Sunday, May 25, 2008

Unchurched Less Likely To Come To Church

The following is an article found in the May 23rd edition of The Illinois Baptist paper. As you are reading this article, see if you are having the same thoughts that I am about this. What seems to be missing from this article?

Unchurched less likely to come to church
Unchurched adults interested in finding a congregation aren't nearly as likely to visit one in person as a church member who is shopping for a new congregation, according to several recent LifeWay Research studies.

Effective evangelism, the researchers say, must begin in relationships between Christians and unbelievers -- beyond church buildings.

A survey of 1,684 adults who had not "attended a religious service in a church, synagogue or mosque, other than for a religious holiday or for a special event such as a wedding or funeral at any time in the past six months" found that only 49 percent would visit in person if they were looking for a church.

By contrast, 83 percent of church switchers in an earlier survey said they made an in-person visit when they "actively searched for a new church."

More than half of unchurched people would follow a recommendation from family, friends, neighbors or colleagues if they were looking for a church, but 24 percent said they didn't really see themselves using any of the usual ways of finding a church.

"The location of our evangelism needs to shift if we want to reach the unchurched and not just move sheep around," said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research. "At LifeWay Research we want to encourage churches to grow through conversion. To do that, they must not rely only on the unchurched visiting our churches. Church switchers are primarily the ones who visit churches. The unchurched stay home."

Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Researchm said many churches use visitation effectively, "but all churches must learn to equip individuals to reach those who have never had contact with the church."

The situation is compounded by the fact that more than half the 1,402 respondents in a 2007 study of unchurched adults said they never wonder whether they would go to heaven if they died, McConnell said.

"Our evangelistic efforts must acknowledge that we no longer live in a culture in which people are simply putting off coming to the church to find truth," McConnell said.

"Many people today either don't believe truth exists or that the church is the place to find it."

"That 'how' of evangelism," Stetzer said, "is in many ways determined by the who, when and where of context. And, we have to learn that culture has changed and is changing. Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ must happen in relationships, not just at church. Each individual believer, not just church staff, must own the responsibility."
Here are the stats that LifeWay Research compiled to the following question...
How often do you wonder, "If I were to die today, would I go to heaven?"

52% said Never
10% said Daily
08% said Weekly
14% said Monthly
13% said Yearly
02% said Not Sure

So herein lies the problem...
If 52% of unchurched people do not even think about heaven, you can be sure they are not thinking about hell either. Why should they take you up on your offer to "invite" them to come to church. They will see it as "Boooorrrrriiiinnngggg!!!!!!!" Telling them your church has great music will not interest them because in their mind, they still have to listen to a boring sermon.
I will agree with one point in this article. The last line that said that "Each individual believer, not just church staff, must own the responsibility." I cringe at the constant point of saying everything has to be in building a "relationship" with people. That sounds too "Rick Warrenish" to me. Too many people thrive on his teachings and think that you must become someone's "friend" before they will listen to you. I'll tell you something...

It is easier to talk to a complete stranger about God than it is to your friends. One of the reasons people do not share their faith with their friends is that they fear "losing" their friends by trying to evangelize them. It only takes a couple of minutes to gain the trust of a stranger.

Let's look at the letter again...
"The unchurched stay home."
Hence, the reason they are called the "unchurched."

"...need to equip..."
Our churches need to do a better job of equipping the saints. Too many people think that all we have to do is invite people to come to church. Instead of inviting them to come to church (which is not biblical evangelism), we should be preaching the gospel to them (Biblical evangelism!). Once they see a need for a Savior, then they will want to come to church. Not because you asked them to come, but because of their own personal desire to worship God and to learn more about Him by getting into the Word of God!

"...more than half..."
more than half the respondents do not even think about heaven or where they will go when they die. Inviting them to church will not give them the information they need. Give them God's Law and let them see how they stand up in God's eyes. When they see that they have offended the living God and that they are destined for hell, then they will be ready to cling to the Savior for eternal life.

Evangelism is something that we should all be doing. Preach the gospel to every person you see. Let God's Word live in all people. Don't pick and choose who "you" think deserves to hear the gospel message. That is not biblical. Go into all the world preaching the gospel to every creature. Now that is biblical!!!

Our churches have become filled with pastors and elders and members who do nothing more to fulfill the great commission than to expect someone else to do the work of evangelism. Isn't it time we got back to biblical evangelism? Let's reach out to the lost. There isn't much time left!

Put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation.
Repent of your sins and be obedient to His Word!
Congratulations to all of the Graduates out there! go make a difference for the sake of the Kingdom!

Please keep all of our dead soldiers families in your prayers today. We don't know who will be the next to die. Isn't it time we gave them God's Word?


Tony said...

Evangelism Day's church website design self-assessment tool can help churches see ways to develop their sites.



Question of Identity said...

We are presently building 'church' outside church buildings in that we are having nurture groups for non Christians held in their own homes or in a community centre. Our intention is to build house churches. We presently have 20 non Christians (sorry 19 because one has repented of her sins and gave her life to Jesus)involved in this. What are your thoughts?

pastorbrianculver said...

I like that idea! So long as the house church does not become a place of only being "social" in nature. With God's Word being lifted up and people being trained, then I say "Go for it!"

Joseph A. said...

Evangelism is by far the most neglected and misinterpreted sector of Christian obedience and servitude. As Mr. Washer once said (not verbatim): it's either going to take a massive authentic revival, or fierce, horrifying persecution in order to get American chruches back to where they need to be.

pastorbrianculver said...

that's right! Makes you wonder why people just don't seem to "get it" when it comes to evangelism.