In case you missed part 1 of this series of blog posts you might want to read that first.
David Kinnaman of the Barna Research Group says, “In the United States, 60% of people believe you to be a social extremest if you try to convert somebody to your faith.” ( Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast Episode 82 )
When an unchurched person walks into the doors of our church they are walking through them with skepticism and misconceptions. This is not only true for adults this is just as true for students. Students and Adults alike can just as easily research Richard Dawkins twitter feed or the late Christophers Hitchens books, and find plenty of ammo to be on edge when it comes to their perception of Church and God. So how can we prepare and be ready for the unchurched? Let me give you four ways we can be prepared.
- Pray– Our prayers more often than not consist of two things. Heal this person and Keep this person safe. Healing and safety seem like the two words that could some up ninety percent of our prayer life, but what if we shifted our prayer life from being completely about Healing and Safety to praying for our neighbors, coworkers, and family members who don’t know Jesus. As the church collectively shifts their prayers from healing and safety to salvation, we will get to sit back and see God begin to move.
- Be Genuinely Friendly– There is a reason places like publix and chick fil a are so beloved here in the south, and that’s because they are genuinely friendly. One time while shopping at a large retailer I accidentally spilled a bottle of liquid off one of the shelves, and I looked every where to find somebody who could help me clean it up. As soon as I found an employee I asked if they could help me, and their response was “the paper towels are on aisle 12. You can grab some there.” It felt so rude and off putting to have an employee be so unfriendly. There are many times people feel that same level of rudeness from churches, and it is our responsibility to create a culture of genuine friendliness. We shouldn’t ask people to be fake friendly because that’s off putting, but genuine friendliness makes everyone including the biggest skeptic feel a little more at ease.
- Speak to Emotions and Intellect– If we only focus on emotions during the sermon, then it feels like, and it actually is, emotional manipulation, but if we speak to only the intellectual side of a person then we miss the emotions that are involved at the core of human interactions. The messages will feel stale. While it is not our job to sell people on Christianity, we can put forth every effort to make the greatest message on earth come alive in the greatest way possible. It’s not a “either or.”sermons students and adults need. It’s a “both and.” We must address the emotions and the intellect of a person.
- Address the Skeptic– If your church is reaching anybody new on a week to week basis, then there will be a skeptic in the audience. It is ok whether during worship or prayer or sermons to address the questions they might be thinking. Part of being prepared for the unchurched is thinking through worship and prayer and sermons through their perspective. In fact when we address the skeptic and their questions it normally helps put them more at ease, and they will be more receptive to the worship experience.
It is not the churches responsibility to save people. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit, but God has placed the church in charge of delivering the greatest message in the world. We must work together to make sure can push aside every noise and distraction so the gospel can be heard more clearly for all of our unchurched friends.