Ways to Draw in the Unchurched

Dec 17, 2002 11:27 AM EST

VENTURA Ca – A nationally renowned researcher explores the world of the unchurced to find what draws them nearer to churches. His findings suggest that churches need to do a better job of understanding them to reach them.

Grow Your Church From the Outside In by George Barna features research gathered from interviews with thousands of unchurched people.

“There are nearly 100 million unchurched people in the U.S.” he asks, “ Do you know how to connect with them in ways that will lead to faith-based life transformation?”

Barna says the greatest reason people do not attend church is because they feel they would not have much control over their lives.

"Churches are high-control institutions," Barna says, "so we've got to think about ways to attract that large group of tens of millions of unchurched people who don't want to give up control of everything in their lives right off the bat -- as many churches would expect them to do."

Research also suggests that many churches have lost their focus when reaching the unchurched. “Seeker Friendly” services with watered down gospel messages do not attract the unchurched. Instead, Barna claims, people seek God’s presence.

"The one thing that the local church can provide that no other social institution does is the tangible, palpable presence of God," Barna says. "So trying to make church the lowest common denominator really is not the issue here.

"Trying to help people understand who God is, and ushering them into His presence ... that’s what we need to be aiming at," he says.

Barna says that letting the unchurched be in the presence of God, though they may not fully understand what that means, is the key in stirring a desire in their hearts to want more of it. Barna also suggested that churches need to do a better job at making God’s Word relevant to the everyday lives of the unchurched.

By Paulina C.