Christianity Isn’t Just For Old, White Men

Christians gather to celebrate Palm Sunday in Kampala, Uganda.

The common perception among many in North America, especially among those who are not exactly fond of religion, is that Christianity is a religion for old, white men. It is seen as a closed-club for people of power, and in our part of the world that generally is understood to be people who are the opposite of minorities. It is sad to say that many reject Christianity for this simple reason. They believe it is not for them, and that it in fact is a scourge because it only further entrenches people of power into their places of privilege. Christianity is for:

  • Men, not women
  • Older, not younger
  • Whites, not minorities
  • Wealthy, not poor

All of this is interesting, except that it is flat-out wrong.

The facts show that Christianity is the most diverse religion in the world. Unlike most other major religions which are still primarily centralized in their places of origin, Christianity has spread to every corner of the globe.

The Christian Church began in the middle East where Christ was crucified and rose from the dead. From there it spread to Europe and North Africa, later to North and South America, and currently is growing rapidly in Africa and Asia. The Pew Research Centre has some good data (albeit a few years old) on the distribution of Chistians across the world.

In addition, women are also more likely to be people of faith than men are on both a North American and global scale. The average church in the United States sees an average of 61% attendance from females, with just 39% from males.

If I were to ask you to close your eyes and picture a Christian, most people would see a middle-class white man. But the reality is that the average Christian in the world is lower-class, non-white, and female. Our perspective is all messed up!

A big-picture overview of Christianity will show that it spreads to a new region as a grass-roots movement among the lower class, over time gains footing and becomes well-established, and later begins to disintegrate and shift to another area. This is because Christianity isn’t meant to be forced onto people. It is not a political view like Socialism or Communism. Rather it is a spiritual experience and worldview that emanates from the heart. Whenever Christianity gets into bed with power, it is only a matter of time before things collapse.

This is exactly what we see happening in the United States right now, and what has been witnessed in Europe over the last 50 years. The increase of secularism has come while Christianity was at peak political power. It should be no surprise. This very thing has occurred over and over again throughout history and will continue to do so. When Christianity is forced onto people from the top-down, it is not really received or believed by people, but rather it is imposed on them. But Christianity cannot live where it is imposed onto people. The admonition from Christ to “love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “love your neighbour as yourself”, while putting ones faith in Jesus the Son of God….well, these are all personal choices that an individual has to make. They cannot be done for you. And so as soon as Christianity becomes an established power that others must submit to against their free will choice, the magic is gone.

Here’s the truth: Christianity is for anyone and everyone because Jesus is for anyone and everyone. The Christian Church has an open door policy because Jesus has an open door policy. He calls out, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest”. There is no qualification to meet for this request—no gender, race, age, or economic status—just simply the personal responsibility to respond.

That’s what Christianity is all about. It is a personal response to God’s love. God is a Father who opens his doors to anyone who wishes to enter. If one chooses to remain out, so be it. But no one is excluded up front. Christianity is not some old-boys club for power-hungry white guys. It is an invitation to a party that God is throwing, and anyone who wants to join in may do so.

One of the most powerful testaments to the truth of Christianity is it’s longevity, adaptability, and diversity. It does not require great wealth to thrive. It does not require a certain kind of culture to thrive. It just thrives simply because it is a move of God. Many Christians are panicking because Christianity is dying in the West, and that scares them because they live in a “Christian nation”. Except that there is no such thing as a Christian nation, only Christian people. Christianity will die off in one area but spring to life in another, because it is not a culture. It is not a white mans club. It is not only for the rich. It is not only for men. It is not only for Americans. It is for all and always has been and always will be.

If you are someone who thinks of Christians in narrow terms—white, middle class men—then you have a very narrow understanding of Christianity. You need to realize there is much more happening than what you see. The good news of Christ has spread, and will continue to spread, all over the world to every people group. If you think Christianity is dying because of what you see in America, you must remember the promise of Christ: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Jesus will build his church. It is a guarantee. And the best part is that it is open to all.

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