Religion in America:
A Pew Research Center survey reveals that the United States is de-Christianizing at an accelerated rate. Their research found that 71% of Americans identified as Christian in 2014 - down from 78% in 2007. In the same period, Americans identifying as having no religion grew from 16% to 23%.
Fifty-six million Americans do not observe any religion, the second largest community after Evangelicals.
Whereas 86% of Americans in 1990 identified as Christians, by 2007, that was down to 78%. Today only 7 in 10 say they are Christians. But the percentage of those describing themselves as atheists, agnostics or nonbelievers has risen to 23%. That exceeds the Catholic population and is only slightly below evangelicals.
Those in the mainline Protestant churches — Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians — have plummeted from 50% of the U.S. population in 1958 to 14% today. By accommodating the social revolution of the 1960s to stay relevant, mainline churches appear to have made themselves irrelevant to America's young.
The decline in Christian identity is greatest among the young. While 85% of Americans born before 1945 still call themselves Christians, only 57% of those born after 1980 do.
The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.
The following are some of the growth rates for major religious organizations from the year 2000 to the year 2010:
•Mormons: Plus 45.5%.
•Evangelical Protestants: Plus 1.7% (far behind the overall rate of population growth).
•Catholics: Minus 5.0%.
•Mainline Protestants: Minus 12.8% (an astounding decline)
•Islam: Plus 66.7% in the U.S.
Christians who call themselves evangelicals account for just 7% of Americans.
Growth of Islam:
ISLAM is the world's second largest religion with a following of over one billion people. In 1907, there were 230 million Muslims in the world, by 1990 there were close to 800 million. Just 20 years later, there are nearly 1.6 billion Muslims. Islam has doubled in the last twenty years.
There are estimated to be 3 to 7, million, to as many as 12 million Muslims in America and the numbers are growing. Some are predicting that Islam will more than double in the U.S. by 2030. Since 9/11 there has been a dramatic growth in Islam in America with the immigration from Islamic countries, with a 66.7% increase. In the United States Islam is the fastest growing religion.
“While the world’s population is projected to grow 35% in the coming decades, the number of Muslims is expected to increase by 73% – from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.8 billion in 2050. In 2010, Muslims made up 23.2% of the global population. Four decades later, they are expected to make up about three-in-ten of the world’s people (29.7%).billion in 2010 to 2.8 billion in 2050. In 2010, Muslims made up 23.2% of the global population. Four decades later, they are expected to make up about three-in-ten of the world’s people (29.7%). By 2050, Muslims will be nearly as numerous as Christians, who are projected to remain the world’s largest religious group at 31.4% of the global population.”
So Christians, Islam is our mission field!
Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
We need a new vision of world missions based on the Word of God, coupled with a realistic description of our times. We are living in a new era of world history. Muslims represent the largest group of unreached people on earth. Over 32,000 die without the Gospel every day. Not only does Islam enslave over a billion who have never heard the Gospel, more and more traditionally Christian nations are seeing a sharp increase in the number of Muslims living around them. Mosques are now becoming common even in European and American cities. Islam is the best biggest challenge for the church today both on the mission field and in your local neighborhood.
The History of Islam:
In the seventh century, Muhammad claimed the angel Gabriel visited him. During these angelic visitations, which continued for about 23 years until Muhammad's death, the angel purportedly revealed to Muhammad the words of Allah (the Arabic word for “God” used by Muslims). These dictated revelations compose the Qur'an, Islam's holy book. Islam means “submission,” deriving from a root word that means “peace.” The word Muslim means “one who submits to Allah.”
What do Muslims believe?
The word “Islam” means “submission to God.”
Seven Articles of Faith (Some list only six articles)
Belief in one God, who in Arabic is named “Allah.” The most important teaching of Islam is that only God is to be served and worshipped.
Belief in angels, good and bad.
Belief in the Prophets of God. These prophets start with Adam and include Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them. The main message of all the prophets has always been that there is only One true God and He alone is worthy of being supplicated to and worshipped.
Belief in the revealed books of God. Muslims believe the Quran is God’s final revelation revealed to Prophet Muhammad and has been fully preserved.
