Monday, March 24, 2008

Good News, Bad News About Unchurched Americans

Before moving to Houston this fall I had an eight year stretch of living and ministering in Phoenix, Arizona. One of the most challenging aspects about my experience there was learning and adjusting to the culture. It was a steep learning curve because it was so different than anything I had ever experienced before growing up and serving in ministry in the “Bible Belt”. However, I soon came to have such a deep love for the “western” culture. Though it was challenging to learn how to do ministry totally different, it became so refreshing. People had such a different frame of reference, a different set of questions, and an openness to spiritual conversations without having a lot of church baggage to trip over.

My time in Arizona has made me a better person, Christ follower, and church practitioner. This experience also causes me to have great interest in and positive affirmation for the article Unchurched Americans Turned Off By Church, Open To Christians, LifeWay Study Says. I think the article’s content and the findings of this study can help make us and our churches more impactful as well. Explore this article and consider how you can better focus or posture your life and ministry toward engaging and reaching unchurched people in your community.

For me it says we need to make our churches more inviting and user-friendly for the unchurched and we need to better capitalize upon the relationships that already exist between those in our churches and the unchurched. Our ministries need to become more relational and interactive rather than programmatic and presentational. And we need to help our church members learn how to better engage the people they already know as well as others in spiritual conversations. I have long thought that our biggest barrier to reaching not-yet-believers was that believers either were too isolated and insulated in their relationships or that they did not know how to effectively engage people in spiritual conversations. Just think what might happen if your church became known as a place where people of all kinds were made comfortable and your church members became confident and competent in engaging people in your community in relational spiritual conversations. It’s not a program but a process and it could happen!

Until next time…share the journey and enjoy the ride!

Pat


Unchurched Americans Turned Off By Church, Open To Christians, LifeWay Study Says
Written by Mark Kelly

A majority of unchurched Americans are turned off by the institutional church and don’t have a biblical understanding about God and Jesus, yet they believe Jesus makes a positive difference in a person’s life and would enjoy an honest discussion with a friend about spiritual matters.

Those are just a few of the findings from a new study of unchurched Americans conducted by LifeWay Research in partnership with the North American Mission Board’s Center for Missional Research. LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources, and the North American Mission Board are both entities of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The results of the study, which polled 1,402 adults who had not attended a religious service at a church, synagogue or mosque in the previous six months, are available at LifeWayResearch.com.The findings have important implications for Christian churches and individuals who want to effectively reach unchurched people with the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ, said LifeWay Research director Ed Stetzer.

Read this entire article @ http://lifeway.com/lwc/article_main_page/0%2C1703%2CA%25253D166950%252526M%25253D200906%2C00.html?