calendar April 11, 2014 in Communications, Congregations, Connecting, Equipping

Engaging With “Nones”

Last night (April 10) the Philadelphia Seminary’s “Exploring Series” hosted a program with New England Synod Bishop Jim Hazelwood conversing with four “Nones” with no church affiliation. Some quick observations about what “Nones” had to say:

  • Welcoming people as they are and where they are on their faith journey is important. “Nones” can “smell” insincerity when they walk in the door.
  • Being dogmatic about doctrine or becoming defensive when someone raises questions drives “Nones” away.
  • Some “Nones” seek an exploring spirituality that connects us with all living things, the planet, and other faiths. Panelists said the connect “religious” with zealotry, following without thinking, and being with people who believe all the same things.
  • Conversation with “Nones” happens best outside church, in non-judgmental spaces.
  • People who see their kids very little during the week don’t want to come to church to drop the kids off in Sunday School but want to be together.
Hazelwood and Nones

Bishop Hazelwood (center) engages with four “smart people who don’t go to church” to understand the barriers between “Nones” and the church.

In his summary, Bishop Hazelwood urged church leaders to accept that the church is no longer in a central, privileged position in culture, and start joining God outside the walls rather than trying to invite people in to church.

Churches that survive will adopt a culture of experimentation, he said. That means they will accept that many experiments will fail and try anyway.     — Bob Fisher