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Surprising Insights from the Unchurched: and Proven Ways to Reach Them

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Presentation on theme: "Surprising Insights from the Unchurched: and Proven Ways to Reach Them"— Presentation transcript:

1 Surprising Insights from the Unchurched: and Proven Ways to Reach Them
A book by Thom S. Ranier Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001

2 Those Who Have Changed “Why not ask questions of those who did make the transition from the unchurched to the churched?” (p. 20) “Remember, as you listen to each formerly unchurched person, that each of them has been a Christian less than two years, most a year or less.” (p. 32)

3 A Misunderstood Opportunity
41% of Americans attend church services on a typical Sunday (p. 33). Over 80% said religious faith was important in their lives (p. 34). “Many churches, however, have been addressing only the symptoms. A certain worship style, the latest small group, a new church vernacular, or the ‘right’ church name is seen as a panacea to the problem of not reaching the unchurched….Yet the real ‘treatment’ must be at a deeper and more profound level” (p. 36).

4 Myth #1 “Most unchurched think and act like Anglo, middle-class suburbanites with no church background” (p. 37). While most would agree the unchurched come from varied backgrounds, cookie cutter approaches have been used to reach them, ignoring the particular unique community to which they belong. “Our study has reminded us with no equivocation that the unchurched are not a monolithic group” (p. 38).

5 Myth #2 “The unchurched are turned off by denominational names in the church name” (p. 38). “Over 80 percent of the formerly unchurched told us that the church that the church name had little or no influence upon their joining a particular church” (p. 39). “Only 4 out of 100 formerly unchurched indicated that a denominational name had a negative influence on them as they sought a church home” (p. 40).

6 Myth #3 “The Unchurched Never Attend Church” (p. 41).
“…most adults attend some type of church service in the course of a year.” “Indeed, many of our formerly unchurched respondents found some efforts to make the church seeker-friendly a bit amusing” (p. 42).

7 Myth #4 “The Unchurched Cannot Be Reached by Direct Personal Evangelism” (p. 43). “Over one-half indicated that someone from the church they joined shared Christ with them.” “While the building of relationships with the unchurched is critical, we heard repeatedly that an evangelistic visit, even by a stranger from the church, had an eternal impact” (p. 44).

8 Myth #5 “The Pastor Must Be a Dynamic and Charismatic Leader for the Church to Reach the Unchurched” (p. 44).

9 Myth #6 “We Must Be Careful in Our Teaching and Preaching So That We Do Not Communicate Deep and Complex Biblical Truths That Will Confuse the Unchurched” (p. 45). “Ninety-one percent of the formerly unchurched indicated that doctrine was an important factor that attracted them to the church.” “How would our strategies change if we considered the teaching of doctrine to be a major issue in reaching the unchurched?” (p. 46).

10 Myth #7 The Sunday School and Other Small Groups Are Ineffective in Attracting the Unchurched” (p. 46). “…the formerly unchurched are positive about and attracted to Sunday school” (p. 47). “…nearly seven out of ten formerly unchurched were active in Sunday school at the point of our interview.”

11 Myth #8 “The Most Important Evangelistic Relationships Take Place in the Marketplace” (p. 47). “The marketplace most often refers to the place where we meet people who are not part of our family: workplaces, schools, neighborhoods, and places where we shop and do business.” “…our study…found that family member relationships were even more important. And of the different family members, wives were the ones most often mentioned as important to influencing the formerly unchurched to Christ…” (p. 49).

12 Myth #9 “The Unchurched Are Concerned Only about Their Own Needs” (p. 50). “…the unchurched often desire to be challenged.” “…the unchurched do not always seek a place of worship for their own needs.” “Almost one out of three of the formerly unchurched informed us that they came or returned to the church for their children.”

13 The Role of Preaching 97% said the preacher and preaching played a role in their change (p. 55). Eight things were important (pp ). Preaching that teaches the Bible Preaching that applies to my life The preacher is a real person The preacher is a person of conviction Personal contact by the preacher The preacher is a good communicator The preacher is a good leader The preacher’s class

14 Failures of Preachers After noting 90% of preachers spend only 2 hours per week in sermon preparation, Rainer speculated preachers might become better communicators if they spent more time in study. Failure to contact visitors is a mistake since the unchurched said all they sought was a simple phone call or brief visit from the preacher (p. 67).

15 Factors in Choosing a Church
Multiple factors are involved in most cases. In 1990, George Barna asked people what they want from a church and found doctrine and theology were #1 (p. 71). Almost 40% said family members were important in their choice (p. 74). Over 50% said relationships played a part in their choice (p. 76). However, relationships alone are not the best way to reach the unchurched (p. 78).

