5 INSIGHTS ABOUT THE UNCHURCHED THAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU

5 insights about Unchurched that May Surprise You

5 insights about Unchurched that May Surprise You

 

By Thom S. Rainer president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter (@ThomRainer) and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer. This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on Dec. 12, 2016.

They aren’t antagonistic. They welcome a conversation with believers. They aren’t staying out of church for the reasons you may think.

They are the unchurched. And because many church leaders and members have such misperceptions about them, churches often fail to reach them, or even attempt to reach them.

In one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on the unchurched, LifeWay Research, in partnership with the Billy Graham Center, surveyed 2,000 unchurched Americans. They defined “unchurched” as someone who has not attended a worship service in the last six months.

One-third of the respondents were nonwhite. Genders were almost equally represented (53 percent male), and almost half have a high school diploma or less.

I want to unpack this massive research more in the future. For now, let’s look at five surprising insights about the unchurched.

1. Most have some church background.

Contrary to some perceptions, the great majority of unchurched have a church background. Almost two-thirds of them (62 percent) went to church regularly as a child.

2. Most quit church because they got out of the habit of going.

For certain, a number of them did leave churches for negative reasons, but that is not true of the majority.

3. One-third have plans to go to church in the future.

Please read that statement carefully. One of 3 unchurched Americans are actually planning to return to church. Is your church actively inviting them?

4. The unchurched are very open to a gospel conversation.

Nearly half (47 percent) would interact freely in such a conversation. Another third (31 percent) would listen actively without participating.

Pause for a moment. Look at those numbers. Almost 8 of 10 unchurched Americans would welcome a gospel conversation. Another 12 percent would discuss it with some discomfort, and only 11 percent would change the subject as soon as possible. We can’t use the poor excuse that the unchurched really aren’t interested in gospel conversations. In reality, church members are more likely not to be interested in initiating gospel conversations.

5. If you invite them, they will come.

About a year ago, I received requests to provide a framework for churches to invite people to church. We called it “Invite Your One.” We are now getting responses from churches that have initiated this ministry, and we are blown away at what God is doing. Among the unchurched, 55 percent said they would attend church if invited by a family member. And 51 percent said they would attend church if invited by a friend or neighbor. These numbers are staggering. The opportunities are incredible.

I have been involved in church research and practice for four decades, a testament to both my passion and elderly status. These data confirm my anecdotal observations that there has never been a more opportune time to connect with the lost and unchurched.

It’s truly an incredible opportunity. But I wonder how many churches will seize this God-given moment.

Read more from Thom Rainer »

Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter (@ThomRainer) and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer. This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on Dec. 12, 2016.

James McCracken: Do Churches Need Apostles?

Do churches need apostles? James McCracken’s answer offers a clue as to why some churches flourish and others don’t.

Some may be wondering, “What is an apostle?” And many have a question about whether or not apostles exist in the modern world. Find answers here.

Larry Miller’s Salvation Testimony

Here’s Larry Miller’s salvation testimony.

I notice people. Luis Palau taught me to pray, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyelids.” A conversation like this is not unusual for me. An adventure awaits every first encounter. And since I snapped his picture, I decided to publish Larry Miller’s salvation testimony.

Larry Miller was sitting on a bench at Walmart. Since I had to wait also, I sidled up to the bench beside him. I told him I was waiting for an oil change.

He didn’t say much at first, but I after conversing a moment or two I told him God had healed me of cancer. That got his attention. We had something in common besides a wait at Walmart. He related that he had prostate cancer in the past and now felt better than he ever.

He and his wife prayed a lot before he underwent radiation. It sounded like he was a believer in Jesus Christ, so I asked him “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?”

That question tripped his trigger. Now I could not get him to stop talking. He told me that it happened about 15 years ago. He had earlier seen his mother suffer and die from cancer. When he saw how much his mother suffered he did not want any part of that. He knew he had to change his life.

