Thursday, January 10, 2008

Church..? NO Thanks!

Survey: Non-attendees find faith outside church
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
A new survey of U.S. adults who don't go to church, even on holidays, finds 72% say "God, a higher or supreme being, actually exists." But just as many (72%) also say the church is "full of hypocrites."... 44% agree with the statement "Christians get on my nerves."

LifeWay Research, the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, based in Nashville, conducted the survey of 1,402 "unchurched" adults last spring and summer. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The survey defines "unchurched" as people who had not attended a religious service in a church, synagogue or mosque at any time in the past six months.

Many of the unchurched are shaky on Christian basics, says LifeWay Research director Ed Stetzer. Just 52% agree on the essential Christian belief that "Jesus died and came back to life." And 61% say the God of the Bible is "no different from the gods or spiritual beings depicted by world religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.," although Buddhist philosophy has no god and Hindus worship many.

Non-churchgoers "lean to a generic god that fits into every imaginable religious system, even when (systems) contradict one another," ...Most of the unchurched (86%) say they believe they can have a "good relationship with God without belonging to a church." And 79% say "Christianity today is more about organized religion than loving God and loving people."

But despite respondents' critical views of organized religion, Stetzer is optimistic. He cites the finding that 78% would "be willing to listen" to someone tell "what he or she believed about Christianity."

They already know believers — 89% of the unchurched have at least one close friend who is Christian, Stetzer noted. And 71% agreed that "believing in Jesus makes a positive difference in a person's life."

Lets go with the good news in this survey. Those folks who have not graced the door of a church in recent times overwhelmingly have a belief in the existence of God, have a good opinion of Jesus and the positive difference he can make in a life. This is not necesarily a hostile audience, and if it is Christ, reconciliation with God and a new life we are marketing we already have tremendous inroads into this target audience.

The bad news, sadly seems to be us, we the body of Christ, colaborators with God, the sent to the world with the command to go tell, the ones with the ministry of reconciliation, have a bit of an image problem. Like the shampoo model with horrendous split ends, the deodorant salesman with a hefty BO, the overwheight promoter of weight loss products, our credibility is somewhat lacking! Most of the unchurched know someone who is a Christian...could that be influencing their perceptions?

"Church is full of hypocrites"!!! don't we know it...we go there! To be fair, if the unchurched avoided malls ,movie theaters, bars and all places populated by hypocrites they would be quite lonely and isolated. We live in a world, where people often do not mean what they say and wear different masks according to the ocassion. "Christians get on my nerves", so do many non Christians, depending on the day and the cycles of the moon, such is the human condition, Yet objectively we know we often fail at being followers of the Christ we claim to serve.

Lord help me to be a better example and help others know the God they already acknowledge! May others, as they see me and those who live the life of faith, recognize in us your presence, your love, hear your words, feel your power and desire to come "to the house of the Lord".



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