After spending four years with the unchurched, my research team and I
have gained valuable perspectives on this group of non-Christian men and women.
I recently assimilated our interview material to glean a summary of an
interesting issue. The interview quotes we found were related to the unchurched
persons' view of Christians. Below are the seven most common responses we
Held in Good Light
The unchurched generally have a favorable view of Christians.
Contrary to conventional wisdom and media myths, most unchurched view
Christians in a positive light. Kenneth M., an unchurched 28-year-old man from
Florida, typifies this perspective: "I personally don't have a close friend who
is a Christian, but I know some fairly well. I respect their views, and most of
them seem to be good people. Maybe there are a few people that act like
religious fruitcakes, but the ones I know are okay."
Many times Christians are reticent to engage in conversations with the
unchurched because we fear their reactions. Most of the unchurched, however,
view us very positively.
The unchurched think Christians are much more informed about the Bible than
we really are.
Be prepared to hear a plethora of questions from an unchurched person if you
decided to enter into a friendship with him or her. The unchurched of America
generally think that we are biblical scholars.
They therefore expect informed responses to their questions about Scripture.
Even when a Christian explains that his/her biblical knowledge is not as great
as the unchurched thinks, the non-Christian typically takes such a response to
be an effort at modesty or an understatement of our true biblical acumen.
Why Wasn't I Invited?
The unchurched wonder why Christians do not invite them to church.
Our research team was shocked to find that about seven of ten unchurched
persons have never been invited to church.
Furthermore, the non-Christian generally has a willingness, if not a desire,
to attend church.
"I have a neighbor named Frank who is an outgoing Christian," said Bill J. of
Nevada. "He is all the time talking about his church activities and all the
things he's involved in. I've known Bill for over six years now, but he's never
hinted at me going to church with him. Don't you think that's kind of strange?"
Good Role Models
The unchurched look to Christians as models for healthy family lives.
We believers know the statistics that tell us that many Christian families
are struggling. In fact, the divorce rate among Christians is not significantly
different from that of the unchurched world.
Still, the unchurched persons around us think that we have our act together
in our family lives. And they look to us for hope and encouragement.
Friends for Life
The unchurched believe that a Christian is more likely to provide a lasting
friendship than non-Christians.
The unchurched are likely to be desirous of friendships and lasting
relationships. Many of these men and women are very lonely. And while many
Christians are reticent or too lazy to get involved in the lives of unchurched
persons, such an effort may prove to be the eternal difference in their lives.
Repeatedly, our research shows that the unchurched are much more likely to
accept Christ if a Christian will take the time to get involved in their lives.
Did You See That?
The unchurched struggle with inconsistencies in Christians' lives.
Penny U., an unchurched person from Philadelphia, likes her friend Bonnie.
"Yeah, Bonnie has been a good friend to me. I think that her religion has a
lot to do with her goodness."
So what is the struggle?
"I've heard Bonnie say some things lately that have really floored me. Now I
don't expect Christians to be perfect, but Bonnie has said some things that
wouldn't even come out of my mouth. I really wonder if she realizes how that
Share the Wealth
The unchurched wonder why Christians are often reticent to share their faith.
Perhaps the most eye-opening discovery we made about the unchurched person's
attitude towards us Christians is that most of them would like to hear about
Jesus Christ from us. Yet the vast majority of the unchurched with whom we spoke
have never had a Christian share their faith with them.
What a tragedy. And what an opportunity.