He was going to a Quaker church at the time. He decided to sit down and have a talk with the pastor.

During the talk with the pastor he received his Savior Jesus Christ.

He said that conversation about 15 years ago changed his life. He emphasized that he lost a lot of friends because of that decision. “I thought they were my friends, but they weren’t really friends.  They were not really my friends, they were just drinking buddies. Now I got a bunch of new friends. And my life is different. When you receive Christ, your life changes,” Larry asserted.

About this time Larry’s wife arrived. Wait over.

With Larry’s permission I took a picture of him and his wife. “I’m not ashamed of Jesus Christ,” he announced.

“Have you ever led anyone to salvation through Jesus Christ?” I asked. “I’ve tried to.  If we believe it, we’ve got to tell it!

Larry and I shook hands as he wished me a good day. “Praise God, God bless you,” he said as he was going out the Walmart door.

Salvation Like Ketchup–57 Ways to Salvation

Salvation Like Ketchup--57 Ways to Salvation

Salvation Like Ketchup–57 Ways to Salvation

 

Before you label me a heretic, let me be plain: The only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

Many “openings” with Jesus, however are recorded in the Bible. Probably more than 57. So I say, salvation is like ketchup, 57 ways to salvation. And remember, all the ways start and end with Jesus.

The Scriptures show numerous ways to become “saved.” We’ll get to the implications of this in a moment. But for starters, God is Bigger than we know. Bigger than our traditions, Bigger than our experience. He is a God filled with wonder and mystery. Get ready for some surprises.

Let’s examine the Bible together. Each should be read in context.

1 John 5:13 Believe in the name of the Son of God
1 John 4:15 Confess that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 4:16-17 Know and believe God’s love for us
1 John 4:7 Love one another with God’s love
Ephesians 2:8-10 Saved by grace through faith
Galatians 3:6 Believe God (as did Abraham)
John 3:36 Believe and obey the Son
John 1:12-13 Receive [Jesus]
John 1:41 Find the Messiah (as did Andrew)
John 1:43 Follow Jesus (as did Philip)
John 2:23, 4:48, 11:45 Beholding Jesus’ signs leads to belief in Him
John 3:3 Be born again (or born anew)
John 3:6 Be born of water and the Spirit
John 4:10-14 Drink of Jesus’ living water
John 4:42 Hear and know that Jesus is the Savior of the world
John 5:24 Hear Jesus’ word and believe Him who sent Him
John 6:35-37 Come to Jesus
John 6:51 Eat the Bread of Life (Jesus)
John 6:54 Eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood
John 8:51 Keep Jesus’ word
John 9:35-38 Believe in the Son of Man
John 10:9 Enter through the door (Jesus)
John 7:27-28 Hear Jesus voice and follow Him
John 11:25-27 Live and believe in Jesus
John 12:36 Believe in the light in order to become sons of light
John 14:6 Accept Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life
Matthew 26:27-28 Heart participation in the New Covenant
Luke 23:39-43 Request Jesus remember him when He comes in His kingdom
1 Peter 1:3 Born again according to God’s great mercy
1 Peter 1:23 Born again through the imperishable seed, the preached word of God
1 Peter 1:9 Salvation obtained as an outcome of personal faith
1 Peter 3:21 Baptism now saves you (An appeal to God for a good conscience)
Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
Acts 3:19 Repent and return
Acts 8:12 Believe the good news about the kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ
Acts 8:35-37 Believe with all heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God
Acts 13:38-39 Forgiveness of sins through Jesus; believers are freed from all things
James 1:18 By the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth
James 2:24 by works*
Revelation 3:20 Hear Jesus’ voice and open the door
Romans 3:24, 28 A gift by grace through faith
Romans 6:23 Free gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
Romans 10:9-10 Confess Jesus is Lord and believe in heart God raised Him from the dead
Romans 10:13 Call on the name of the Lord
Luke 18:10-14 By calling on God’s mercy
Luke 24-13-35 An Eucharistic “eye-opening” experience with Jesus
Matthew 27:54 Saw the earthquake and other crucifixion events (as did the centurion and those with him)

In addition, Jesus told stories designed to lead people into salvation:
Seed sown in good soil (Matt 13:23ff), leaven (Mat 12:33), treasure (12:44), pearls (12:45), dragnet (Matt 12:47ff).

