Mark Fleishmann revealed the results of his survey regarding “Outsiders” (read “people who didn’t grow up going to church”) in an article in Leadership Journal this summer. What he had always heard was true: most people who become Christians do so before they are 18 years old. He discovered, though, something about the approach to faith of those who didn’t become Christians until later.
My final discovery was that, of those Christians with an un churched background, most (56 percent) report coming to faith in the midst of a significant transition or crisis. Most of ten it’s family-related—either transitioning into parenthood or coping with a marriage crisis. But other times the crisis may relate to addiction, illness, death, finances, even world catas trophes. The transition may be into a new relationship, a new community, or a new career. These circumstances often are the open window of opportunity for the gospel to take root.
When that window is open in an unchurched person’s life and they are surrounded by the truth and people of God, the Spirit works remarkably through things that might not even look evangelistic on the surface. A broken man in a 12-step group suddenly finds himself getting saved. A desperate couple at a marriage seminar unexpectedly embraces faith. A hurting woman in a prayer group surprisingly finds herself believing.
Mark Fleischmann, “How Outsiders Find Faith” (Leadership, Summer 2010), p. 82.
Our thoughts exactly! We have seen in our coaching and emphasis on serving couples how people can have the “eyes of their hearts opened” so that they can be enlightened regarding their relationship with God at the same time that they are being enlightened about married life. As followers of Jesus, we must keep our eyes open to recognize when the “unchurched” need to know that somebody cares about their marriage – perhaps more than they do at the moment. As churches, we have to understand how a consistent message about caring for marriages can be an important attraction for a significant number of the unchurched. Lead them to a Christ-centered marriage and right into a relationship with Christ.
Show them heaven and heaven on earth in their marriages!
Richard and JeannaLynn May