by Ron Hale
Christians view the church as a place to worship God, to enjoy the fellowship with other believers, and a place to find answers. We see the church as a place of refuge, rest, and relationships. We forget that the secular person may have a feeling of awkwardness, even embarrassment, at entering our stain-glassed buildings. Secular people are ignorant concerning the ways of Christian worship, Bible stories, and the traditional language of the pulpit. This means that an unchurched person can have as much fear at entering one of our church buildings as you would visiting a Muslim Mosque in Detroit by yourself. Secular people view the church through the prism of their experiences, upbringing, and prejudices. Many secular people view the church in one of the following ways. They see the church as a:
The church really doesn’t exist in the world they live. They seldom realize it is there. It goes unseen and unheard, and they are untouched by it.
The church is nice to look it or even think about, but let’s keep it on the shelf for display. They feel the influence of the church should stay inside the building and never seek to convince and convert people on the outside.
When it comes to the church, secular people are saying, “We don’t want the rules, regulations, and restrictions superimposed on or over our lifestyle. Or, we don’t want Christians building large facilities in our neighborhoods, impeding our Sunday morning traffic flow.
The church represents some ancient past whose purpose is extinct and irrelevant in a postmodern world.
The intellectual avant-garde still feel that religion (the church) is the opiate of the people – that it soothes the souls of the under classes and helps them face their tormented lives. In essence, they see the church as a crutch for weak people.
If we are to have any positive impact in touching the lives of secular people, we must learn the spiritual skills of listening, asking key questions, and communicating the gospel in way they can hear, understand, and respond. The following questions can help us start crucial conversations with irreligious people:
*Do you have any kind of spiritual belief?
*Where are you on your spiritual journey?
* Have you ever trusted Jesus to forgive you, or are you still working on that? How far along the way are you?
* To you … who is Jesus?
* If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
* If someone were to ask you, “What is a real Christian?” how would you answer?
* Do you consider yourself a good person? Do you think that’s all it requires to go to heaven?
Key: Learn to share your story (testimony) in a way lost people can hear, understand, and seek to respond to God’s love and grace.