*I have purposely not commented on the verses in order to let the Scriptures speak for themselves. I will comment on James 2:24, however because this verse has caused confusion in some minds.

In English some words have more than one meaning. Think “love.” Love can mean romantic love or it can mean something like, “I love ice cream.” Every English speaker understands the difference.

The same in Greek, the language of the New Testament. Paul uses the word dikaiosune meaning “to declare a sinner righteous in God’s sight.” James uses the same word with a different meaning. In the book of James the meaning is “to vindicate” or “to verify righteousness.” Paul uses the word for the event of justification; James uses the word to prove or verify the justification that has already taken place. Paul uses the word referring to the event of Genesis 15; James uses the word as proof of faith (the sacrifice of Isaac), an event that happened about 30 years later (Genesis 22).

The reader can add other Scriptures showing additional salvation truths and experiences. This compilation shows, at the very least, a remarkable variety of salvation experiences and the ways people “get saved.” That’s why I say, Salvation Like Ketchup–57 Ways to Salvation.

Acknowledging the various Biblical expressions (“openings”) of salvation encounters with Jesus prepares us for revival. Unity is important for God’s next great move on earth. We need to become broad enough to accept various forms of saving encounters with Christ. Baptists and other evangelicals have a common approach to salvation that differs from Lutherans and other confessional denominations. Faith in Jesus Christ is the sole denominator. Are you broad enough — Biblical enough — to accept the fact that many people are genuinely saved, yet have a different faith encounter with Christ?

A second implication of “Salvation is like Ketchup–57 Varieties to Salvation” is simply this: it will keep us humble. Let the truth sink in. Let it settle.  This understanding will cut away criticism. Judgment will be released.  “Salvation is like Ketchup–57 Varieties to Salvation” allows God to become very intimate in the hour(s) of salvation. He tenderly visits each individual in each situation to gently grasp the heart of each person. Salvation is “knowing” the only true God and Jesus Christ who send Him (John 17:3).

Another implication of the “Salvation is like Ketchup–57 Varieties to Salvation” is practical and liberating. It will help the church to witness more freely. There are no cookie-cutter relationships. No formulas. On earth, Jesus used an exciting array of approaches. He still does today. Become like Jesus and allow others to do the same. There’s liberty in evangelism! You use your way to witness, I use mine and, the third guy uses his. Witness with love and you can’t go wrong! 57 varieties, and they’re all good when they lead a man to eternal salvation!

Natural Healing vs Instant Miracle Healing

Natural Healing vs Instant Miracle Healing

Natural Healing vs Instant Miracle Healing

Publisher’s note: My wonderful wife Kari is a faithful witness to my natural healing vs instant miracle healing. She saw every bit of my suffering and trial through cancer. She held my hand when I could barely walk. She read to me when I could not read. She fought the fight of life with me that God would restore my life. Hear her report as we pass on what we have learned. We praise God together for natural as well as spiritual healing.

Natural Healing vs Instant Miracle Healing

Mark has been teaching a series about insights into healing for our adult Bible class, especially as it relates to natural healing vs instant miracle healing. When I read Revelation 22 for my morning devotions, the fact that the leaves of the tree (of life) were for the healing of the nations (verse 2), it stood out to me.

It dawned on me that God provided natural healing from the beginning of creation. Genesis 2:9  …the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The only tree forbidden to be eaten was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That means that initially, God wanted them to eat from the tree of life and be healthy. Revelations 22:2 explains that the leaves of the tree of life were for the healing [health]of the nations.

