In the Fall edition of Leadership Journal, it reported on a new national survey that identifies five kinds of Christians. Active Christians (19%), Professing Christians (20%), Liturgical Christians (16%), Private Christians (24%), and Cultural Christians (21%). In this article, Helen Lee draws some conclusions that many of us may already intuitively know but we may not know what to do about it. She says that: 1) the local church is no longer considered the only outlet for spiritual growth; and 2) churches must develop relational- and community-oriented outreach.
Many young people in their 20s to 40s feel that faith is relevant but church is not. They see God as important but they do not find their church experience relevant. We are definitely not seeing professing, private, and cultural Christians busting through the doors of our traditional churches. So where are they? They’re at home…maybe surfing the internet? or walking around with their iPods?… but are they getting spiritually fed through technology? People in this hi-tech age can easily access Christian teaching and music through the Internet or TV just as easily as getting their feed for other personal interests in music. It kind of makes traditional church seem old fashioned and outdated. Is traditional church for everyone? Certainly not. Christians who are used to doing church the traditional way might blame the hi-tech age for privatizing people’s expression of faith and, therefore, they are not going to church. However, I think this copout claim is just an excuse. It is as far away from the truth as it can get. We need to use technology to reach the unreached people in our postmodern society. Technology is here to stay; it will advance even faster so we may as well use it to its highest potential for the sake of seeing the reign of God spread over the entire world.
Sure Christianity is supposed to be relational and not a do-it-yourself kind of religion. Technology is still inadequate to do this. Christians need to interact with other Christians in a loving community. But what if the community disappoints them and seems irrelevant in their day-to-day lives? They are telling us the truth when they say that it’s boring and a waste of their time. Many self-professed cultural and private Christians have decided that church is not relevant to them and so it’s not for them. As a result, they will either stop going to church or they will go on a very irregular basis. Why should people waste a Sunday morning sitting in church when they could be spending their time to relax and wind down after a busy week? What is so good about church that they should attend your church on Sunday mornings? Why do we ignore what they are telling us? Churches ignore this to their own peril. But if your church is only serving the older generation who are “Active Christians” and you’re happy and content about that, then what I’ve said here in this post is irrelevant to you. But if your church wants to reach out to the unchurched who are either Professing, Private, or Cultural Christians, then we need to build relationships with them so that we might have the opportunity to introduce Christ to them.
Many Christians today are saying that we need a new paradigm in missions. What is this new paradigm? This new paradigm is actually an old paradigm. It is a return to the basics. We need to go back to building relationships with the unchurched people so that we can we can reintroduce them to Jesus.