Often good research defies "common sense" thinking. This seems to be especially true in the church of today. In his book Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, Thom Rainer unpacks great research regarding the formerly unchurched. Rainer defines the formerly unchurched as "one who has not been in church, except sporadically, for at least ten years (most for a lifetime) but has recently become active in a church. All of the formerly unchurched have also recently become Christians, not merely church attenders." In his study, the data revealed that these are the primary factors that led the formerly unchurched to choose the church they now attend:
1. Pastor/Preaching - 90%
2. Doctrines - 88%
3. Friendliness of members - 49%
4. Someone from church witnessed to me - 41%
5. Family member attends - 38%
Anecdotally, the unchurched members said these factors had the least to do with why they chose a church:
Children's/Youth ministry - 25%
Other groups/ministries - 12%
Worship Style/Music - 11%
Location - 7%
So, what does this study reveal? It reveals that if we hope to reach the unchurched in our communities, we must allow the pastor time to prepare to preach well. The pastor must be diligent to be a student of the Word of God and must prepare well to teach the people. This is a challenge for me as a new pastor and I am stretching and growing in my preaching skills and abilities.
Secondly, it demonstrates just how important the people of the church are. When a new person visits the church building on Sundays, we must be people who reach out and love others. This may be all it takes for them to let their guard down long enough to hear the gospel message.
I'm so thankful that the people of Faith are loving. You wouldn't believe our fellowship. During the service, we allow a lengthy period of time for our people to greet one another. In most places, these times are rushed and cut short. They are normally used as a transition for the band to exit the stage and for the pastor to get in place. At Faith, our people truly demonstrate a great love for one another.
Faith, I hope that I can be the pastor that God has called me to be. Thank you for being loving people to all who join us each week. Together, we can reach the unchurched and bring great glory to God!
All for Jesus,