The Few, The Perplexed

Michael Metzger

The Marine Corps has a recruiting tagline: “The Few, The Proud.” An exile’s tagline is similar: The Few, The Perplexed.

There are 330 million Americans. Only 186,000 are Marines (active duty). Another 38,500 are in the reserve. That’s why the Marine Corps is The Few, The Proud. I’m proud of ‘em.

I’m just as proud of exiles. They’re Christians who intuitively “get it”—the faith is an outsider, an exile. They feel it at work, at school. They feel it at church. But why are they “The Few?” Do some back-of-the-envelope calculations. Start with Evangelical Protestants. Out of 330 million Americans, Evangelical Protestants are 25 percent of the population. Scribble this number on an envelope: 81 million.

According to Barna research, only about seven percent of this population is active. 81,000,000 x .07 = 5,670,000. Only 5.67 million Evangelical Protestants practice their faith diligently.

Most exiles do. But they’re also intuitive. They get it—the faith is an outsider. According to Personality Hacker and Myers-Briggs studies, intuitive people make up about 25 percent of any given population. So, 5,670,000 Evangelical Protestants x .25 = 1,400,000 intuitive exiles.

But only a few intuitive exiles are difference makers. No more than 10 percent of any given population are influencers. 1,400,000 exiles x .10 = 140,000 influential exiles. The Few.

But exiles are also perplexed. The Apostle Paul often felt perplexed (II Cor.4:8). It means to “be at a loss.” He was at a loss to understand why the church in Corinth didn’t do anything a man sleeping with his stepmother (I Cor.5:1). Like the Marines, Paul had a bias for action. Influential exiles have a bias for action. Most don’t “get” why their church doesn’t recognize exile (or doesn’t seem to be doing much about it). More calculations tell us why.

There are about 340,000 Evangelical Protestant churches in the US. 140,000 influential exiles ÷ 340,000 = .41 exiles per church. That’s too few to keep exile on a church’s front burner.

That’s why influential exiles feel isolated. I recently asked one (a millennial I’ve worked with for years) to describe how I’ve helped him. Pat summarized it in three words: I’m not crazy. Exiles like Pat look around and ask: Am I nuts? Am I the only one who sees exile? Am I crazy?

Nope. Exiles are the New Diaspora. Dispersed. Disconnected. But they do get it. What, then, can be done to help them? In three words: Start from scratch.

“If one is serious about changing the world,” writes James Hunter, “the first step is to discard the prevailing view of culture and cultural change and start from scratch.”[1] Start from scratch means to begin at the beginning, or renew. The Greek renew is where we get the Latin innovatus, our word innovate. Starting from scratch means beginning with innovators.

More back-of-the-envelope calculations. Innovators represent 2.5 percent of any given population.[2] 140,000 influential exiles x .025 = 3,500 innovative influential exiles. These leaders are most likely to launch movements that bring the faith out of exile. Just a few, 3,500.

You can quibble with my calculations, but this approach is not unprecedented. Gideon felt he needed an army of 32,000 to defeat the Midianites (Judges 7). He didn’t. God whittled Gideon’s army down to 300 warriors. Only a small minority were prepared to do battle.

Only “a creative minority” is required to change the world in significant ways, wrote British historian Arnold Toynbee. The Clapham Sect (c.1780-1833) was a creative minority. Next week, I’ll describe how we’re working to resource creative minorities. If you’re an exile—one of The Few, The Perplexed—we’re going to be recruiting you in the near future.

Until then, check out the latest Clapham podcast here:


[1] James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, (Oxford University Press), 27.

[2] Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations (Simon and Schuster: 2003)


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  1. Imagine being an almost 70 year old female exile. .. … .. now that I am older, I know I am not crazy. That’s about it. I appreciate this. Love from an outlier, disrupter and exile.

  2. Yes, Kathy. Reading Mike made me think of you, and of the early days at WCF. I’m wondering, Mike, how one can start from scratch when the church that did is now in middle age with the founding generation long gone and the current leadership generation comfortably “feeding the beast” (keeping the program going). Where do we find the “outsiders” and “disrupters” like Kathy who can help us see we are in exile?

  3. You’d have to go beyond Kathy. Good woman and leader, but somewhat compromised at WCF (too much an insider). The only way it’d work is if WCF leadership gave her full authority to start from scratch. And… she’d have to know what it meant by starting from scratch.

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