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Reaching the De-Churched, Part 2
by Tom Goodman
September 27, 2007

There is a vast mission field of adults who have, for various reasons, become church dropouts.  In a recent article in Outreach magazine, Thom Rainer called them the "de-churched."  We need to look for ways to re-engage these folks.

Last week I introduced you to 6 surprises about the de-churched that Rainer discovered.  This week, let's look at what formerly unchurched people said were the top 5 things that got them back into church again.

One of the most underestimated reasons people return to the Church is that someone simply invited them back.  Rainer found that 41% of the formerly churched said that they would return to the local church if a friend or acquaintance invited them, and the likelihood increases the younger a person is:  About 60% of those 18–35 would consider returning to church if someone they knew asked them to come back.  Rainer pointed out:

A simple, yet powerful invitation is all it may take to prompt a homecoming for the dechurched.  Is your church equipping people to invite others back?  When someone strays from the church, friends, and family should be there to encourage him or her to return.

Second, almost a third of the formerly churched mentioned that if they were to return to church, they would want to be part of a local body where they can make a difference.  Rainer observed:
People want to serve and know that they are contributing something significant.  Making new members aware that the bar is set high for their contribution does not deter but rather motivates them to be a part of the local church.

Third, almost half of those who are considering returning to the Church said that they would do so because they feel it will bring them closer to God.

Fourth, people return because they sense a void in their lives.  "Over a third of the de-churched said that they would return to fill the emotional and spiritual gaps they've felt since leaving," Rainer said.

Finally, those returning to a church want to be around those who hold similar values.  Rainer notes:
Almost one-third said they'd want to return to a church in which people held the same moral standards as them -- something to think about if your church is wrestling with how it will stand on moral issues.  A church that compromises in that area only deters anyone who's looking to the church for both high standards and people with similar values.
In Rainer's research with those who used to attend a church but don't at present, he found 62% were open to the idea of returning.  That's promising news.  Don't give up on your friends and family who used to attend someone's church a long time ago.  Your continued prayers and prodding could get them into the life and ministry of Hillcrest.  Our prayer is that they will find and follow Jesus together with us!


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