by Terry Scalzitti
If you’re like me, you spend countless hours thinking about creative strategies, systems, and programs that will connect with those that aren’t going to church. We try to think like them, anticipate their likes and dislikes, and with some ideas, we are sure that we have them figured out. This typically leads to disappointment, as our expectation for success is rarely met.
Maybe the reason they aren’t listening, is because we’re speaking the wrong language. When we begin to understand these three basic qualities of those outside the church, we might just change our approach.
Their time is more important to them than church.
To those outside the church, it’s all about where they invest their time. Sunday mornings for them are much better spent at home, with their family or friends, or watching the big game on TV. Why? It’s simply because they don’t know or haven’t seen anything in church that makes it worth their time. If you want to attract the unchurched, ask yourself the question, “What do they need?” “How can we help?” Many times throughout the year, we’ve hosted “Parent Night Out” for the community and have provided free childcare for young families. Why? We know that is a huge need and benefit to young families. When they come in and ask how much do you charge, we say it’s free. When they see that we are simply providing a way to meet a strong need in their life, the church becomes worth checking out.
They believe in causes.
Many have a negative opinion about church because they believe the church does a lot of talking and literally no action. They are tired of hearing about what they are doing wrong, and how we need to love people, when they don’t hear about how the church or if the church is making a difference in their community. What does your church or ministry do tangibly for the community? Are you partnering with other agencies to help a local cause? You’ll be surprised how much respect the unchurched will give you when you help a local need expecting nothing in return.
They want significance.
Those outside the church want to feel they are making a difference in their family, friends, and in their community. They actively look for ways to act and feel significant. Why don’t they do it for the church? They simply don’t see how their skills or passions can possibly fit into the church. I once asked an unchurched successful police officer if he could come in and help our church develop a security plan. His response was “Are you sure you want me?” Six months later, he not only helped develop the plan, but also was serving on the team! I have to remind him to keep his language in check from time to time, but he has found a place to be significant, and is thriving. Identify those in your community that have amazing talent, and give them something significant to do.
When we begin to change our approach, we might be surprised at the results. Change what you need to change to reach those that you need to reach.
Terry is the lead pastor of Ocean View Baptist Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In the few months since his arrival, the church has doubled in size. Known for connecting with all types of audiences, Terry is passionate about reaching an un-churched culture. Previously, Terry was the associate pastor for adult and family ministries at First Baptist Fort Lauderdale. Terry and his team spent eight years transitioning the church to the Orange Strategy. Terry provides leadership training for Camp Kidjam and the Orange Tour. He and his wife, Jennifer, have a son, Connor, and enjoy watching Terry’s beloved Chicago Cubs.