Monday, May 24, 2004

God Help the Unchurched!!!
I've been hearing a lot lately about the unchurched. I didn't realize it then, but growing up my family was unchurched too. I've been thinking about this word the last couple of days, and the term is really starting to bother me.

It seems to me that when you say someone is "unchurched," what you're really saying is that they should be going to church, but aren't. The further assumption is that, naturally, people are better off when they're "churched." I don't know that people are always necessarily better or worse off if they're going to church or not, but it seems to me to be a big assumption either way.

The problem I see is that whether or not someone is "churched" says very little about who they are or where they are on their "journey of faith." We've all known spiritually empty people who are at church every Sunday, and grace-filled people who are rarely there. I believe that thinking about church in this "attending or not" mindset distracts from what the real purpose of a community of faith is. That is, the point is not how many people are on the membership rolls, but is the community a place where people experience the transformative power of Christ's grace? If we create churches that are popular (i.e. well attended), but don't change people, what's the point?

I think that talking about churched vs. unchurched puts the emphasis on numbers, not on transformation. That leads to impersonal environments where people are not valued as individuals who are all loved by God, but rather as statistics who only have value in the quest for "growth." I know that this is somewhat of an exaggeration, but I experienced a church like this in my hometown. It was the reason I stayed away - from church and from God. I felt like I only mattered as a notch on someone's Bible. I found Christ when I found a church that cared about me as a person - not whether I'd been unchurched or not.



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