Today, I am beginning my review of Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them by Thom Rainer.
This book is a research project. If you enjoy research, you will enjoy this book. Surprising Insights is about the formerly unchurched and their journey to becoming active in the local church. The goal then is to study what moved them to the church and develop strategies to reach the millions who were previously like them. The working definintion of formerly unchurched, according to Rainer is, one who has not been in church except sporadically, for at least ten years, but has recently become active in a church.
America is becoming an increasingly unchurched country as each generation passes. Chapter one gives the telling statistics. Only 41% of Americans attend church services on a typical weekend. In America, at the printing of this book (2001), it takes 85 church members to reach one person for Jesus Christ. I have a feeling that number is higher in 2009.
The bulk of this chapter covers nine myths the formerly unchurched destroyed about reaching the unchurched population. I have to admit, I have been guilty of believing at least one of these myths. I list them here for you to consider.
1. Most unchurched think and act like Anglo, middle-class suburbanites with no church background.
2. The unchurched are turned off by by denominational names in the church name.
3. The unchurched never attend church.
4. The unchurched cannot be reached by direct personal evangelism.
5. The Pastor must be a dynamic and charismatic leader for the church to reach the unchurched.
6. We must be careful in our teaching and preaching so that we do not communicate deep and complex biblical truths that will confuse the unchurched.
7. The Sunday School and other small groups are ineffective in attracting the unchurched.
8. The most important evangelistic relationships take place in the marketplace.
9. The unchurched are only concerned about their own needs.