At Grace Hills, we often talk about our passion for reaching the least, the last, and the lost. Another church planting friend of mine talks about reaching the bent, the bound, and the broken.
Thom Rainer, who has a knack for making research interesting, has put forth some real data about these unreached peoples, and he has three new terms too: the nones, the nominals, and the nomads. Rainer writes,
The nones represent those American adults that self-identify as having no church affiliation. A recent Pew Research study garnered much attention when it noted that the number of American nones had grown from 15 percent of the population to 20 percent of the population in the past five years . . .
Most research and strategies for churches to reach the unchurched have dealt with reaching the nones. There are, however, two other groups that are largely neglected . . .
About 80 percent of the American adult population has some religious affiliation. But over half of that group states they attend church monthly, yearly, seldom, or never. I call that group the nominals . . .
Though church leaders intuitively know there are large numbers of these persons to reach, few develop strategies for doing so.
From my perspective, the nomads are one of the most neglected groups by church leaders. The reason we neglect them is simple: we see them often so we don’t think of them as unchurched.. . . It is my thesis that much of the attendance drop in churches today can be explained by the commitment and attendance behavior of church members.
Church attendance isn’t the normative behavior of people in our current culture, so it cannot be assumed that everyone will feel the need to check out church. What we do know is that everyone needs to be loved, so reach out to the nones, the nominals, and the nomads. Go love’em. Go reach’em!