Monday, November 19, 2007

Building A Church Without Walls (Part 1)

By Pastor Kong Hee

I recently discovered a most fascinating research. A team of 15 surveyors spent hundreds of hours interviewing and studying unchurched people in developed urban cities. During a period of two years, they entered the world of the unchurched, taking the time to listen to people of all age groups and finding out the concerns they had toward their own lives and toward their relationships with those around them. From the rich, to the middle class and the poor, from the uneducated to the professors and doctors, they spoke to people from different races and varied ethnic backgrounds.

The survey confirmed that most of the unchurched are in fact all around us—our neighbors, coworkers and colleagues, classmates and family members. That leads to another conclusion: that the unchurched have much more in common with believers than what we often suppose. Many of them share our same moral values—honesty, education, hard work, filial piety, etc.

The unfortunate truth is that a large number of Christians think of the unchurched as "fire-breathing pagans" who are, for some unknown reason, furious with us. They are viewed as pagans that don't believe in the existence of God. Apparently, they hate the church so much that they want to destroy all Christians. Yet, an interesting result of the survey reveals otherwise—a whopping 95 percent of "unchurched persons next door" do act like churchgoing Christians.

Now, of course, there are basic differences between churched and unchurched people. The most important distinction is that they have neither received salvation through Jesus, nor are they motivated to please God through their lifestyles. Apart from that, some of the common ties that they share with believers include:

-The unchurched are concerned about their families.
-Their moral values are not too radically different.
-They work alongside us.
-Their children play together with our children.
-Some of the unchurched may even be the teachers of our children.
-They carry friendly conversations with us.
-They often have similar financial burdens.
-They are just as patriotic as we are toward our country.
-Many of the unchurched even live in the same homes as we do ... they may be our unsaved family members!

INTRODUCING THE RAINER SCALE

Years ago, a missiologist [a person who systematically studies the theory and practice of Christian missions] named James Engel created the Engel Scale. This is a system that identifies non-Christians and determines the best way to share the gospel with them. Measuring from a scale of readings that range from -10 to +3, this scale helps ascertain the level of progress in the soul-winning process.The research team that was surveying the unchurched decided to take the works of James Engel and build upon it, eventually coming up with a simplified "gospel receptivity scale." Named the Rainer scale (see below), after head researcher Thom Rainer, it features a scale of 5 different "faith stages"—U1 to U5, where "U" stands for the unchurched, referring to those who go to church less than five times each year. Every stage within the scale represents a group of people with similar levels of receptivity toward the gospel.

1 comment:

Leo said...

"Many in the church growth movement believe that sociological understanding of those in the pew is as important to the success of the gospel as is the biblical truth which is proclaimed. As a result, theological convictions are frequently divorced from the work of the ministry. The marketing orientation in many churches takes this even further, erasing the distinction between the biblical Word and the world, robbing Christ's cross of its offense, and reducing Christian faith to the principles and methods which bring success to secular corporations.
While the theology of the cross may be believed, these movements are actually emptying it of its meaning."

THE CAMBRIDGE DECLARATION of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals April 20, 1996

John 3: 18-21
"He that believeth in Him is not condemned; but He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation: that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.19And this is the condemnation: that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."