St. Arbucks Chapel- May 26, 2021
From our District Superintendent, the Rev Dr Mitch Reece
As Covid subsides the church is finding itself in a changed world. Pastor’s and congregations can be tempted to ponder how to return to a pre-Covid church, but it has become apparent there is no going back but only moving forward.
One of the important questions the church is faced with is how to reach the unchurched with the good news of Christ. Recently Gallop published an article stating that the majority of Americans who are members of a church has dropped below 50% for the first time since they began reporting. In 2017, a Lifeway article titled “Who are the Unchurched and How to Reach Them” by Scott McConnell shares that it is helpful when dealing with these questions to divide the unchurched into three subgroups: nominal Christians, other religions, and nones.
Nominal Christians make up more than half of the unchurched. They are those who are questioning their faith, are currently not practicing, are not particularly devout, or are part of a group that says they possess a strong faith but don’t need church. Interestingly, only 28% of this group would acknowledge a belief that they will experience an afterlife in heaven as a result of placing their faith in Jesus Christ. The other two subgroups: other religions – those outside Christian orthodoxy, and nones – those who have no religious affiliation or background, are seen as more difficult for the church to reach while noting that nominal Christians are those the church is most equipped to reach. The reason for this is that nominal Christians see themselves as Christian, yet at the same time they may be more difficult to convince regarding the importance of a growing relationship with Christ. When working to reach out to nominal Christians the following suggestions are made:
- Look at your own church list. Who are those who have not attended worship or church events in the last year. Reach out to them and see if they are attending somewhere else or have just become disengaged.
- Have Compassion. Pray for these individuals and look for ways to show them love and care.
- Invite these persons to worship and to Bible studies for the curious. Almost half of those polled indicated they would likely attend worship if someone they knew invited them and more than a third would attend a small group structured around people curious about God. It should be noted that these individuals are the most open to being invited and particularly to participate in events that affect their communities, Neighborhood safety events, and community service projects.
- Talk about your faith when you are with them. These persons are likely to agree that there is an “ultimate purpose and plan for every person’s life” and that a major priority in their life is finding deeper purpose. Most of these persons are open to spiritual things and do not mind their friends talking with them about their faith.
The bottom line is that that the key to reaching persons for Christ is first and foremost a matter of relationship. May we all look for ways to connect with persons outside the walls of our congregations in order to share the good news and love of Christ.
To access the full article, go to: https://lifewayresearch.com/2017/04/04/who-are-the-unchurched-and-how-to-reach-them/