Remembering the Unchurched: In Ministry & In Our Lives

Today we will get our Sunday best on, and attend our local church.  Well many Christians will.  There are many Christians who won’t, and there even many more who aren’t Christians who have never gone to church.  I want to remember them this morning.

In the para-church organization I worked at we served men and women who were unchurched for three generations in their family.  We found out by asking them.  On the our intake form we asked:

“Do you attend church, and If you were to die and go to heaven today what would you say if God asked, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven’.”

No one was offended by these questions.  Everyone talked freely about their beliefs.  The only time people were offended is if we asked them to stop doing something, or when we asked when was the first time they had sex.  We were a pregnancy center, and this is a question some center’s ask to obtain information about how early clients are having sex.

People were offended by that question, and we didn’t feel it was relevant to our ministry so we stopped asking about their sex life.  As a point of reference I think 14 was the youngest answer we got.

Do you attend church?

The people we served were honest about their church attendance.  Most of them did not attend church, and they were not ashamed to tell you that.  We would use this question as a spring board for talking about their church history.  Here is what we found:

  • Most clients had a great grandmother that attended church faithfully.
  • 1 in 10 had a parent that attended church.
  • They based their church association with grandma.  They went to church where grandma went.
  • Many had attended vacation bible school or went to church camp.
  • Many had attended a youth group event.
  • Many did not like youth events.
  • Though grandma might have taken them to church, they had no relationship with church or God.
  • Our clients were not upset or offended when talking about church.
  • The term church is an easy, non offensive thing to talk about.
  • They did not see a connection between church and their problems.
  • Most felt Christians were hypocrites, and that was because they had seen people who called themselves Christians live a bad life.

What would you say to God, if He asked, why should I let you into my heaven?

No one was offended or ashamed to say because:

  • I was a good person.
  • I was a good mom.
  • I was nice.
  • I helped people.
  • I went to church (though they didn’t)
  • I read the Bible (when asked they said they didn’t own one)
  • I believe in God I just don’t know what He does for me.

The number one answer was, “I was a good person.”  When asked if they believed in Jesus Christ, they said yes.  When asked if they were saved most would say yes, and would base their salvation on a one time church attendance at a youth group meeting, church camp or vacation Bible school.

The people we worked with were honest, and rough.  They did not play the I need to look socially acceptable middle class game.  Which I am not sure is played anymore.  These people came to us in great need.  Usually within five minutes we would hear stories about drug use, multiple relationships outside of marriage, drinking, abuse, rape, and you name it.

We did not judge their salvation, but we could inspect the fruit.  They were there to get free stuff, and would talk about whatever they needed to, to get free diapers and clothes for their baby.  They wanted relief, and if that meant they needed to talk about God, then so be it.

God was not a part of their lives, and that gave us the opportunity to do Bible studies, pray and speak to them about Christ.  Today many people who attended church a couple times believe they are a good person and will go to heaven one day.  Let’s remember them as we go and worship God.  Let’s pray for them.

Today you might have a small child who will grow up and be one of these unchurched people.  The light you can shine today can have a great impact.  Perhaps they will attend your vacation bible school, youth group or church camp.

Perhaps they are in your life.  Perhaps they are inspecting your fruit and looking to see if this thing called Christianity is any good.  Perhaps they believe that a man named Jesus Christ lived on the earth, and died for our sins.  Perhaps they want to see how He has made an impact in your life.  What are you showing them?

Perhaps they will walk into your ministry this week.  Are you ready for them?  Are you ready to connect, begin a relationship and point them to their greatest need?  After you educate them, feed them, clothe and house them, are you being intentional about sharing the gospel with them?  What are we doing to impact their lives with the truth of their greatest need?  What good is a fed person if their soul is in danger?

Perhaps we will work with them.  Perhaps we need to be who we say we are.  Perhaps this is why we need to be faithful to attend church, be in the Scriptures, and be growing in God’s grace and knowledge.  So when the unchurched ask us about our walk we will be able to talk to them about a flawed walk, but one that strives to be faithful to Jesus Christ.

I love unchurched people.  They are part of my family, are at my work, and in my life.  They reflect who I was before Jesus Christ saved me.  I pray that we can be to them, what others were to me.  Pointing me to my greatest need–Jesus Christ!

For His glory, and because of His grace,

Marcy Pedersen

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