If you’re like many Christians, you have an authentic desire to share your faith with people who don’t yet follow Jesus. I know I do.
One of my deepest longings is that every person would come to know the love and salvation that Jesus extends to them.
But unchurched people are changing.
Even since I started ministry 18 years ago, there’s been a big shift in how unchurched people think. Particularly here in Canada, we are a bit of a hybrid between the U.S. and Europe. Canadians are less ‘religious’ than Americans, but less secular than Europeans.
Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman have outlined helpful characteristics of unchurched people in UnChristian, and David tackled it again in You Lost Me. I won’t repeat those characteristics here. (Both books are fantastic reads.)
Post-modernism has a deeper toe-hold here than almost anywhere in America, except perhaps the Northwest and New England, where it might be about the same.
Here are characteristics of unchurched people that I’m seeing today.
1. They don’t all have big ‘problems.’
If you’re waiting for unchurched people to show up because their life is falling apart, you might wait a long time. Sure, there are always people in crisis who seek God out. But many are quite content with their lives without God. And some are quite happy and successful.
If you only know how to speak into discontent and crisis, you will miss most of your neighbors.
2. They feel less guilty than you think.
They don’t feel any more guilty about not being in church on Sunday than you feel guilty about not being in synagogue on Saturday. How many Saturdays do you feel badly about missing synagogue? That’s how many Sundays they feel badly about missing church.
3. Occasional is regular.
When they start coming, they don’t always attend every week. Giving them easy, obvious and strategic steps to get connected is important. Disconnected people generally don’t stick. (I wrote more about the declining frequency of church attendance here.)