From the very beginning, God’s design was for natural health/healing with plants. Of course, all this changed. In Genesis 3:22-24, He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every directions, to guard the way to the tree of life. It shows that even before Christ’s death on the cross where His stripes made us whole, God’s desire was to provide a way of health and healing for us.

We live in marvelous times because God is restoring the truth of natural healing. (Just for the record, we are not vegetarians and we also eat meat.) While this post focuses on natural healing, we also believe firmly in spiritual healing. On Jan 15, 2012 I felt the Lord whisper to me, “I will heal your husband — soon.” Several supernatural encounters with God followed.

Natural Healing vs Instant Miracle Healing: What I have Seen

I have personally witnessed Mark’s amazing recovery from stage 4 inoperable cancer. When 14 rounds of chemo did not succeed in healing cancer or keeping it away, God led us to seek out natural cures. To this day, Mark takes no medicine but is careful to eat a natural anti-cancer diet.

Two of the most effective things he does every day is drink Essiac Tea and the Budwig Protocol. Essiac Tea is a Canadian Ojibwa tribe concoction consisting of four plants: Burdock, Slippery Elm, Sheep Sorrel and Turkish Rhubarb root. The recipe is easily found online. This “Tea of Life” is responsible on its own for curing many cases of cancer.

The Budwig Protocol is also natural and is made from only two ingredients: cottage cheese and flax oil. Mixed together in proper proportions, allowed to rest a few minutes and then blended on a high speed in a blender, this mixture forces oxygen into cells, killing the cancer in those cells. This recipe is also freely available online.

I want to repeat. We truly live in marvelous times!

My Own Story of Natural Healing vs Instant Miracle Healing

I also have my own story of natural plant healing. As a child, I had reoccurring rheumatic fever, once spending three months in bed with very achy legs, missing school and having home doctor visits. I remember some friends of my parents telling them, “Give her alfalfa tablets!” Well, my situation was so desperate my parents were willing to try almost anything, so they gave me alfalfa tablets. I still remember those huge things that yes, smelled every bit like alfalfa. I recovered and have been healthy ever since!

Recently, I had to replace my lost eyeglasses. When filling out the health forms at the eye doctor, the receptionist said, “Kari, if there’s not enough room to list your meds, you can give me a list and I’ll copy it off and staple it onto the page.” I looked at her and chuckled, “Well, I take [only] Vitamin C!” “You’re lucky!” She replied.

So, I say, “Thank you, Jesus for not only providing healing on the cross but also natural healing from the leaves of the tree. You desire that we live in divine health!”

Does Chicken Evangelism Work?

Does Chicken Evangelism Work?

Does Chicken Evangelism Work?

Publisher’s note: Does chicken evangelism work? Read the following letter from Benjamin in the Czech Republic and decide for yourself. The letter is reprinted just the way Benjamin wrote it with only minor redactions. Chicken evangelism means “share Christ before you chicken out.”

Good day,

I’am going well through.

I’am working at ecological junkyard which is both hardwork both service for mankind. That also provides some better income as well. There are two christians from east russian-like culture to cooperate with. So it’s funny because I’am the only czech guy ever able to go well with them. Their mentality is friendly but explosive so I got lots of opportunities to challange my christian’s social life’s. Tolerance and friendship became huge issues to practice and even to teach by the way.

I had a few highlights as a God’s servant.  Those days my prayers asks for longevity and unconditioned love. As God leads really well through daily life. Anyway for sake of Your support and ferilizatipn of my life by God’s will and testment [testimony], I would share what is even better to hide.

I have saved one guy from heavy drugs addiction, helped him to achive work both education final exams. I shared a room and food with him for a month when he had no roof over head. So far he is living with family he wasn’t able to stand, he is having friends now and as we see each other sometimes I got testment’s words [reprimands] from him few times when I wasn’t faithfull.