Belief in a day of judgment. According to Islamic teachings, those who believe in God and perform good deeds will be eternally rewarded in Heaven. Those who reject faith in God will be eternally punished in the fire of Hell.
Belief in Divine Decree. Everything in the entire universe and beyond was predetermined by Allah.
Belief in the Resurrection. The Resurrection is when all things will again come to life. On this day all will be called to account for their good and bad deeds.
The Five pillars of Islam: In Islam, worship is part of daily life and is not limited to mere rituals. The formal acts of worship are known as the Five Pillars of Islam.
Declaration of Faith: The "Declaration of Faith" is the statement, “There is no deity worthy of being worshiped except God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God).
Daily Prayer: Prayer is a method by which a Muslim connects to God and gathers spiritual strength and peace of mind. Muslims perform five formal prayers a day.
Charity. Muslims recognize that all wealth is a blessing from Allah, and certain responsibilities are required in return. In Islam, it is the duty of the wealthy to help the poor and needy.
The Fast of Ramadan: Once each year, Muslims are commanded to fast for an entire month from dawn to sunset.
The Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca: Every Muslim strives to make once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to the sacred sites in Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia.
What do Muslims believe about Jesus Christ? Muslims claim that Jesus was one of the most important prophets, and that He was virgin born and that He was a great prophet, but that He is only a man. That He was sent by Allah to help people obey God. The Quran refers to Jesus as the breath of God, the spirit of God, the life of God and the word of God. Muslims do not think Jesus died on the cross. They believe that right before he was to be killed, God took him up to heaven and someone else (probably Judas) replaced him on the cross. They trust that Jesus will return to the earth again to usher in the final judgment from God and confirm that Islam is the true and final religion for all mankind.
Witnessing to Muslims:
You don’t have to go to the Middle East to witness to a Muslim! They are in our cities. We see them at the market and drug store. They live in our neighborhoods. We pass them on the freeway on the way to church! With a reported three to seven million Muslim’s in America, even the smallest communities will be populated by Muslims. And they need Christ!
“It is generally perceived that Muslim’s are hard to reach because they are so entrenched in their religion. Family and societal pressures continually are forced upon them to remain in the faith. For them conversion to Christianity could be a life-threatening prospect. However, we need to remember that in God’s eyes there is no difference between Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, Jehovah’s Witness, Roman Catholic, Scientologist, Atheist, or any other non-Christian religion. They are all sinners in need of a Savior. The devotees to each of them are trapped within a religious or philosophical system through which they cannot deal with their sinful condition, and they all, therefore, stand condemned before God.”–Edited and adapted from Colin Smith, aomin.org.
Never forget that God is sovereign, and that nothing is too hard for God!
Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”
And never forget that salvation from start to finish is of the Lord.
Jonah 2:9, "Salvation is of the Lord.”
Psalm 3:8, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”
Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…”
Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
God’s Word will not fail. It is the power of God!
“Culturally, hospitality is of notable importance to most Muslims. To effectively witness to Muslims, building a relationship through shared experiences is of great significance. Inviting a person or family for a meal in your home, participating in a school study group, or celebrating a birthday together can make a tremendous impact in opening opportunities to share your faith.” –compellingtruth.org.
Theologically, both Muslims and Christians are monotheistic (belief in one God). While Allah is defined differently in the Qur'an than in the Bible, building on the idea of one Creator of all things can be helpful in communicating the gospel message to Muslims.
Do they believe in Christ? The Quran bears witness to Jesus Christ! It affirms His virgin birth, His ability to heal and raise the dead, that He is both a word from God and a spirit from God, that He is the Messiah, and righteous. He is alive in heaven now and will return to judge the earth Muslims often are convinced that Christ is greater than Muhammad from just reading the Quran. These above points are excellent starting places in leading Muslims to biblical truth about Jesus. But the Quran denies His deity and His death on the cross.
