The single fastest-growing religious group in our culture are those who check the box next to the word ‘none’ on national surveys.
What do they believe—or not believe—and how do we reach this growing mission field right outside our doors?
Noted author and pastor James Emery White leads a growing mega-church that is effectively reaching the un-churched. He has a passion for reaching those who have no previous exposure to the gospel. James shares his research and concerns from his new book The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated.
According to James’ research, a “none” is typically male, considered politically moderate or liberal. He’s not hostile to religious institutions but prefers not to belong to one. This approach to religion and spirituality is held by men and women in every generation – together they make up the second largest religious group in the US, behind Roman Catholics. 1 in 5 adults identify as “Nones,” along with 1 in 3 millennials. James further points to two interesting characteristics of “nones” – they are not atheists, and they are not seeking. In the 90s, there were conversations built around helping “seekers” find Christ. The “nones” of today are no longer looking for God – they have just enough to think they don’t need Him.
How can we engage a group that doesn’t feel the need for Christ? James leads Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and he offers his own approach to the “nones.” Most don’t respond to church advertisements that describe fresh coffee and fun contemporary music. James’ research shows that 82% of them will respond to one startlingly simple thing – a personal invitation to church from a Christian friend.
James also calls Christians to live out their faith in real, tangible ways. Get involved in setting captives free and serving the underprivileged. Live in such a way that a none would look at your life and think, “If there was a Jesus, that’s the kind of thing I think he’d do.”
James Emery White regularly writes for Faith Radio. Read some of his blog posts here.