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How to Reach Those Who Think They Don't Need God

According to this survey, the number of people in Canada who profess “no religion” is now at 24 percent, up from 16.5 percent a decade earlier.

That’s a massive shift in a mere 10 years.

As I reflect on it all, I’m left with this growing realization: People are learning to live comfortably without God. 

Want to see where this might be heading? Go to Western Europe, where people have very comfortable lives and only a splinter regularly attend church. They just don’t see their need for God.

Rather than being met with a wall of hostility, Christians are mostly being met with a wall of indifference and perceived irrelevance. 

I believe that means a massive shift in attitude and approach for those of us in leadership in the local church.

Much of the church’s outreach over the last 60 years has been based on a few assumptions that are less and less true every year:

Assumption #1: Young adults will return to church when they have kids.

Assumption #2: People will turn to God when they hit a crisis.

Assumption #3: Most people will come back to what they left when they were young. 

Assumption #4: When people have spiritual needs, they will look to the church to fulfill them.

Instead, here’s what I see as increasingly true among unchurched people who are learning to live comfortably without God:

Truth #1: Affluence (even many of our poor are affluent from a global perspective) has left people with a sense they have all they need to face life.

Truth #2: People don’t always turn to God in a crisis; they honestly don’t think the church can help.

Truth #3: You can only come back to something you knew. When you are on your second or third generation of “unchurched,” there is nothing to come back to for many people.

Truth #4: Personalized, google-able spirituality doesn’t demand the assistance of anyone or anything else. 

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.