What is it that churches need to do in order to gain access to getting the un-churched into the body of Christ and then to let them find a new salvation in Him? So many churches and so many different ideas and now it comes down to which is the best idea and how does it affect our current focus? If each church was to look at their current programs and their current focus, would it be the right strategy to reach the unchurched or is there something else that needs to be done? What if churches began to look outside the box and take a look at themselves from the eyes of the unchurched and then tried to implement some change? The problem with so many churches in society today is that they are doing the same old thing each and every day or week and they are not looking at the expectations of the unchurched and what they are looking for. Society as a whole needs to take a step back and begin to find new and relevant ideas that step into the world of the un-churched and get them into churches so that they can experience the grace of God and what it means to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Who are the unchurched and what is the best description of one? There are so many ideas of what an unchurched person is and there are different statistics about them. As we develop this idea of reaching the unchurched, we will use two similar ideas of what the unchurched. According to Thom Rainer, he describes the unchurched as, “one who has not been in church, except sporadically, for at least ten years (most for a lifetime).”
Our next step for us to reach the unchurched is to look at the call of the church and how it fits the vision to reach. Most churches should have an aggressive plan to reach out into the world. As with the church the vision or purpose statement should in some way say they are attempting to reach out into the world to connect people to Christ. Our purpose statement is geared so that anyone coming to the church understands that they are here to reach out into the world and look beyond the walls of the church. The church is also geared to bringing the unchurched, disenfranchised, or even disconnected into the body of Christ. All these things are geared through two main verses found in the Great Commission and Great Commandment. The Great Commandment is found in Matthew 22:36-40, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” The Great Commission is found in Matthew 28:18-20 and it says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” With these two a church can accomplish so much to gain access to bring the unchurched into the body.
The issue is, is the church ready to embody these two elements? Can the church fulfill the Great Commission through the Great Commandment? As a church universal, we need to begin to look at the unchurched as the unloved and disconnected from God. There are so many of these disconnected/unchurched people in the world today. In fact The Barna Group says, there has been a ninety-two percent increase in the number of unchurched Americans in the last thirteen years. These millions of people need the church to do the call of Christ on the world so that they do not remain unchurched.
To reach the unchurched it is going to take leaders and congregations that are eager to change and willing to do what is necessary to reach the unchurched. It is also important that the leaders and congregations look at the internal reason why people stay unchurched or become unchurched. Aubrey Malphurs says, “We found that while some people leave the local church and fall away from God altogether, there is a much larger segment of Americans who are currently leaving churches precisely because they want more of God in their life but cannot get what they need from the local church. These Christians are leaving church because the experience hasn’t furthered their commitment to God. It would appear that a significant number—possibly a majority—of our struggling churches sprinkled all across America represent a lukewarm rather than a vibrant Christianity that is doing more harm than good to those who attend them.” Now is the time to step back and take a look at what the church is missing.
What is the church to do when it stops reaching the unchurched? Is the church just to go and die and not seek to be the hands and feel for Christ? Is it the piece where Christ is the head and has no body underneath it? For the church is called to reach out into a dying world and be the hands and feel of Christ. Romans 12:4-6 says, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” The church is called to use the gifts it has to be living sacrifices for others that do not know Christ and to serve as Christ would serve. Part of this serving is to reach out to the unchurched in a various amounts of ways and to see them as equals not the lesser. Christ would want each church to look first at who is the foundation of the church and then see what lies on the outside and inside of the church that could be a deterrent to the unchurched. Then once this accomplished the church should say in unison, “How are we going to change?”
Christ has called the church to be a light into the world with Christ being the light that shines through it. Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Christ is the light, John 8:12, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The issue now is how is the church going to do it? Is it going to seek the lost with full force or just take a stab at it? Rainer leaves the reader with a topic on excellence. He says, “The fellowships of many churches have become havens for mediocrity. The formerly unchurched were completely turned off by poor music, unkempt facilities, poorly prepared sermons, and ill-equipped Sunday school teachers. The typical American unchurched person has come to expect excellence in the business world, in the marketplace, and in the entertainment industry. Often we heard the formerly unchurched voice surprise that God’s church would accept anything that did not approach excellence.” Each church should seek to the best they can for the unchurched. It is not about the money but about putting your heart into it and truly meaning it. The church needs to be intentional about seeking the lost and dying but they need to do it to the best of their abilities. For the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:7 “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord and not men.” It is time for the church to look past understanding the hands and feet of Christ but to step up and BE the hands and feet; the un-churched need to see, feel and hear our Lord and Savior.