I am going to Colorado tomorrow to the Future Church Conference to discuss these issues with the people at Group Publishing. They do a lot of research on this topic and have published several books about it.
I read several books, monographs and articles on outreach or evangelism or church growth. All seem to agree with several points. Why Nobody Wants to be Around Christians Anymore, Thom and Joani Schultz, The Rise of Nones, James Emery White, “What Works Today,” by Rob Toal, in The State of Church Ministry in America, 2017. Ctpastors.com, October, 2016: Church Refugees, Ashleigh Hope and Josh Packard, Group Publishing. I have also interviewed several leaders, young people and retired persons about their perceptions of the situation.
The recent monograph from ctpastors.com summarizes the biggest barriers to outreach this way. “Today’s church faces profound challenges within the broader culture: political correctness, postmodern relativism, religious pluralism. We live in a society full of unchurched people who don’t know the basic tenets of Christianity or thee redemptive story the scriptures tell. The church at large has a poor reputation among non-0Christians. Many hold distorted views of Jesus, the gospel, and traditional Christian faith, so they are biased against us before we had a chance to start a conversation.
Our ability to engage the world is also hampered by internal issues. Some Christians question the motive behind traditional outreach efforts, viewing them as a bait and switch. Many in our congregations seem reluctant to share the gospel, either claiming that evangelism isn’t their gift or hiding in fear of potential rejection.
As a Seasoned Believer myself I think 2/3 of the people in my shoes are interested in a gathering that has the following attributes.
1. Transcendent. A place that God is sensed and sought and that shows up regularly.
2. Has a permission attitude that encourages everyone to get involved as he or she wants. No pressure and nobody saying no to the people that want to do something.3. Recognizes the gifts and talents of every person.
4. Little up front teaching. Open dialogue that everyone can enter.
5. Gentle worship.
6. Prayer for the sick an regular answers.
7, Meets anywhere. Bricks and mortar are not important.
Read Church Refugees to see their ideas about why so many Seasoned Believers are dropping out and why many Pastors do not care.
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