I'll host sessions exploring the topics of the rest of this post, with a focus on how to engage unchurched people in Christian conversation, each Wednesday, Oct. 6-Nov. 17. We’ll start at 6:30, after the family meal. I hope you will come and join in!
Did you know that the fastest growing religious group in America are people severing ties with a church, or maintaining their separation? One in six American adults say they are not of any organized religion, many more than that for young adults. More than one-fourth of Americans say they don’t even want a religious funeral.
Where does that put us? In many ways, it puts us increasingly into the same sort of environment that the apostolic and early churches found themselves—a culture that resists the Gospel and is even sometimes hostile to it.
The worst and most faithless thing Christians could do is adopt a bunker mentality and write the unchurched off. That isn’t what the early church did, and Jesus never told us to proclaim the Gospel only to those who say they want to hear it.
On Sept. 21, I spent the day at a seminar sponsored by the Tenn. Conference called, “Spiritual Conversations.” How do disciples of Jesus engage people who do not know Christ in a meaningful way that opens up paths of God’s grace into their lives?
1. Do your own thing.
Our culture increasingly denies that there are objective standards of morality or right living. People believe that they both should and can decide for themselves what is right or wrong and that one person’s opinion is pretty much as good as another’s. One result is that the Bible is not nearly as highly regarded in the general culture as it once was. Increasingly, people are turning to “spirituality” in lieu of “religion,” and spirituality is highly individualistic and opportunistic.
2. Christian claims are intellectually unsupportable.
3. The evil in the world.
4. Christians are just hypocrites.
By their daily activity, most 'Christians' regularly commit treason. With their mouths they claim that Jesus is their Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate their allegiance to money, sex, and personal self-fulfillment.
5. “I don’t feel welcome or comfortable at church.”
One result of these five factors and the way they inter-relate is that even church people well grounded in our faith shrink from being forthright to others, especially non-believers, about their faith. It’s not so much that we do not know what we believe, it’s that we often cannot explain why we believe it! And the problem is compounded by becoming tongue-tied when another person starts asking penetrating questions!