Dr. Thom Rainer wrote an article several years ago called, “Ten Surprises About the Unchurched.” In the article Rainer tries to motivate the Christian understand the mind and heart of the pre-Christian.
Dr. Rainer for close to 3 years did an extensive research on the unchurched. Rainer and his team of researchers covered all 50 states and even Canada just listening to the unchurched and recording some of their comments.
As I first read this article in its entirety, I was shocked by some of the surprises but at the same time there were some things that were just common sense. It is important to note that some of these surprises have some qualifying comments, therefore as you read through them there are reasons behind them.
Here are the surprises:
Surprise #1: Most of the unchurched prefer to attend church on Sunday morning if they attend because there is so much going on in their lives on the other days of the week.
Surprise #2: Most of the unchurched feel guilty about not attending church and church intimidates the unchurched person because they don’t think they can fit in a place they have never attended.
Surprise #3: Ninety-six percent of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if they are invited. Simply put: More than nine out of 10 of the unchurched said they would come to church if they were invited. But the sad fact is only 21 percent of active churchgoers invite anyone to church in the course of a year.
Surprise #4: Very few of the unchurched had someone share with them how to become a Christian. And Christians have not been particularly influential in their lives.
Surprise #5: Most of the unchurched have a positive view of pastors, ministers and the church. If the unchurched see the church in a positive light, why are they still unchurched? First, some of the unchurched have visited churches, but their experiences have been negative. Unfriendliness, unkempt facilities, poor signage, and general confusion have been some of the descriptions about the church from the unchurched. The second reason goes back to the third surprise – most of the unchurched have never been invited to church.
Surprise #6: Many of the unchurched have a church background. Some had previously been members of churches and left for various reasons. Others visited one or more churches for a season.
Surprise #7: Some types of “cold calls” are effective; many are not. Showing up at someone’s home without an invitation was one of the biggest turnoffs articulated by the unchurched.
Surprise #8: The unchurched would like to develop a real and sincere relationship with a Christian. Most of the unchurched can easily tell the difference between ‘drive-by’ evangelism and a person who rally cares.
Surprise #9: The attitudes of the unchurched are not correlated to where they live, their ethnic or racial background, or their gender. The unchurched are not a monolithic group.
Surprise #10: Many of the unchurched are far more concerned about the spiritual well-being of their children than themselves.
After discovering these surprises, we, as believers in Jesus Christ have a responsibility.