How to Make God Real to a Skeptical Public

It’s true. Most people avoid church. They’re not interested.

But that doesn’t mean they’re disinterested in God.

Here’s the problem. The population perceives that the church has taken its eye off its primary focus.

Jesus has been sidelined by other, shinier things.

As we conducted research for our new book, Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore, we heard a number of things that distract people from the church’s true focus:

1. Social issues

2. Political issues

3. Church financial needs

4. Celebrity pastors

5. Showy worship

6. Sin and damnation

7. Rules

8. Theological minutiae

These things tend to repel the unchurched—and they distract regular churchgoers from the main focus. God gets upstaged. Only 44 percent of faithful churchgoers say they regularly experience God at church.

But 88 percent of the population say that faith is important to them. They desire to grow closer to God.

How does the church respond to this desire? Too often, it responds with more teaching, more information, more rhetoric. Some leaders say, “The problem is biblical illiteracy.” That may be an issue, but it is not the core problem. The problem—as it was in Jesus’ time—is far more basic.

The public—unchurched and churched alike—is dying to be assured that God is real, alive, active and present in their lives today. This isn’t complicated. They simply yearn for evidence, for reminders, that God exists, and loves them, and is personally interested in them. This hunger is felt even by longtime church members who’ve sat through hundreds of sermons and Bible studies. They know the information. But they desperately crave the inspiration, the close presence of God.

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Thom Schultz
Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.

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