Convincing the “Nones”: Loving the Unchurched*

Emanuel AME Church

“When I am on the water on Sunday mornings, that IS my church!” my friend Jeff passionately exclaimed.

I could not remember the last time I saw Jeff in our church, although he was a long-time member from childhood. I missed him.

Jeff is so fun and is an influential leader in the community. He had recently purchased a new boat. He went out every day after work and every day of the weekend.

Jeff represents the fastest- growing demographic in the US—the unchurched or “nones.” According to the Barna research group, the “nones” are the group of people who check the “none” box under “religion” or “church.” Sadly, this group is the most rapid growing demographic with approximately 100 million people in the US. Of that 100 million, 2/3 haven’t been to a worship service in the last six months. One statistic showed that of these unchurched, 40 percent used to attend church regularly. Ouch.

It’s not about being religious or simply attending church. Or at least it’s not for me.  It’s about discovering and strengthening a faith relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. How can we love on and convince the “nones” in our life to grow in their relationship with the Lord and want to attend church?

Attending church doesn’t make me a Christian, just as sitting in a doctor’s office doesn’t make me a doctor. Sunday morning worship at church is my favorite time of the whole week. Involving myself in church Sunday School and activities, hearing Biblically-sound sermons, and fellowshiping with fellow believers all strengthen my faith.

“In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” –1 Peter 3:15

Based on this wonderful life verse, the following are three ways you can be used to encourage others to deepen their faith and find a church home:

  1. Be ready, passionate and authentic with your testimony and your love for your church. No one can dispute your eyewitness account of how faith in Jesus has transformed your life. You are an ambassador (and cheerleader) for Christ and your church.
  2. Be humble about what God is doing in your life. Give God the glory. Don’t take any of the credit for God’s miracles.
  3. Be respectful of those God places in your path. We are not to judge. We are simply “fruit inspectors” of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

The following story I heard long ago epitomizes our need for church fellowship. May the faith fires of our hearts continue to burn brightly, warming the “nones” and those all around us. May our churches and hearts experience revival as a result.

The Fiery Sermon

A member of a country church had gotten upset with one of the church committees and decided he didn’t need to attend church anymore. After a few weeks, the minister decided to visit him.  It was a chilly day.  That evening, the minister found the man at home all alone sitting by a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his minister’s visit, the man welcomed him, and led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.  The minister made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs.  After some minutes, he took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone.  Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation.  As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

The minister glanced at his watch and chose this time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire.  Immediately it began to glow once more, with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the minister reached the door to leave, his host said, with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your fiery sermon.  I shall be back in church next Sunday”.

*Danya’s message is reprinted from the Charleston Mercury’s Carolina Compass, July 2016 Edition.

Reflect:

Who are your neighbors or loved ones who can show God’s love and invite to church with you?

Renew:

“On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18b.

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus,’ is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and will all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.'” –Mark 12:28-31.

Resources:

https://www.barna.org/barna-update/

www.theaquilareport

www.smithvillechurch.org

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