How to Identify a Christian Hero Image
How to Identify a Christian Hero Image
Apr 4, 2012 / 5 min

How to Identify a Christian

Kevin McConaghy

When driving home recently, I heard a story on the radio about a nonprofit organization called United in Purpose. UIP was created to get more Christians to register to vote. To accomplish this, they have to be able to identify: a) everyone who is not registered to vote, and b) which of those unregistered voters are Christians. The first part is fairly simple, since you can get voter registration lists, and deduce that anyone not on the list is not registered. It is the second part—identifying which people are Christians—that presents an interesting problem.

UIP has tackled that problem through data mining. You cannot buy a mailing list of all Christians in the country, but you can get mailing lists for many other things—lists of people with kids, for instance, or people who have donated money to certain causes, or who subscribe to certain publications. The data miners looked for things that might correlate with being a Christian—supporting a pro-life charity, for instance—and literally came up with a point system to determine who was a Christian. According to the NPR story, you might get awarded points for home-schooling your kids, supporting traditional marriage, or if you enjoy fishing or NASCAR. (Seriously…NASCAR?) They then add up your points, and, “If [your score] totaled over 600 points, then we realized you were very serious about your faith.”

This brings up all sorts of interesting questions, such as: which NASCAR driver should I root for? If I am really serious about my faith, should I be fly fishing or noodling?

It kind of makes me wonder how I would rate on their point system. The story does not go into any more detail about what items are worth points, or how many points each item is worth. But, it is not too difficult to come up with our own point system, based on things that are culturally associated with being a Christian. For example, here are the points you can add to your score if you…

  • Went to a Bible college: +100

  • Went to seminary: +250

  • Went to Baylor: +20

  • Went to A&M: +5

  • Went to Texas: -5

  • Carry a Bible with your name written on it or in it: +10

    • And it looks like this: +15
    • Or have it as an iPhone app: +10
    • And have parts of it memorized: +10
    • Or written on your eye black during football games: +Number 15
  • Know how to correctly spell “Metaxas”: +15

    • And “Lecrae”: +15
    • And “lama sabachthani”: +20
    • And can pronounce them correctly: +25
  • Have Christian radio presets in your car: +5 (per station)

    • And a Christian bumper sticker or fish logo: +10
    • And it’s a Suburban: +10
    • And has more than 200,000 miles: +15
  • Wear a cross necklace: +5

    • And you’re a dude: +5
    • Plus a “purity ring”: +10
    • And a WWJD bracelet: +the 90’s
  • Are in a community group, small group, home group, discipleship group, or accountability group: +50

  • Attend church most Sundays: +25

    • And during the week: +50
    • Because you work there: +150
    • And are the one preaching from the pulpit: +250
  • Have ever been on a mission trip:

    • To Central America or the Caribbean: +25
    • To South America: +40
    • To Africa or Asia: +60
    • And stayed there: +175
    • And are considered a saint there: +500
    • Because you were martyred: +10,000
  • Have ever played this game: +30

  • Are currently reading a Christian blog instead of working: +100

And so on. You can find out your score at

OK, so these are intentionally cliché. And no outward appearance or action truly makes you a Christian, any more than dressing up on Halloween makes you Dracula or Satan. But, Christians would hopefully live out their lives in a way that would make them stand out, and make it clear that they are not playing by the world’s rules. But that doesn’t mean wearing a bracelet or sticking an Ichthys on your stock car. The Bible actually states quite clearly, and quite simply, how people should be able to identify a Christian. In John 13:34-35, Jesus Himself spells it out:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”


Why do I get the feeling that we are somehow missing this? Is this how non-believers look at Christians when they are deciding not to believe? Do people say, “Well, I would consider this Jesus fellow, but I just can’t stand the way that His followers are so dang loving?”

Yes, love does sometimes mean speaking truth, which can cause problems with people who do not love the truth. But the Bible also talks about “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Which means there is more than one way to speak the truth; we are to do so “in love”.

Hey, I am just as prone to focus on appearances as anybody. But appearances, like a Halloween costume, can be a lie. It is our actions that truly define us; let those actions be defined by love.

  • Kevin