5. Cause has the greatest potential to connect. As James Emery White points out in The Rise of the Nones, there was a time when unchurched people responded directly to a gospel message, joined in community and then joined in the cause (1950s to 1980s). This was followed by a period when unchurched people responded first to an opportunity to join a community, found Christ and then joined in the cause (1990s to 2000s). What about now? White points out that the Pew Forum study revealed that 78 percent of those surveyed said that “religious organizations bring people together and strengthen community bonds,” and 77 percent said “religious organizations play an important role in helping the poor and needy.” Interpretation? “We may have lost the opportunity to walk with them (unchurched people) and talk with them, but we haven’t lost the opportunity to do good to them and for them and with them” (p. 100, The Rise of the Nones). Providing opportunities to join causes that resonate with unchurched people (i.e., clean water, orphan care, sex trafficking, etc.) offer new front doors to relationship.
I hope you are thinking about these powerful new trends as you build your small group ministry. My thinking has been impacted by a number of books including The Rise of the Nones and The Next Christians.