By now, we’ve all heard the term “nones.” It characterizes the growing number of Americans who do not identify with a specific religion.

Initially, many thought that “nones” had left organized religion and were now seemingly akin to atheists or agnostics. That doesn’t seem to be the case, however.

As more people began wrestling with the data, some began to wonder if the “nones” characterized themselves this way because they are uncomfortable identifying with what they see as “organized religion.” This idea of organized religion has come under criticism recently, and many people disagree as to what it represents. But to some, it represents many negative characteristics and beliefs.

While certainly some of those who classify themselves as “nones” have little or no use for faith, others—some might argue—are more in line with spiritual seekers. Or just unwilling to slap a label on themselves that might cause confusion or debate.

Regardless of the reason, the Church has a big responsibility in how it interacts with this growing demographic. By addressing their concerns and acting with the love of Jesus, the Church can play an important role in helping the “nones” find a home.

Here are a few examples.

1. Continue to open your church doors to the community for neighborhood-related events, block parties, garage sales and a host of other low pressure and not necessarily church functions. If “nones” are truly disappointed with organized religion, a community-focused approach might be more palatable for them.

2. Invite them to church activities before you invite them to church. If in fact they have become turned off by what they see as “organized religion,” it might be difficult for them to want to attend an official church service—for a variety of reasons. Demonstrate the love of Jesus to them by casually but intentionally inviting them to a small group that regularly plays sports, or a group at your church that speaks into neighborhood issues, or a group that delivers food or clothing to those in need.

3. Just be their friend. This may seem obvious, but it’s also the best way to demonstrate Christ’s love. Whatever journey the person is on, more than anything they need to know that Jesus loves them and that there are others who love them too. You won’t have all the answers to the questions they are wrestling with, but you have an ear, a listening heart and a compassionate attitude … all things Jesus demonstrated and encourages us to do.  

It's our job to be faithful witnesses to the love of Christ; the results are left in His hands.

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