Monday, January 23, 2017

3 Ways to Build Trust With Someone Who Has Lost Faith in the Church

In a culture that is becoming increasingly averse to the gospel, I anticipate the ways we evangelize will continue to change. As the number of religious nones (i.e., those who have no religious ties) continues to increase, we must think through ways to better engage them.

But there remains an often-overlooked group of unreached people who desperately need the gospel. This group consists of men and women who have experienced deep levels of church hurt.

In recent years, some have pointed out low rates of transfer growth as measurements for effective evangelism. Is that the right approach, though? Is it possible that the absence of at least some transfer growth in evangelical churches points to a deeper issue? Have we ignored a group of men and women whose painful experiences have created barriers to hearing the gospel?

While attending Fuller Seminary, some of the courses I appreciated the most involved pastoral care. Those pastoral care classes, combined with my own experience in pastoral ministry, have taught me one truth: Pastors and leaders have to exegete—a fancy theological word meaning to “expound” or “interpret”—their people just as much as they have to exegete Scripture. And that means dealing with varying levels of church hurt.

Whether a person has had concerns over a church’s poor financial stewardship or experienced spiritually abusive leadership, there is a cross section of the dechurched community that suffers not from a lack of faith, but a lack of trust.

How do you rebuild that trust? How do you overcome church hurt as a barrier to evangelism? I think it can be done in three ways. Read More

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