What Do Do With the Nones?

May 31, 2014

What will ministry look like in an increasingly post-Christian age? James Emery White, a pastor and researcher, joins the fray with a fascinating new book, The Rise of the Nones. If you are not familiar, “Nones” describe the increasing number people refusing to affiliate themselves with any faith group. There is a lot of conjecture about how big this group is, what the date says, etc. James has a very thoughtful perspective. I had the chance to interview him this week for Parse, the Leadership Journal ministry blog. I asked him what Christian leaders should do with all of this data:

As pastors and church leaders survey the data on “nones,” how would you counsel them to approach their ministries in this new era?

Too many churches are taking an Acts 2 approach in an Acts 17 world.

Well, the entire second half of the book delves into this question, but here’s an overarching theme: I would suggest they move from an Acts 2 model to an Acts 17 model. By that I mean that in Acts 2, you had Peter addressing the God-fearing Jews of Jerusalem. On a spiritual scale from one to ten, they were probably on an eight. They believing in God, the Old Testament Scriptures, heaven and hell, and a promised Messiah. That’s a lot to begin with! And Peter fashioned his approach accordingly. Fast forward to Paul in Acts 17. On our imaginary scale, they were probably about a two. Paul didn’t approach them as God-fearing Jews, but as the (at best) agnostics that they were. He had to start with creation and work his way forward. He understood that evangelism, for that group, would involve both process and event. Too many churches are taking an Acts 2 approach in an Acts 17 world.

You can read the rest of the interview here: