A friend of mine emailed me this question, so I thought I’d share the question and my thoughts here:
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how someone who has been a part of church their whole life and how as a result they don’t really know what it’s like to be “unchurched” (a term I don’t really like). Therefore to reach them we must employ missionary-like tactics. Your thoughts?
Great question and some great thinking going on behind it. You asked the question more from an individual perspective, but I’m going to answer it from a church perspective.
I think we absolutely have to approach our culture with a missions mindset. I see a lot of churches being planted that are for the most part copies of other churches that have been successful. (I like to call them Willowback churches. 🙂 ) No doubt, these churches will have some success, as there is still a portion of the population they will reach. If nothing else, they will be able to draw in those who might move into the community who have attended those types of churches in the past.
However, there are many people who just aren’t interested in going to a church like that. Some of them are people who already love Jesus, and some of them are people who might be curious about him, but these churches seem to be more of a barrier than a bridge to Him. So, churches need to look less at what other churches are doing, and start looking at what is going on around them. I read Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age by Ed Stetzer a few months ago. This was the first (and by far the best) premise of the book. He states that we need to approach our culture as a foreign culture. I agree with him, and I agree with the thinking behind your question.