4. Pay attention to culture.
I’ve stopped listening to Christian radio. Partially because it’s all just too happy for my taste, but mostly because I want to know what the unchurched world around me is experiencing. Of course, there are limits (let’s not get all “slippery-sloped”), but I know engulfing myself in Christian circles insulates me from the culture I’m trying to reach. We can’t be insulated from the world and reach the world.
I listen to current music. I watch current movies. I watch current television programming. All to a point, and all for a point. Being a student of culture helps leaders understand those participating in the culture — especially those we want to reach.
5. Analyze their demographics, socioeconomics, and lifestyle choices.
All unchurched people are not the same. That’s like suggesting Baptists are the same as Catholics who are just like Methodists. Heck, churches within these denominations are different. The unchurched should not be stereotyped or lumped into large categories. The more you can understand the makeup of your unchurched community, the better you will be able to design experiences, and eventually, a church, that reaches them where they are. And, your church will be positioned to grow continuously.
If you are in a family heavy environment like me, then your programming and church offerings should reflect and appeal to that demographic. If you’re executing ministry in a more urban context, your attempts to reach the unchurched must reflect the demographics of your target.
Same for socioeconomics. An unchurched, white-collar community will be drawn to different churches than a blue-collar community.
From a lifestyle perspective, it’s good to know where the unchurched people in your community are on Sunday. When the church people are at church, where are the unchurched people? If you don’t know, it’s going to be very difficult to reach them.
One last thing: While the unchurched community might be segmented into a demographic, we can never treat them as a target market. Target markets are great for research, but they make for terrible relationships. God changes people, not projects or targets. We can’t empathize with a target market, but we don’t minister to population segments. Evaluate your community in total, but love your community one person at a time, because they are not a project to accomplish, they are people who God loves.
If you aren’t sure how to reach the unchurched in your community, get to know them personally. That’s a great first step. It’s also a great excuse to take up golf or some other activity you’ve been hoping to try!
This article appeared here.