Friday, December 12, 2014

The Unchurched in America

One of the elders in my church sent me a link to this article by Barna.

After you read that quick article, let me offer some thoughts on ministry implications ...

#1 - this is exactly why we no longer have to consider "mission work" as going somewhere. The need for mission is greatest right here in our own neighborhoods. Partner this with the facts in #6, and you see that our need here in LA/OC is great.

#3 - the idea that so many of the unchurched have attended church, and have chosen to be "unchurched" is exactly why we are high on the value of biblical preaching, gospel centrality, and culturally relevant, in our church. This is why the ideas of doing things "the way we always" have is so flawed. People are not returning to churches, in many cases, because what they have to offer them is so weak. People have visited churches looking for something - expecting something, and when they have not found it, it is because the churches have lost sight of what truly has power, and traded it in for what they think the culture will respond to. The number one thing people say they like when they visit our church is our emphasis of the Bible. Why has the church at large missed this?

#6 - this is why we are constantly talking about, aiming into, and supporting, planting churches. We are so in need of reaching our part of the country, that the only way this will happen is through church planting. The primary way the leaders that God used to start "the church" in an unchurched culture (the first century) was by planting churches. All of the book of Acts is a story of church planting.

#8 - this is exactly why we call the older and more mature believers in the church to conceed in style and approach for worship, teaching, and image, because we are losing an entire generation. Each generation is slipping further and further away. They must become the focus of our direction or we will not only lose our faith in the next generation, but our entire nation will suffer when we lose the very thing we were founded on. Those who are mature in their faith are called by God to become that which will serve the next generation in reaching them. Doing things "the way we always have", or "the way I like them", is selfish, and requires us to submit our hearts to God in repentance.

#10 - this should indicate that the harvest is ripe for the worker. People identifying as oriented towards Christianity, should indicate that we have common ground with those who need Jesus so deeply. It is not like we have to convince them that Buddha is wrong. We just need to show them that what they inherently already profess requires their submission to it. God is not a God who is disengaged: God is a personal God, founded in Jesus Christ, that requires our full submission and worship. The gospel can no longer be about hawking Heaven to people, offering them an eternity that is disconnected from our today. But, instead, it requires our submission to God today that will result in an eternal outcome.