12 Lessons We Learn From People Who Don’t Go To Church

When is the last time you truly listened to a visitor of your church?  I think we can learn much from them.  Yesterday, I posted a blog that was an interview of my two unchurched nieces after they attended a recent service.  You can read that post here.

Here are the key applications that church leaders can take from their statements.

  1. Relationships Are The Key Ingredient In Reaching The Unchurched – They were excited to be going (to church) “because it was with us”.  Without a doubt the best way to get visitors to your church is to have their friends and family invite them.   
  2. Competing Voices – They were concerned about how the service was going to conflict with their already scheduled Bo Burnham comedy concert.  All unchurched individuals will have competing voices – concerts, sports activities, hobbies, the newspaper, sleep, etc….
  3. No Fear – They were not nervous about going to church.  I have always taught that visitors were nervous about going to church.  I am learning this is no longer the case.
  4. AffinityThey “were comfortable because kids their age were going to be there.”  Does your church look like your community?
  5. First Impressions – They will know “in the first 5-10 minutes if they will love it.”  Your hospitality team and opening song must be done with excellence.
  6. Diversity – They noticed “how many white people were there.”  Multi-cultural ministries have a greater opportunity to impact their communities.
  7. Kindness – They noticed “how nice people were when they went to the bathroom.”  They will know us by our love.  Enough said.
  8. Insider Information – “It was short and sweet getting into the music.”  Let me interpret this – little to no announcements.  Announcements answer questions visitors are not asking.
  9. The Pastor – They liked the pastor.  ”He was cool and someone you could open up to.”  The #1 reason people return to a church is because of the pastor.
  10. Trust – “You shouldn’t take what people say as fact.”  They didn’t agree “with the fact that everyone thinks what the preacher says is true.”  Unchurched people no longer trust someone just because he/she is the pastor. 
  11. Life Change Is A Process – “There is truth in something everyone says.  If you’re living for something that you feel, there must be truth in there somewhere.”  The unchurched will normally not experience transformation during their first visit.  Changing someone’s world view takes time. 
  12. They Are Watching Everything, Including You – My youngest niece watches things – “specifically body language.”   A girl “next to her was writing down everything.  This was strange.”   Visitors are watching and paying attention to everything. 

That last one made me think the most.  We need to keep unchurched people tuned in and watching us as long as possible.  Because if they watch us long enough, maybe they will see the love of God.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

8 Responses to “12 Lessons We Learn From People Who Don’t Go To Church”

  1. I plan to print this out and bring it to the next church board meeting. Our church is dying and we need ideas for revitalization.

    • I hope they help. As I mentioned in my post prior to that one, those thoughts flowed from when I took my unchurched neices to an evening service. Some of their thoughts were quite eye opening. I’ll be praying for your church and the next board meeting. If I could ever be of value to your leadership team, please let me know.

  2. You state, “The #1 reason people return to a church is because of the pastor.”

    Would you happen to have a source for this? I recently read that people are as likely to join a group because of its followers as they are to join because of its leaders.

    • Michael,

      Great question. There was a Barna study done in the 90s that stated 94% of people return to a church because of the pastor. What’s interesting about that stat is that a separate study showed 94% of people know in the first 12 minutes if they are returning to a church or not. Most times, there is not a pastor in the first 12 minutes. This is the best statistical data ever that the people are a reflection of the pastor.

      Hope that helps. Also, thank for the comments. I hope you keep reading and commenting in the future.

      Merry Christmas,

  3. The most important point that determines whether I will come to a particular church is how the pastor and people deal with gender issues. If the pastor and the people adopt the 5th century point of view on gender issues, I will not wait until the preaching finished to walk out the door.

  4. Danny Glover – Brian, it is amazing to me that the 12 things listed have been the same for several years. Shows that the unchurched today aren’t much different from my experience as an unchurched person in 1974!


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