“The fact is that most Muslims in America are open to talking about their religion, and willing to engage us regarding Christianity, if only we show them respect and true friendship. Just as we would resent those who would demean our religion, so they resent those who approach them with an attitude of superiority or condemnation. Love opens the door to dialogue and understanding. But how should we present Christ to them? Muslims have a high regard for Jesus; they honor Him as one of the greatest prophets. But when we tell them that Jesus was the “Son of God,” they think this means that God had a sexual relationship with Mary. Thus they scorn the doctrine of the Sonship of Jesus.”–Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, moodymedia.org
Because Muslims appear different from us, witnessing to Muslims requires us to confront and overcome our own cultural and ethnic prejudices: Inside every Muslim who dresses and looks different from us is a lost soul that needs to hear the true Gospel Even terrorists who kill Christians are no worse than the Apostle Paul until Christ confronted him on the set Damascus Road, so we should also view every Muslim as a potential future Paul to more Muslims.
We need to understand the Muslim prejudices against us. While Satan has used and continues to use Muslims to attack Christians Muslims are taught that it was Christian’s who committed atrocities against Muslims, including the crusades and the Western colonial rule.
When the opportunity arises, plundering and other atrocities having taken place during the crusades and Western colonial rule should be acknowledged. But it should also be made very clear that the perpetrators of those atrocities, while they may have claimed to be Christians, were acting against both the words and the example set by and were not true, born-again Christians. Unlike the crusaders and the colonial powers, Jesus always preached and demonstrated non-violence, even when He was threatened.
They have had drilled into them since birth that the Bible had been hopelessly perverted, that Jesus was not crucified and or raised from the dead. They have been taught that the teaching of the trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is polytheism, is a belief in more than one God. They are also taught that their sins are forgiven by the declaration of God when they submit to His ways (as taught in the Quran). When you take the standard salvation message to those who have accepted such teachings considering their rejection of the Bible, of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and of Christianity as a false religion, it makes it very difficult to begin any conversation about spiritual things. However, there are ways that true believers can certainly be a witness. –Edited and adapted from David Reagan, learnthebible.org
Muslim’s need to understand that they are not condemned because they are Muslims, but because, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
When you have an opportunity to witness to a Muslim, do not soft-pedal the Word of God. They are not the least bit shy about the Qur'an. But the Qur’an does not have “good news,” for them! There is no Gospel in Islam. The Qur’an rejects the trinity, the deity of Christ, His death and resurrection and justification by faith. Our goal is to convince them that the Scriptures are not corrupt as they claim them to be. We try to open their minds to the possibility that there is something better!
Ask them, “Are you certain that you are saved?” “If you were to die are you certain you will go to heaven?” Then give them a simple presentation of the gospel. Do not try to argue the Bible versus the Qur’an! Avoid the use of ”Christianeze.” Plain English is the best! Do not be hesitant to use Jesus’ titles, “Son of God,” “Lamb of God,” “I Am,” and “Almighty God.”
Your job isn’t to criticize or condemn Islam but to give a clear witness to the truth of the Gospel. Instead of letting them drag you into the topic, turn the tables and ask them questions. Let them articulate their own understandings of the religious themes you are discussing; let what you communicate be the plain truth of Christian doctrines without enumerating how Islam is wrong.
Pray, pray, pray, pray! Only God can break through their resistance, you cannot! Ask God to keep you calm, loving, caring and determined to share the love of Christ with a lost soul! The message of the Gospel offends Muslims. That’s okay! Don’t worry! God will take care of the hearer. It is His message. Muslims will not convert to Christ if they are not offended by the message of the Gospel. Offend them by being very clear about the teachings of Christ!
Muslims will respect the Bible, but not your personal opinion. Trust in the Holy Spirit working through the Word! It will not help Muslims to hear your personal opinion on biblical issues. So, don’t say “I think,” or “it seems to me” or “I feel like…” Muslims interpret your thoughts, your take on things or your feelings as part of the corruption of the Bible.
Don't rush things with Muslims. Just because a Muslim is not ready to trust in Christ after one encounter does not mean that effective evangelism has not taken place. Pre-evangelism is equally vital. You may plant, but someone else may have to water! Always remember that it is not us who convert the Muslims to Christ but God Himself (in His time)! Copied in part and adapted.