I’am staying with [my] family as they like so, at least for now. [My] Brothers are becoming a strong men. And about gift of tonques it’s awesome, I would say godlike procedure.

Have a good time, share the love.

brother in faith,

Benjamin

By the way I got no church to visit those days [ . . . ] but as I can’t stop it [change the situation], there is God’s kingdom rising on my faith. We built up huge faith’s society with my friends.

I would like no sins I’am handling that friendship with the God’s love so it’s clear for joy and happines.

Publishers’s concluding notes: Does chicken evangelism work to make disciples? Not always. But here is an example of a time when it does work. When Jesus Christ enters a man through faith, He works from inside. He promises, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” Hebrews 12:5).

I led someone to Christ! Submitted by Linda

I led someone to Christ! (New story submission from website)

 

Publisher’s note for “I led someone to Christ.” Thanks to you, Linda, for telling your story. This is a great example of Chicken Evangelism. Linda is sensitive to the Holy Spirit. And by the way, the photo above is not of Linda and the one whe led to Christ.

While on a retreat at a local Christian Conference Center the Lord allowed me to pray for a member of their kitchen staff. I homed in on her because the Spirit of the Lord revealed to me that she was carrying a heaviness in her spirit and in her sadness she was just going through the motions. She related to us how three family members very close to her had died in less than a years time and that she had not recovered from these losses.

The lady agreed to let me and two of my companions pray for her. I then asked her if she would like to receive Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, to which she also agreed. Leading her through the sinner’s prayer after having quoted to Her Romans 10: 8-10 gave me great joy as the heaviness seemed to lift from her countenance.  I quickly understood that another soul had joined the ranks of the redeemed of the Lord!

Dear John McCain

John McCain Brain Cancer

John McCain Brain Cancer

Dear John McCain,

I heard you have brain cancer and that you are taking chemotherapy treatments. God bless you and may you soon recover. You became a hero to me during your days of captivity in Viet Nam.

I too had cancer – the worst kind, stage four inoperable cancer. I write you because I had a pastor friend with cancer similar to yours. If I had known then what I know now, I might have been able to save him. I didn’t know how to help him, so I lost him. I don’t want to remain silent with you now.

Your situation is undoubtedly different from mine. I took chemo, got better, and thought I was cured. But after 30 days the cancer came roaring back with a vengeance. I nearly died. The doctor gave me a 10% chance to survive. I took more chemo, but realized that if I were to survive, I’d have to find something beyond conventional medicine.

Many well-meaning people offered me advice – advice that I didn’t need and didn’t ask for. I do not want to do that with you. I simply ask, “What can I do to help?”

If you wish, I could send you a copy of my book Answer for Cancer: 9 Keys. But I won’t send it unless you ask. Alternatively, you can get it directly from Amazon.

Please take heart. I am well today because of the keys in the book. Nobody needs to die from cancer anymore. There’s hope. Cancer is not a death sentence.

One of the keys that helped me was Christian meditation. While I was meditating on a Bible passage, God’s presence came over me in such a way that I knew I was healed. I did other natural things too.

I like to say, “I’m not in remission, I’m on a mission — a mission to see many people freed from cancer.

I pray for your quick recovery. May God bless you.

Sincerely,

Mark

What is the Cardinal Sin?

What is the worst sin?

What is the Worst Sin?

The Cardinal Sin is . . . ?

What is the cardinal sin in your opinion?

Murder? Homosexuality? Adultery? Greed? Or could it be pride? Or arrogance? Blasphemy? Could the worst sin be hypocrisy?

Before you continue, please stop and consider. What is the worst sin according to the Bible?

While there is no single verse that says, “The greatest sin is . . ,” the Bible makes it clear one sin, and only this one, stands out beyond all others. What is it?

The sin of unbelief is the cardinal sin. No other sin sends a man to hell.

