What are non-Christians looking for?
I recently came across a quote from Carey Nieuwhof (who I happen to love) that read,
You can’t reach a secular culture by being more secular. You can reach it by becoming more authentic.Carey Nieuwhof
I felt that short little quote summed up what I’m about to spend probably 600+ words writing in response to today’s question. A woman asked me, What can we be doing as believers to reach people in our community with the gospel in a way that they will be receptive?
I want to answer this question with a question, what are non-Christians looking for? Because that’s what we need in order to offer them the gospel in a way they will be receptive.
In case you get bogged down with the following words, return to the quote above. But for those who want more, here it is:
Before I get too far into this, I want to remind you that what non-Christians are looking for isn’t that different from what Christians (especially new Christians) are looking for. But most of us overcomplicate the answer and forget that non-Christians and Christians alike are people with similar needs and insecurities and desires.
People (Christians and non-Christians) want to find a SAFE place to ask questions and to process through their doubts, their experiences and their circumstances. Simply put, non-Christians are looking for someone to LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGMENT.
I can already sense the clenching of someone’s jaw as they read those last three words because there are A LOT of people sitting in pews, desperate to correct and set-straight a secular world, and quite honestly, it’s off-putting because it comes across self-righteous and prideful instead of compassionate and loving.
So, assuming you didn’t roll your eyes and quit reading, let’s unpack what non-Christians are looking for (not just from the church but in general). Because I think it becomes less about what we are DOING and more about who we are BEING.Non-Christians are looking for someone to listen–like really listen. Not the kind of listening where you’re thinking about the next thing you are going to say but the kind where you hear more than just the words. Listen to hear the heart behind the words. Talk less, listen more, and then ask questions so you can learn and listen some more.
*Non-Christians are looking for someone to empathize with them. Empathize doesn’t mean agree…it means connecting with the struggle of sin. You may not deal with the same temptations but you do deal with temptations and sin. Until you are in heaven, your flesh will struggle against the Spirit, and just because your struggle looks different than someone else’s doesn’t make theirs less valid. It also means empathizing with hard circumstances. Their circumstances may not be your circumstances. And they may have made every wrong decision to find themselves in the middle of their circumstances. But surely you can acknowledge the difficulty and call it out.
*Non-Christians are looking for a Christian to let the Spirit intervene in their own life first. How many times have Christians approached/seen a non-Christian through fleshly eyes and not through the eyes of the one who created them? Too many, that’s why most non-Christians have a bad taste in their mouth toward Christians. What if Christians invited the Spirit to give them divine eyes to see non-Christians the way God sees them? What we might see is ourselves before we were rescued by a kind God who gave His Son on our behalf when we definitely didn’t deserve it.
*Non-Christians aren’t looking for someone who has their act together or has perfected their Christian walk or even someone who knows everything about the Bible. Non-Christians are looking for someone who genuinely cares not about them as a project but about them as a person.
It’s okay to have a non-Christian friend who you spend time with and who you desire to share Christ with, but don’t get so caught up in your own message that you aren’t listening and hearing and genuinely caring about what your non-Christian friends and families have to say or what they are truly dealing with.