Want to reach young families, but not sure how to approach post-modern, post-Christian families who live in your neighbourhood? This post is for you.

This week I’m excited to be speaking at the Orange Conference in Atlanta Georgia.

As a way of serving those who attend my talks I’ll be posting the outline to each session here on the blog.

Even if you don’t attend the conference, I hope you can glean a few insights from them that might help you lead better now.  And if you’re in the session, you won’t have to guess what that pesky blank you forgot to fill in was all about.

Here’s my talk outline on Starting a Church for Unchurched Families.



You’ve probably figured out by now that the beliefs and value systems of an “unchurched person” are different than they were ten years ago.OC 14 YES

You also might have noticed that families in your community aren’t what they used to be. So, with all the change, how do you create a ministry to effectively reach the families in your community?

In this breakout, we’ll look at 12 characteristics of today’s unchurched families and discuss what these characteristics mean for your ministry.


Family in a Post-Modern, Post-Christian Culture

 1. In the world of family, ­­­everything’s changing.

2. It’s almost impossible to reach people you don’t like or understand.

3. Unchurched people listen most to the people they like the most.

4. Most churches for unchurched people begin with churched people. The problem is that most stay that way.

5. Place churched people who love, accept and know unchurched people in your key positions.


12 Characteristics of Today’s Unchurched Families


 1. They don’t come back when they have kids.

a. 50% of parents said that having children did not affect their connection to a church.  (Even many churched parents said that children did not change their level of churchgoing.)

b. 5% of unchurched parents said that having children helped them become active in a church for the first time.


2.They feel less guilty than you think.

a. Unchurched people feel no more guilty about missing church on a Sunday than you feel about missing synagogue on a Saturday.

b. Guilt is a short-term motivator.


3. When they attend, they attend less often.

a. Small Groups can provide the motivation for people to come more regularly.

b. No one should be able to out-community the local church.

c. Disconnected families generally don’t stick.

d. They will become your best inviters if they like your ministry.


4. Most are spiritual

a. Most unchurched people believe in some kind of God.

b. Respecting their past journey better enables them to start a new journey.


5. They’re intelligent, just not biblically literate.

a. Be inclusive without being condescending


6. They want you to be Christian. Be authentically Christian.

a. Don’t alter the content of your services for unchurched people, alter the approach and experience.


7. They expect transparency.

a.  admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weakness.


8.They struggle with every social issue you were hoping to avoid.

a. You can’t hold non-Christian people accountable for Christian values

b. Have conversations.

c. Allow ministry to precede theology.


9. Their kids matter to them… maybe even more than they should.

a. Safe is even more important than ‘right’ to families.

b. What you spend on families communicates value to unchurched families.

c. The quality of your team determines the quality of their experience with you.


10. They are looking for partners.

a. They’re looking for partners; they’ve just never thought the church could help.

b. Strategy is almost more important than content when it comes to partnering with parents.


11. They need help with the homeside of the Orange strategy

a. They are not sure what “Christian” means.

b. They do not have a precedent for what a Christian home looks like. So you need to make that clear.


12. They do not follow a predictable spiritual growth curve.

a. Design a flexible on ramp.

b. Think steps, not programs.

c. Maturity takes time.

d. Relationships matter most.


If you want to go deeper, here are some related posts that can help you and your team:

15 Characteristics of Today’s Unchurched Person

Why We Need a Different Kind of Maturity in the Church

How to Responds as People Attend Church Less Often

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Got questions or thoughts you’d like to share? Leave a comment!


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  2. […] 12 important things about unchurched families. […]

  3. Brandon Kelley on May 3, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Carey, loved the break out at #OC14. Thanks for sharing on here as well!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on May 3, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      So glad to hear it Brandon. Glad it helped and thanks for coming!

      *Carey Nieuwhof, Lead Pastor *
      *Connexus Church*
      *546 Bryne Drive, Unit E Barrie Ontario L4N 9P6* *connexuscommunity.com * *careynieuwhof.com *
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      *Sent from my personal email account. **If adding others, please use cnieuwhof@gmail.com to include me in the conversation. Thank you!*

  4. coreyrayjones on May 2, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    “You can’t hold non-Christian people accountable for Christian values.” This should be common sense but we so are so quick to forget. Thank you for sharing your notes and helping us create churches for all people!

  5. […] Carey Nieuwhof Want to reach young families, but not sure how to approach post-modern, post-Christian families who […]

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