Leading the unchurched may not always seem easy, simply because the benefits of your church might not be as obvious to them as it is to you.
Most unchurched people aren’t opposed to attending church, but they have to find the right fit for their needs. This means listening to those needs and finding ways your church can help meet their needs.
The most important thing to remember is to take the time to understand unchurched people. In many cases, they’re just looking for a church that is open to their questions about faith.
It’s Difficult To Build Trust
With 45% of Americans identifying as unchurched, it’s important to help them find their way to the right church for them. The problem is building trust. Many unchurched are actually de-churched, meaning they once regularly attended a church. These people are hesitant to return due to bad experiences in the past. Building trust again isn’t easy, but with patience and persistence, it’s possible.
Leading the unchurched effectively means talking to them regularly. Ask if they’ve attended before and what made them stop. Find out why they’re hesitant to be a member. Once you know why they’re holding back, you’re better able to address those issues.
It Feels Like Two Different Worlds
How much do your church members and leaders know about current culture? If it’s been a while since you’ve had new members, your church may seem like an outdated foreign concept to the younger unchurched. Think of it like an out of touch school teacher. You can force students to sit and listen, but how much they comprehend depends on the teaching style. If the style is more current, the students pay better attention.
The same goes with leading the unchurched. You have to find a way to blend your current church community and current culture, so it feels more comfortable for everyone. For instance, your current members might not see the use for a website or social media accounts, but this may be the preferred way for the unchurched to find and interact with your church.
Sometimes You’re Just Not Ready Yet
It might be difficult for any church to admit, but you may be failing at leading the unchurched simply because your church isn’t quite ready yet. The big question you might have right now is “how do I know if the church is ready?”. The easiest way to answer that is by taking a look at Carey Nieuwhof’s post 9 Signs Your Church Is Ready To Reach Unchurched People. If you’re struggling with any of these areas, focus on improving first and then you’ll be ready to lead unchurched people better.
Your Members Have To Be On Board
It doesn’t matter how effective your leadership is with the unchurched if your members aren’t being supportive. If unchurched people feel judged or shunned because they’re not members or regular attendees, they won’t be receptive to anything from the church. Make sure that your members are accepting and encouraging. This makes the unchurched attendees feel more comfortable and they’ll give the church a better chance.
The Unchurched Have Big Questions
The unchurched aren’t unreachable. It’s just that nearly two-thirds have never had anyone actually explain faith in a meaningful way. Leading the unchurched means you may have to start from scratch. For people who haven’t pursued their faith, they’ll have quite a few questions and it’s up to you and your members to answer them as completely as possible.
Seeming shocked or annoyed by their questions will just prove to them that you’re not the right church for them. While every question can’t be answered, the right leadership will help them understand why there isn’t an answer. As with any member, everyone has questions. Be prepared to answer unchurched individuals’ questions and they’ll be more likely to follow your leadership.
Leading The Unchurched On Their Terms
If you want to lead the unchurched better and turn more of them into members, you have to learn to reach them on their terms. It might mean taking a more modern approach, but isn’t that worth it to fill your church and reach more people?
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