Researcher: Unique Offer of 'God's Presence' Draws the Non-Churched

by Allie Martin

(AgapePress) - A California-based researcher says churches need to do a better job of understanding the unchurched and how to reach them.

In his new book Grow Your Church From the Outside In, George Barna features research gathered from interviews with thousands of unchurched people. Barna says many do not attend church because they feel they would not have as much control of their lives.

"Churches are high-control institutions," Barna says, "so we've got to think about ways to attract that large group of tens of millions of unchurched people who don't want to give up control of everything in their lives right off the bat, as many churches would expect them to do."

Barna says his research also discovered that churches do not need to water down the gospel in order to attract the unchurched. In fact, he says, too many churches have lost their focus when it comes to reaching the unchurched. He says "seeker friendly" services do not attract the unchurched. Instead, he says, the unchurched are seeking God's presence.

"The one thing that the local church can provide that no other social institution does is the tangible, palpable presence of God," Barna says. "So trying to make church the lowest common denominator really is not the issue here.

"Trying to help people understand who God is, and ushering them into His presence ... that's what we need to be aiming at," he says.

The researcher says that needs to be done in a way that gets people's attention and stirs a desire in their hearts to want more of it, even if they do not fully understand what it means to be in God's presence. Barna also says churches need to do a better job of making God's Word relevant to the everyday lives of the unchurched.

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