Having NO church background can be better than having SOME church background

Confessions of a young, churched baby boomer: Signs the world has changed — part of a series

Jan. 19, 2023

By Rev. Rick King

It used to be that churches—especially the more traditional ones—attracted and wanted people who had some church background.

The church has a particular culture, and back in the day, it was easier for churched people to know what to do when they went looking for a church home, and easier for them to find identity, belonging, and purpose in the church they found.

Traditional-style churches have always been better at attracting people who were already church-experienced. Leave unchurched people to the megachurches and emergent churches, was the conventional wisdom.

But as Canadian pastor Carey Nieuwhof points out, we’re moving from a generation of people who are DONE with church to a generation of people that has no church background at all. Young people born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s, so-called Generation Z, have little to no religious background because they either did not experience religion at all as children, or they had so little of it before they left church that it is as though they had none.

Having no church background would seem to be an obstacle to attracting Gen Z to Christianity. It’s also one major factor that accounts for why all churches except the very large ones are struggling to keep their members and/or shrinking in size. Believe me, our church is not the only one looking at a sizable deficit budget for 2023.

But could no church background also present us with an opportunity?

People who have little or no experience of church may also have NO BAD experience of church: a blank slate, of sorts.

As we look at the next two to three years and re-envisioning ourselves and our mission, it will be good for us to get to know more about the growing group of people who have no experience of church or religion, bad or good

Who do YOU know who has no church background?