Were You the Unchurched?

For a variety of reasons, I am reading Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them by Thom S. Rainer. I am not recommending the book, but I am simply telling you that I am reading it.

The book offers insight as to why some people started to attend a church. Have you ever been “unchurched”? What drew you to a church?

6 thoughts on “Were You the Unchurched?

  1. I was unchurched for a time when my family split up and my ex left town. I was ashamed to go back to the church we had attended, especially since we had been cohabitating and everybody there thought we were married. When I DID go back to a church, it was in a conversion to Catholicism.

  2. Joel:

    That’s a powerful story of the Grace of God. I know you didn’t elaborate much, but I always feel for the people who get a divorce or have a bad family situation, and leave the Church forever. I thank God that He has brought you Home!

    I left the Church for a little while, in high school, and my first couple years of college. (I was raised in a Fundamentalist church) I thought I could just rely on my “personal relationship with Christ” to see me through. Yet, I continually felt something tugging at me. I felt as though I was missing something big. That’s when I found the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

    Praise be to God for His everflowing Grace and His Holy Spirit, who goes after the Lost.


  3. Having been raised by a sometimes-Unitarian father and a sometimes-Southern Baptist mother, I only rarely visited a church while growing up (and even then, only when invited by the family of a friend).

    However, I was in my first year of law school when my first child was born. The magnitude of that gift overwhelmed my previous desire to remain aloof from God, and my agnosticism crumbled.

    Having realized that God did indeed exist (this is the short-version, you’ll have to forgive me for condensing it), I began to ask myself which religion was true: was God the God of Buddhism, the God of Islam, the God of Christianity – Who was He?

    That question was satisfied for me one day when I stopped to think about the martyrdom of the apostles, and it came to me that Christ’s own disciples went gladly to their deaths rather than renounce their witness of Him. You just don’t die for a lie. And so I became a proto-Christian.

    Which opened yet another question: which one of these 40,000 Christian sects and denominations is the “true” Church? The answer to that last question gradually became apparent to me as I went through my Bible; i.e., which is the only Church which takes seriously Christ’s authority to hear and absolve sin? Which Church takes the passage “this is My Body” literally? Which Church still believes marriage to indissoluable, and still teaches the same doctrine it always did?

    But the key to my conversion, the thing which turned me from a man who could count on his fingers the number of times he’d been inside a Church, to an every-Sunday-no-exceptions attender, was the day that I asked myself: “Which one of these Christian churces has been around since 33 A.D.?”

    That was in 1995; the thought of missing Sunday Mass is almost horrifying to me now. (I don’t even like to go camping on weekends, truth be told.) Today, my wife and I attend a Latin Mass with our four young children at least once a week and on holy days of obligation. My eldest son, who’s now 9 years old and who was the “gift from God” that I spoke of above, is an altar boy who is learning the old rite, and who has introduced to his parochial school classmates such novel practices as wearing the brown scapular and regular confession, and receiving Holy Communion only on the tongue.

    Life is good. God is great. AMDG

  4. Thanks for sharing your story, FBC. Interesting question about which is the true church. Lutherans believe that the true church is hidden and that there are true Christians within all denominations (although, of course, fewer in some than others). I know Catholics identify the true church with the Catholic Church. Thanks again for your story.


  5. I grew up atheist. I loved to read, especially mythology, so I knew plenty of Bible stories. I never challenged Christianity in its integrity, just that it was valid. But I didn’t really know what its beliefs were, and when I did start going to church, the girl I sat next to complained “didn’t Luke teach you anything?” when I wasn’t able to figure out the hymnal. I guess that means I was “unchurched,” but not “uncultured.”

    When I was 17, I was starting to feel bad for the things I had done, and knew that man was inherently evil. My friend Luke offered to read to me some Bible verses. I let him, but I don’t think I heard a thing. He and his mom took me to church (LCMS) the next day. During the Psalmody (103, I think), I realized that God had been helping and protecting me my whole life. I don’t know when I understood that Jesus had died for my sins, but I still think that that is when I was saved. My worldview had changed, etc.

    I don’t know what that book says about someone like me, but it is my pride and joy to be able to say the Holy Spirit convicted me of sin and then showed me my Savior, that I was saved by the liturgy, and that I came in like a child and have no clue when I learned what.

  6. I am currently “unchurched” – sort of – in that I don’t go to a church building to gather with other believers in the traditional sense. I do, however participate in a Sunday Night Gathering which I find more along the lines of what I am looking for in “church”.
    I also was “unchurched” for about 5 years while I was attending college. I really liked not going to church, and when I did re enter the “church mainstream” so to speak, it was not particularly easy for me. “Churchy” people didn’t really know what to do with a single/walking wounded/worldly/relationally retarded stranger, and I really didn’t know how to relate to “them”, either. I believed it was important for my spiritual development to be involved in a church body and I stuck with it for several years. The connections I eventually made there were extremely helpful in my journey. What drew me to the church I stayed with for so long was that in spite of my difficulty in connecting, I sensed a strong vibe of people wanting to be more real, leaning into God and wanting more. People who were trying to be community and stumbling around with it honestly. Failing sometimes but always trying.

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