I get daily email articles from Outreach and they are always good. This one is especially good and timely for us. Thom Rainer is a former pastor who now does surveys and research to help strengthen local churches. I pray you will find it a bit challenging but mostly encouraging! You will notice I added several comments in the margins.
What Non-Christians Really Think about Christians
These surprising insights about what non-Christians think of Christians can profoundly impact your outreach.
One of my greatest joys in research is talking to and listening to those who clearly identify themselves as non-Christians. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not celebrating their absence of faith in Christ. My joy comes from listening to those who don’t believe as I do, so I might be better equipped to witness to them.
Over the past several years, my research teams and I have interviewed thousands of unchurched non-Christians. Among the more interesting insights I gleaned were those where the interviewees shared with me their perspectives of Christians.
In this article, I group the seven most common types of comments in order of frequency. I then follow that representative statement with a direct quote from a non-Christian.
Read these comments and see if you learn some of the lessons I learned.
1. Christians are against more things than they are for.
“It just seems to me Christians are mad at the world and mad at each other. They are so negative, they seem unhappy. I have no desire to be like them and stay upset all the time.” (OUCH!)
2. I would like to develop a friendship with a Christian.
“I’m really interested in what they believe and how they carry out their beliefs. I wish I could find a Christian who would be willing to spend some time with me.” (OUCH AGAIN!)
3. I would like to learn about the Bible from a Christian.
“The Bible really fascinates me, but I don’t want to go to a stuffy and legalistic church to learn about it. I would be nice if a Christian invited me to study the Bible in his home or at a place like Starbucks.”
4. I don’t see much difference in the way Christians live compared to others.
“I really can’t tell what a Christian believes because he doesn’t seem much different than other people I know. The only exception would be Mormons. They really seem to take their beliefs seriously.” (GOD HELP US!)
5. I wish I could learn to be a better husband/wife/dad/mom, etc., from a Christian.
“My wife is threatening to divorce me, and I think she means it this time. My neighbor is a Christian, and he seems to have it together. I am swallowing my pride and asking him to help me.” (SEE THE POWER OF GETTING IT RIGHT?)
6. Some Christians try to act like they have no problems.
“Harriett works in my department. She is one of those Christians who seems to have a mask on. I would respect her more if she didn’t put on such an act. I know better.
7. I wish a Christian would take me to his or her church.
“I really would like to visit a church, but I’m not particularly comfortable going by myself. What is weird is that I am 32 years old, and I’ve never had a Christian invite me to church in my entire life.”
Do you see the pattern? Non-Christians want to interact with Christians. They want to see Christians’ actions match their beliefs. They want Christians to be real.
In one study we conducted, we found only 5 percent of non-Christians are antagonistic toward Christians. It’s time to stop believing the lies we have been told. Jesus said it clearly: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Luke10:2, HCSB).