I have led murderers to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Greedy people, homosexuals, robbers, hypocrites, impure people, go to heaven when they put genuine faith in Jesus. According to Ephesians 5:6 and other Scriptures, these and other impure people go to heaven through faith in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus for us. They, however, have no inheritance when they get there. But inheritance is a subject for another time.

I know some well-meaning and generally righteous Christians will exclude lesbians, the immoral, and other impure believers from salvation, but I choose to spread the grace of God. If only “pure” people, that is unmixed, go to heaven, then Jesus would be the only human there. Be honest, we all have some mixture, don’t we?

There is only one sin that merits eternal judgment: unbelief. The cardinal sin is refusal to believe God by rejecting His offer of the gift of eternal life. The Bible says God justifies the ungodly (declares righteous in His sight) when he puts his faith into Jesus (Romans 4:5). And again, we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law (Romans 3:28).  [Unrighteous] Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Galatians 3:6).

I do not condone or minimize sin. However, the only sin that is not forgiven is the sin of unbelief. All other sins are forgiven when a person accepts by faith Christ’s sacrifice. (I understand Jesus’ warning regarding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to be a willful, determined rejection of the person and work of the Holy Spirit.)

Since unbelief is the one sin that is so important to God, what are the practical implications for us who do believe God?

What are the personal results of faith?

Eternal salvation, a life with Jesus, is the greatest benefit. In addition,

People of faith are happier than non-believers.

People of faith are healthier than unbelievers.

People of faith have better marriages, have more satisfying sexual relationships, and make more money on average than unbelievers.

All this according to various researchers.

 

What are the results of faith for society?

We who believe God are learning to give ourselves to prayer for revival. The grace of God in revivals sweeps many unsaved into the saving arms of Jesus. It has happened in past revivals and it will happen again as we seek God for it.

We who believe God are now persuading unsaved friends, relatives and strangers to consider Jesus as Savior. How can anyone who believes what Jesus said about heaven and hell not give the good news? The news that Jesus died for our sins, rose from the dead and offers a free gift of eternal salvation through faith in Him!

We who believe God are joining a life-giving church and becoming faithful members of it. We will do everything possible to make our church shine as a light in the community. We guard and protect our church and its people, knowing that our church is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 2:15).

We who believe God are learning to humble ourselves and pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways. We are giving ourselves to these activities, expecting God will hear our prayer, forgive our sin and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:17) just as He promised.

We admit we cannot pull this off on our own. We need the Holy Spirit to work His motivation and energy inside us.

Let me share two things that are helping me. One is to pray with somebody else about revival. I pay weekly with a likeminded man named Ken. The other thing that helps is a little app from the Family Leadership Council in Iowa. A bell rings on my phone at 7:14 each morning and again at 7:14 each evening to remind me to humble myself and pray. You can get the app here.

The cardinal sin in unbelief. The cardinal virtue is faith, active faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:5f). God has promised to heal our land as we actively believe Him to do it.

Vitamin Mastery Meets Church Health Crisis

Alarm Bells Are Ringing! The nation’s health crisis needs attention. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ must take leadership because the church is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

Are you on any prescription medications? For some, prescriptions may be necessary, For many, however, some due diligence and research into vitamins and minerals could bring relief from medications. Vitamin Mastery is designed to help bring the needed info and liberty to optimize health without drugs.

Here’s the advert: The web’s BIGGEST EVER teaching event on Vitamins and Disease
is FREE and ONLINE from April 5th to 11th 2018.

Here is the fact: VITAMIN MASTERY is a collection of 65 teaching videos and interviews on Vitamins and Supplements. Find out what you and your family need to know RIGHT NOW.

Here’s the link https://vitaminmastery.com/. Yes, you’ll need to register and give your email.

Vitamins and supplements became crucial for me as I fought to overcome cancer. I pass this info on with the hope it will free God’s ministers into more energy and better health. Vitamins can free from lethargy and help us live longer. I get no money from this series. I only hope it can help. After all, Dead Pastors Don’t Win Souls.