Let’s Clear Up the Stat: “What Happens When a Man Accepts Christ First”
For more than a decade a bogus stat has circulated that compares the percentage of entire families that come to Christ based on who in the family converted first—father, mother, or a child.
The most common form is, “If a child is the first person in the family to accept Christ and join the church, the rest of the family will do the same only 3.5% of the time. If the mother is the first, that percentage goes to 17%. But if the father is the first to accept Christ and join the church, the rest of his family will follow 93% of the time!”
We have tried in vain to authenticate or corroborate this stat. It’s circular-everyone claims they got it from each other!
Why don’t we clear this up once and for all? The only reliable stat of which I am aware is a statement I personally heard Billy Graham make in a 1987 crusade in Denver, Colorado. I wrote about it in The Man in the Mirror in 1989,
“In a Denver crusade, Dr. Billy Graham spoke about this verse of Scripture (Acts 16:31), indicating that they had learned that in homes in which the father came to faith in Christ first, the entire family came to faith in sixty percent of the cases. When the wife came first, forty to fifty percent of the families all accepted Christ. And in families in which a child came to Christ first, twenty-five percent of them saw their entire family become Christians.”
Patrick Morley, 1997, The Man in the Mirror, “Chapter Eight: Children: How to Avoid Regrets,” Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 113
Hmmm…. I wonder if all this could have started as misquoting what Billy Graham said in 1987, or what I put in print about what he said in 1989?
In any event, this is a stat we can all feel comfortable using.
Yours for changed lives,
Patrick Morley, Ph.D.