Recently I ran across a fascinating article titled “Why You Will Most Certainly Fail to Reach Your Secular Friends,” in which the writer made the argument why most non-religious people will stay away from church. For most of us religious folk, our default mode is to view this issue from a religious standpoint, so we would list “sin” or “rebellion against God” as the primary reasons why secular people stay away from church. The beauty of this article is that it addressed the issue from the secular point of view.
The thing that keeps most non-religious people away from church is simply that they couldn’t care less. Rather than open hostility, it’s indifference that keeps many out of church. They’re simply too distracted. The beautiful technology that we love and depend on has created a pandora’s box of distractions that keep our minds from drifting to the eternal. There are too many other fun and fulfilling (at least in the short term) options for people looking for something to do on the weekends. It would probably shock us religious folk to realize just how little non-religious people even think about the issues that are core to us.
So how do you get people to care when they couldn’t care less about God or religion? How can churches begin to make inroads into the rapidly expanding generation of ‘nones’ that don’t identify with any religion?
Here are three steps to move in the right direction:
1). Befriend them. Yesterday I was a call-in guest for the 6 am hour of a Wisconsin Public Radio show (which is hilarious because I live in Mississippi). What was convicting for me was simply how odd it felt for me to engage in a non-religious environment. It’s so easy for Christians to surround ourselves in a religious bubble that we fail to venture outside of it.
Get involved in your community. Find a non-religious group to get plugged into. Help out at the ball field. Do something on a regular basis where you interact with people outside of the religious bubble and begin to cultivate relationships with non-religious people.
2). Be curious. People can spot your agenda a mile away. If your only aim in a relationship is to convert them, then that’s not really a true friendship. Care enough about them as a person to get to know them outside of the religious realm. Find out what makes them tick.
Be curious about why they don’t have any interest in spiritual things. Many times our only interaction with the non-religious world is our fleeting attempts to convert it. Build up enough relational capital so that it holds the weight of the religious conversations you’d like to have down the road. Be curious.
3). Show them what eternal love looks like. Many people couldn’t care less about religion or spiritual issues because they haven’t experienced anything worth investigating. They’re so consumed with temporal things that they have no concept of what the eternal looks like. That’s where acts of sacrificial, eternal love come in. When you show love to others by serving them, caring for them, sacrificing for them, you break through their temporal facade with a glimpse of eternal love, like the blinding sun breaking through a thick fog.
The eternal will always create an appetite for more within the receiver. Once you truly experience eternal love, temporal distractions fail to fully satisfy. So go out and sacrificially serve your non-religious friends. Show them what the eternal looks like. Show them love and whet their appetites for a greater life then they’ve ever experienced.