Here’s the complete post entitled from Salaam Corniche, –CRCNA.ORG, received from an ex-Muslim brother who lives and works and ministers in a Muslim-majority country to share his advice to you. The document is exactly as he wrote it with no editing.”
How to Evangelize a Muslim
The testimony of the Gospels provides the most reliable witness to Christ. Preach the Gospel as it is! Do not soft-pedal around biblical terminology to please Muslim hearers. Be clear about what you believe and why you believe it. Know the Scriptures well, and know the confessions and what exactly you believe (catechisms). The more you know about your faith, the easier it is to talk with Muslims.
There is no gospel in Islam. The Qur'an clearly contradicts the essence of biblical Christianity and rejects the triune nature of God, disfigures the biblical doctrines of the person of Christ and denies justification through faith on account of the work of Christ on the cross. While claiming to be the perpetual religion of nature and history, following in the footsteps of Christianity, it attempts to justify its claims by asserting that the Word of God, revealed in the New and Old Testament, is corrupted. Our apologetic discussion with Muslims should be to defend the Scriptures and prove that the Scriptures aren’t corrupt as Muslims claim. Our goal is to open up their minds a bit so that they can start reading the Gospels for an eyewitness or a companion of an eyewitness to the real Jesus.
Always ask them the classic evangelistic questions. ‘What about your salvation?’ ‘Can you be certain of this?’ ‘If you were to die, can you be certain you'd enter heaven at some point?’ Their response is always, "No, I couldn't be certain, nor do I care.”
Most western missionaries are result oriented; instead you should be concerned about preaching the Gospel correctly (as it is). The essence of Muslim evangelism is accurate communication about sin and grace: simply and clearly. Talk about the law and the gospel, not about infralapsarianism and divine simplicity! Don’t compare the Bible with the Quran. That comes later!
Always remember that you are talking to Muslims. Avoid the use of Christian jargon. Speak about real sin, real guilt, real shed blood! Do not be ashamed to use Jesus’ direct and indirect titles clearly such as ‘Son of God’ ‘Lamb of God’ ‘New Adam’ ‘I AM - YAHWEH’ ‘Savior’ ‘Almighty God’.
Use tact and be charitable! Don't talk about reprobation with a Muslim or a new convert who has just lost an unbelieving family member. Be kind and courteous! Many Muslims act and speak out of ignorance, not malice.
Be sensitive to their past - if they've had a bad experience with Christians, missionaries or churches, struggled with a particular sin etc., be understanding and compassionate! Muslims hate self-righteousness, and rightly so! Do not soft-pedal the law and the guilt of sin, but make sure they understand that you are a justified sinner, not a self-righteous "know it all" who is here to correct them!
Muslims will ask you many questions about your faith. Don’t feel like you have to answer all of their questions in one day. However, make sure they hear your answers to one or two questions clearly. Stick with the subject - don't get sidetracked. When the conversation wanders, pull it back to center stage - the law and the gospel.
Muslims will ask you to comment on their faith. Don’t go there; they will not benefit from your criticism (or feigned approval) of other religions. Your job isn’t to debunk Islam but to give a clear witness to the truth of the Gospel. Instead of letting them drag you into the topic, turn the tables and ask them questions. Let them articulate their own understandings of the religious themes you are discussing; let what you communicate be the plain truth of Christian doctrines without enumerating how Islam is wrong.
The message of the Gospel offends Muslims. It is okay! Don’t worry! God will take care of the hearer. It is His message. Muslims will not convert to Christ if they are not offended by the message of the Gospel. Offend them by being very clear about the teachings of Christ!
Do not use any ‘Muslim friendly’ bible translations. ‘Muslims friendly’ bible translations are very deceptive! They are not true to the original Scriptures. Muslims see it as a form of deception by missionaries!
Muslim evangelism is not about winning an argument, but leading Muslims to Christ with the Gospel. Discussions may get heated and intense at times - that's okay. But the purpose of Muslim evangelism is not to show why you are right and Islam is wrong. It is to communicate the truth of the gospel! The message is to be the offence! Not you!
When Muslims are apathetic about sin - use the law. When Muslims have doubts or are skeptical - use basic apologetic arguments. When Muslims express guilt for sin - present the Gospel.
