, which is a new all-time record high
  • 1.5 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2010. That represented the fourth yearly increase in bankruptcy filings in a row

Medication (

  • 11% of women take antidepressants (highest in the world)
  • Children are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than Europe.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (

  • One in five people in the United States has an STD.
  • Two-thirds of all STDs occur in people 25 years of age or younger.
  • One in four new STD infections occurs in teenagers.

We’re Number 1! or USA! USA! (

  • Highest incarceration rate and the largest total prison population
  • Highest divorce rate in the world
  • Highest teen pregnancy rate
  • Most obese
  • More school shootings
  • Highest child abuse death rate
  • Produces more pornography
  • Gets more plastic surgery


• 88% of Americans agree “There is more to life than the physical world and society”
• 76% of Americans agree “There is an ultimate purpose and plan for every person’s life”
• 67% of Americans agree “A major priority in my life is finding my deeper purpose”
• 78% of Americans agree “It is important that I pursue a higher purpose and meaning for my life”


• 88% of American believe in God or a universal spirit
• 75% of Americans pray at least one a week


• 41% of the formerly churched said they would return to the local church if a friend or acquaintance invited them (LifeWay Research)
• 63% of Americans are willing to receive information about a local church from a family member (LifeWay Research)
• 56% are willing to receive it from friend or neighbor (LifeWay Research)

Read more from Ed here.

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Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu
comment_post_ID); ?> Amen!!
— Scott Michael Whitley

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