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Predict the Future with Heinrich’s Triangle


London, England Credit: Nick Kenrick/Flickr/Creative Commons

London, England Credit: Nick Kenrick/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is Christianity dying? In the future, will the religion of Jesus even exist? Well, yes and no. One critical writer did an excellent job of explaining why Christianity is dying in the USA.

Many years ago I led a church planting effort in a small town. Every Sunday morning I would get up early, walk to the bus depot, and ride about 100 miles to a small town. Our lowest attendance was two other people, and two cats.

The church is not dying...

The church is not dying. It is changing and adapting…

That happened many times, but eventually the group grew until a resident pastor could move in. But I am sorry to say, after a few years, in that very small town, the decision was made to close the church down. Imagine; all that effort for nothing!

Herbert William Heinrich is one of the great pioneers of workplace safety, and many of his ideas were expressed with number ratios. He could predict your future with the numbers in his triangle ratio 300-29-1. Mr Heinrich was concerned about your chances of avoiding injury or death in the near future, his focus was negative.

It works like this: if you are a careless person, you might have 300 incidents and near misses with no damage; 29 incidents with minor damage; and you might die once. His exact numbers are not considered reliable today, but his idea is correct.

The many small things that we do will produce a few bigger things, and one really serious issue.

We can make this negative, like if you are a careless driver, you will escape from accidents most of the time, and have some minor fender scrapes, but some day you will have the big one and someone might die, maybe you.

This can also be positive; try many times and find success a few times, like a salesman who makes many calls and finally gets a big sale. Hard work has its rewards.

If Heinrich’s triangle principle is true, then you can know your future. Take a good look at the many small things in your life, and know the big thing that is coming. To avoid the one big, and deadly accident, avoid the 300 minor issues where no-one gets hurt. Break the pattern early.

And if you want to create success, turn the triangle upside down and fail many times. People look at learning experiences as failures, but they lead us to success. Practice and learn, without success, and real success will happen. 300 strike outs; 29 base runs; 1 home run.

So is Christianity dying? Yes. I believe may of the large churches in my area will be gone in a few decades, or they will be petrified internally and we will wish they were gone. Yes Christianity is a dying religion, with some exceptions.

Is Christianity growing and does it have a future? I looked around my area for the answer and I found three answers; in strip malls.

There is a small shop near my home with a sign “Jesus is Lord!” I think the members are Haitian or French speaking Africans. They recently changed the name on their sign, as they cycle through their 300 learning experiences, but they are still with us.

I found two other groups in one day, without trying very hard “The Church of Pentecost” and “Christ’s Church”. Little groups like these are everywhere, not counting the destructive cult groups.

Some of these groups will close down, or fail, as some critics see failure. In my experience the lost members will easily re-cycle and join other groups, or start more new churches. By now they are experts at starting and building. Also, I am sure that large established churches can learn this truth. They don’t have to petrify.

So does the faith of Jesus have a future where you live? Yes, if you give it one. Just turn Heinrich’s triangle upside down. Solomon knew this truth when he built the temple in Jerusalem: “And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods” (1 Kings 5:5) and that temple continued for centuries.

And we are here today because a lawyer failed in his career and became a Christian preacher. Paul was a builder and we live in the structure that he built:

So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. In this way, I have aspired to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. (Romans 15: 19 and 20)

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