The unchurched: They don't know what they don't know

Sam Rainer: “We don’t assume anything. We explain everything that happens.”Sixty-two percent of those who no longer attend an organized church service did so as a child, according to a recent study of unchurched Americans conducted by LifeWay Research and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism in Wheaton, Ill.

Sam Rainer, lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church in Manatee County, says churches need to be sensitive to this fact as they interact with people who don’t currently attend church.

Rainer cautioned that just because they may have attended church at some point in their lives it doesn’t necessarily mean they understand the Gospel or church culture.

What’s worse is that they don’t know what they don’t know.

Rainer said that his church does not get a lot of transfer growth, so the new people they have coming in are new to the faith or the denomination.

“We don’t assume anything,” he said. “We explain everything that happens.”

If people don’t understand something, Rainer said, they may stop coming because they feel like they don’t belong.

Want to know more?

I am taking a deep dive into the topic of the unchurched and our misunderstandings of who they are and how to reach them for the cover story of our February print edition.

Nicole Kalil is a Jacksonville-based reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness. She can be reached at

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