16 The Most Important Relationship
The wife is the most important relationship in reaching the unchurched (p. 83). Men seem more likely to be reached by relationships than women. Over 1/3 said their wives influenced them to attend Almost 20% indicated their children were the important relationship which influenced them The most important unchurched contact many have is living in their home.

17 Important First Impressions
Adequate parking Clean facilities Modern facilities High-quality preschool/nursery Variety of quality programs Relevant and quality music Clean bathrooms Friendly people Outgoing greeters Clearly marked and functional welcome center Good signage Comfortable seating Attention-holding preaching

18 More Impact from the Second Visit
“The formerly unchurched were more impacted by their second visit than their first visit” (p. 93). They were overwhelmed on their first visit. 90% “indicated that some factor about the people or the facilities impacted their decision to return for another visit.” Most said that decision was made in the first few minutes of the 1st visit.

19 Friendliness (pp. 95-97) A factor for 88%
“Most churches believe they are friendly when in reality they are friendly only to others whom they already know.” “Manufactured friendliness is obvious.” Friendly churches likely have friendly preachers Evangelistic effectiveness directly correlates

20 Facilities and Children
Nice facilities/adequate space (pp ) A woman can find dirt, cracked windows, etc. better than a man and should inspect everything every 6 months The nursery/preschool/children’s issue (pp ). Safety is the number 1 concern Easy accessibility Ability to be notified if needed Apparent concern of adult staff Cleanliness of children’s areas

21 Organization and Welcome
Organization of worship services (pp ). Well organized services indicate a seriousness about our mission Greeters and welcome centers ( ). Current information about the church Friendly greeters, possibly enthusiastic new converts A balance of ages among greeters Good locations, including parking lots

22 Why They Return and Stay
Doctrine clarified (pp ) “Churches that are unambiguous in their beliefs and clear on their teachings…see more of their visitors return and more attenders join.”

23 Why They Return and Stay
High expectations (p. 111) “High assimilation churches communicated that their Christian community expects much of everyone. Members are expected to live and minister in a way that is consistent with New Testament teachings. They are expected to attend worship and Sunday school or small groups regularly, adhere to doctrine, be involved in ministry, attend new member classes, and if they are new Christians, participate in some type of mentoring or discipleship relationship.”

24 Why They Return and Stay An Entry Point Class (pp. 112-114)
Doctrine of the church Polity of the church Explanation of Lord’s Supper/baptism Explanation of the church covenant Policies for church discipline Expectation of members after joining History of the church Tour of the building How to become a Christian Tithing/financial support Method/meaning of baptism Requirements for membership Ministry opportunities in the church

25 Why They Return and Stay An Entry Point Class (pp. 112-114)
Introduction to spiritual disciplines Introduction to the church staff/leadership Explanation of the church’s mission and or vision Inventory of spiritual gifts Structure/support of missions Brief evangelism training “…churches that require persons to enter membership through a new members’ class have a much higher retention rate than those that do not.”

26 Why They Return and Stay Small Groups and Sunday School (pp. 115-119)
Relationships must develop naturally thru planned opportunities for new members “…some type of small-group involvement was deemed very important to the formerly unchurched.” There is a clear relationship between effective assimilation and small groups. Those becoming immediately involved in Sunday School are 5 times more likely to stay

27 Why They Return and Stay
Clarity of purpose (pp ) Evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry and worship, which would include prayer Ministry involvement (pp ) “More than any other factor, the formerly unchurched told us that their service and ministry in the church keeps them coming back each week.”

28 Doctrine Really Matters
91% thought doctrine was important “...they were insistent that the churches should be uncompromising in their stand.” Dean Kelley, Why Conservative Churches Are Growing, 1972 Believe the Bible and make no apology for their beliefs Distinctive code of conduct Practice strict discipline Commit significant resources to their causes Have missionary zeal

29 Doctrine Really Matters
When asked why doctrine was so important, “The most frequent response was their desire to know truth or absolutes” (p. 130). Nearly half chose a church for its certitude (the conviction of belief, p ). Preacher frequently mentioned doctrinal issues Noticed the level of conviction “Speaking the truth in love”—strong in convictions but gentle in spirit

30 Doctrine Really Matters
Doctrine helped close the back door (p. 135) “…no one desires to be a part of an organization or cause based on uncertainty or ambiguity.” “…unambiguous declaration of absolutes. In a world of relativity, many seekers desire to know that a black and white reality does exist.” “…churches with doctrinal certitude tend to be activists in their beliefs.”

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