ARE WE REACHING NON-BELIEVERS?
There were 217 denominations listed in the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, and over 321,000 Protestant churches in the U.S. However, research reveals the actual number of people worshipping each week is 17.7% of population or 52 million people. If only 18% of Americans are attending church, then there must be a large percent of our community, neighbors, co-workers, and friends who are unchurched or non-believers. Barna Research Group noted that a typical churched believer will die without leading a single person to a relationship with Jesus Christ, and the majority of believers do not have a specific person in mind for whom they are praying in the hope that the person will be saved. Why are we not more concerned for non-believers coming to Christ? What has happened to evangelism?
Why Christians are failing in reaching the non-believers?
1. We have lost the sense of urgency, because we do not really believe in a literal Hell. Churches today have moved to universalism, where all will be saved without any kind of punishment or Bible thumping preacher using Hell to make people feel guilty. If you take the concept of Hell out of your thinking, then evangelism seems like a nice activity, but not a necessity. Put Hell, a literal place of torment, back into the equation and evangelism becomes a needed necessity, and suddenly souls are at stake and time is short.
2. We have outsourced evangelism by delegating our outreach efforts to pastors, church leaders and those who have the gift of evangelism. The typical Christian believes that since they are not gifted in evangelism, it is not their responsibility to share their faith.
3. We are men pleasers. We live in an inclusive society, and to proclaim that Jesus is the only way to heaven leads to mockery and we don’t want that.
4. We don’t know the Gospel message. It is hard to share a message you can’t explain.
5. We have forgotten to pray for the unsaved. One of our greatest assets in evangelism is praying for individuals and opportunities, but far too many times we fall short of praying for friends, family, etc…who are unsaved.
There are all kinds of reasons why we don’t reach out to non-believers, but let’s focus on how we can be a witness.
How might we reach the non-believers and unchurched?
1. Be Relevant: The unchurched are relatively comfortable with their style, yet many are still searching for a greater sense of meaning and significance. The answers they seek come through conversations with believers, not church or Sunday school. It is through these insightful conservations that the unchurched person begins to see the value of the Christian faith. Hearing the talk and witnessing the walk makes a spiritual impact.
2. Be Godly: When the unchurched are in a place where God’s people are truly experiencing the living, genuine presence of the Lord, even those who are just watching are affected.
3. Be Sensitive: Many people and churches make the unchurched into a project- a group who must be changed, and any technique that works is worth trying. The admonition to believers is to relate to the unchurched as people, not projects, and to do so with humility, love, and grace.
4. Be Caring: The unchurched are looking for evidence that members of a church truly love each other and love other people. They know the Golden Rule; they simply want to see if believers practice it. One of the key attractions to the unchurched is a body of believers that actively and regularly serves people; inside and outside the fold.
5. Be Knowledgeable: The unchurched need to know the Gospel, so a believer needs to understand the Gospel message. If you have only one verse, go to Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death (that’s the unbelievers present condition), but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (that’s their future position by trusting Christ).”
It is our responsibility to reach out to the non-believers with the Gospel message, and be relevant, godly, sensitive, caring and knowledgeable to those around us.
-Pastor Mike Kotrla