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Unchurched People Are More Open Than You Think

In 2016, the Billy Graham Center commissioned a survey of 2,000 Americans who don’t actively participate in religion—the “unchurched.” The survey asked these people about how they perceive Christians and Christianity. This included their view of Christianity, their willingness to talk about faith matters with Christians, how they would respond to being invited to a church event, and which types of invitations would they be most willing to accept.

The data found that many unchurched Americans think well of Christians and are open to engaging matters of faith. For example, 42 percent of the unchurched think that Christianity is good for society, 33 percent admire their Christians friends’ faith, and up to 67 percent would be willing to attend a church event (depending on the type of event). Richardson concludes that the unchurched include “a massive number of people who are open to being invited, persuaded, and connected to a local congregation.”

This analysis counters misconceptions about the unchurched. Christians commonly overestimate the hostility of the unchurched in matters of faith. We can slip into viewing them as mini-versions of Richard Dawkins—hostile to all things Christian. Not all of them will constructively engage us, of course, but many will.

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