Friday, January 8, 2010

5 reasons the unchurched do not believe

5 reasons the unchurched do not believe:
1. Cultural Influence
2. Intellectual
3. Life Choices
4. Oppression
5. Bad Experiences

One of the “new” skills we Christians, and church planters particularly, need to learn is the art of spiritual diagnosis. Like a doctor learns to diagnose illnesses from the symptoms and words of patients we can learn to diagnose the reasons why the unchurched around us do not believe.

The situation we face today is that almost every unchurched person (someone with no significant experience with a community of God followers) is unchurched by choice. They have already made a decision not to be a Christian. Sometimes that decision was made by default with little thought put into it. Other times they have a carefully thought out rationale.

This means we’re working with second decision people. It’s a more difficult prospect to help people make a positive decision about something they have already decided against then it is to help people make a first decision. It makes sense, then, before we try to persuade someone who is not a believer about the validity of belief in God and Jesus that we ought to understand why they have chosen not to believe in the first place.

When we strike up conversations with people about faith in God and the claims of Jesus here are the five big reasons people choose not to believe:

1.              Cultural influence. Western cultural is de-Christianizing. The tide is moving against Christian belief. That’s why Niki Gumbel’s introduction video to the Alpha Course is titled “Christianity: Boring,, Untrue or Irrelevant.” The unchurched around us live in a culture that promotes and rewards unbelief.
2.              Intellectual. Evolution is obviously true and stamped with approval by science—isn’t it? Many people find the intellectual claims of science and philosophy overwhelming to faith. These intellectual claims cause a “kink in their think” when it comes to faith.
3.              Life Choices. People enjoy the claims of “life freedom” Satan throws at us. Life styles and behaviors driven by human drives undisciplined by godliness feel good. Sometimes belief is simply drowned out by “what I want to do.”
4.              Oppression. This is a tough reason. Sometimes people do not believe because the situations of life, the oppressions of others, or personal drives hold faith captive. Life oppression may come from systemic, social issues, such as poverty, that harden some people against faith. Walter Wink associated demonic influences with social systems. Others may come from family systems with generational oppression. Domestic violence is often passed down generationally. Dependency and addiction issues (drugs, alcohol, sex) or mental illnesses based on personality, chemical or other internal states over which the individual has little or no control may bind people in situations that overwhelm faith.
5.              Bad experiences. I usually consider these bad experiences with Christians. Unbelievers are often able to tell a story about how they wer abused by a believer “in the name of Jesus.” A bad experience can also be some life tragedy in which faith in God no longer makes sense.

Before you launch into a spiel about why someone should believe in Jesus, first listen to them to discover why they do not believe in the first place.

1 comment:

Silas Shotwell said...

Very helpful. I notice on Facebook profiles that most of my friends list their beliefs as "Christian" or "Church of Christ." But I see some young friends and even family who list themselves as "atheist." At first that hurt me, but now it intrigues me. I have to consider why a young person of 18 or even 14 would describe themselves that way. The more I understand them, the more likely I am to help them.