We know there is a growing percentage of our population nationwide that is unchurched–those who haven’t attended church in the past six months. How does Indiana’s population compare with other parts of the country?
Well, Barna Research just released the results of a ten-year study that indicates that four media areas in Indiana have a significant percentage of unchurched persons. The study shows that 33% of the people living in the Fort Wayne media area are unchurched, 31% in the Indianapolis area, 28% in the South Bend-Elkhart area, and 27% in the Evansville area.
In comparison, New York City is 48% unchurched, Chicago is 39%, and Nashville, TN, is 20%. Of the 117 media areas studied, the San Francisco Bay area has the highest percentage of unchurched at 61%, and the Augusta, GA, Aiken, SC area had the lowest at 13%.
So you may be thinking, “Indiana’s percentages aren’t that bad.” Yet, for most of the country, including right here in Indiana, Jesus words that the “fields are ripe unto the harvest” still apply whether the percentage is 27% or 33%. Our response will likely be that we’re going to have to join them where they are, incarnating the Good News rather than expecting them to first show up at our churches.
It’s all about us churched folk intentionally building relationships with them. One way we can do that is by “blessing” them…
Listen and ask questions
Eat and drink with them
Say prayers for them
Share the Good News when the opportunities arise
So what would happen if all us churched folk took our churches into our neighborhoods, schools, and places of work and began blessing those God regularly puts in our paths. We might just ultimately see those percentages mentioned above go down.
The Indiana Conference also plans to launch 30+ churches by the year 2020 to better reach the unchurched. Perhaps you and your church will be involved in one of these starts. I hope so!
— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development