As the church, we have often come to the foregone conclusion that people are just not interested in being a part of the church any longer. Maybe part of that statement is true. Maybe people who are searching for a faith community are looking for a different kind of church community than we often offer.

In a recent podcast David Kinnaman, President of the Barna Group, offered these insightful statistics that might surprise some:

 

  • 44% of Americans are more open to God today than they were before the pandemic
  • 60% of Gen Zers are more interested in God today than before the pandemic
  • 84% of Americans are spiritually open in some way

 

While some statistics suggest the country is growing more and more unchurched, these are curious numbers. Have statisticians been asking the wrong questions to accurately measure people’s spiritual journey? Or, does it boil down to the church’s relevance in culture when the stats are taken? Have people always been more spiritual than religious, but the sense of cultural obligation to attend church was far greater in decades past?

In this same podcast, Kinnaman also notes the vast amount of digital content that is now at everyone’s fingertips. Add this to the world being opened up to people through the ability to travel more freely for expanding experiences and exposure to more diverse cultures. The enormous quantity of data, voices, influence, experiences, diversity, and change people encounter at earlier ages with rapid speed is mind-blowing.

What most people are seeking is community. They are searching to make sense of their life, understand their purpose, and to make an impact. If the church is only delivering more content, the church is only adding to the overwhelming intake that people are trying to make sense of. If the church further complicates the situation by asking for a time investment without any foreseen purpose or a dollar investment without impact, it’s a clear miss for those searching.

Rather than deliver more information and make more demands that don’t seem to connect, what if the church instead became spiritual road guides for those seeking community and open to God? What if the church began to train their existing disciples as spiritual road guides to help those who are new on their spiritual journey to discover their own spiritual map? These road guides would help these new disciples discover their spiritual gifts, passions, and ultimately how they feel called to serve God and their community. Along this discovery journey together, the road guides would help the new disciples explore their faith and spiritual disciplines. This would occur in a natural, organic fashion at the pace of the personal preference of the disciples for their mapping and traveling. This sounds much like the method Jesus used with His disciples, doesn’t it?

If your church were to shift into more of this kind of disciple-making method, how effective do you think your church might be at reaching more people? What changes would need to occur for this method to exist in your church? What would need to stop?  What would the church gain? What would be your first step to start this new journey?