Evangelism is about leading Muslims to Christ. Convincing non-Christians or Evangelicals that Reformed theology is true, falls under the heading of polemics. Don't confuse the two.
When talking to Muslims stick with what all Christians hold in common wherever possible. Leave the internecine fighting among Christians aside when talking to Muslims. A Muslim will not care so much about differences between the Catholics and the Protestants or Lutherans and Baptists. Issues such as the exact meaning of the Lord’s Supper or methods of baptism should be addressed later, during discipleship!
Wherever possible, when talking to Muslims speak about Christianity as factually true - "Jesus did this," "Jesus said this," "people heard and saw him," etc. Keep away from the subjective line of approach-- "it works for me," "this is how I feel about it," this is my testimony."
Before meeting with your Muslim friends pray for wisdom.
Muslims will respect the text you quote, but not your personal opinion. Trust in the power of God the Holy Spirit working through the word! Cite texts directly from the Scriptures with attribution. Jesus says, Paul says.... It will not help Muslims to hear your personal opinion on biblical issues. So, don’t say "I think," or "it seems to me" or "I feel like…" Muslims interpret your thoughts, your take on things or your feelings as part of the corruption of the Bible.
Don't rush things with Muslims. Just because a Muslim is not ready to trust in Christ after one encounter does not mean that effective evangelism has not taken place. Pre-evangelism is equally vital. You may plant, but someone else may have to water! Always remember that it is not us who convert the Muslims to Christ but God Himself (in His time)!
Remember that evangelism isn’t complete after you first present the Gospel message to a Muslim. Evangelism has to continue even after they repent and give their lives to Christ. They have to sit under the ministry of the Word. Evangelism of a Muslim is complete only after they are baptized, brought to the Lord’s Supper and sat under the preaching of the Word at church. In other words, evangelism never ends. Discipleship is evangelism.
Treat Muslims as objects of concern, not notches in your belt! Establish relationships and friendships with Muslims whenever and wherever possible.
Don't forget that a prophet is without honor in his own home. The chances of Muslim converts leading their own unbelieving family members (or someone close to them) to Christ by themselves is remote. Encourage them as they give witness to what they have learned, but also pray for God to bring other people into the picture to help evangelize their families.
Don't force things. If your Muslim friends balk, ridicule and otherwise are not interested, back off. Find another time and place. If after repeated attempts to communicate the gospel, and someone still shows an unwillingness to hear what you have to say, "shake the dust off your feet and move on to a new town!"
Be willing to get your Muslim friends the resources they need: be willing to provide them with a Bible (not just a New Testament), the right book to read, and certainly an invitation to your home and later an invitation to attend your church or to a Bible study, etc. Never ever use a Muslim friendly bible translation. These translations are a product of some western mission agencies without any support from the national churches who know their context best.
Pray for opportunities to evangelize Muslims. Make sure to let your Muslim friends know that you regularly attend a church. Do not disconnect your evangelism effort from the church. Pray for your church - that God would bless the preaching of his word, that he would bring Muslims into our midst, and that he would bless the church with growth.
You don't have to become a practical Arminian to be a faithful evangelist! A Christian approach to Muslim evangelism simply means telling Muslims the truth in love without changing it. Trust that God the Holy Spirit will penetrate hearts and minds of Muslims with “the Gospel”
Muslims love to sing Islamic hymns that tell the stories of the Quran. Islamic hymn singing is singing the words of the Quran. Show your Muslim friends some samples of Christian biblical songs with verses directly taken from Scriptures. In other words, sing the Bible to them! The role of music in human culture is to join people together. Biblically we are commanded to sing the praises of Christ. There are 694 references to singing or music making in Holy Scriptures. Participatory singing is a very significant matter biblically. There will be no singing in Hell, but the saints in Heaven will sing everlastingly. That is really amazing and remarkable! Let us show Muslims what we will be doing in Heaven.”
“Fear God and give Him Glory, because the hour of His judgment has come, and Worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Rev. 14:7)
With thanks to our brother "F.B." living in__________.
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB).