Here’s What the “Average” Unchurched Family Looks Like Today


“May we remove every unnecessary encumbrance and unbiblical distraction and be the place of grace that reaches the ones Christ gave his very life for.”

Many years ago when our church began revitalization, we prayed and asked God whom he was calling us to reach.

The answer we felt God impressing upon us then was to focus on unchurched families.

So we created strategies and programs designed to reach out to these families.

God showed up and we began making inroads to reach these families, but then something unexpected happened.

They changed.

In fact, while we were busy perfecting the plans and programs we had used to reach the average unchurched family, the entire culture shifted.

Here we are 16 years later and we have found that we needed to reevaluate everything in light of these radical cultural shifts.

As we stepped back and took a fresh look at the average unchurched family that God is bringing to us, we have noted some characteristics that have become the foundation for reinventing our structures, strategies and programs.

So, what does the “average” unchurched family look like today?

1. They are a blended home.

Forty-three percent of all marriages are remarriages and 65 percent of those involve children from a prior marriage. Blended families are becoming the norm.

Not to mention that nearly 41 percent of children are born of unmarried parents. Many of our families have been together for years but have never been legally married.

More than half of the children in our programming come from these family realities.

This means that little Billy probably comes so sporadically because that’s how often he’s with the family that attends our church.

POINT: Don’t scold Billy when he shows up or say things like “we sure wish you’d have been here last week when we had our big fun time.” Children’s programs need to maximize every weekend recognizing that we may only get Billy about 20 times in a year. Programming must realistically deal with the new family norms.

2. They are spiritually mismatched.

Families typically begin attending our church due to just one of the adult guardians. Most often this is “mom” (I put mom in quotes because she may or may not be the biological mother of the children she’s bringing) who makes the connection first. She starts coming, bringing the kids along, while “dad” is busy “enjoying his only day off” back at home.

POINT: Don’t make mom feel awkward for not being there as a couple. Equip her to be the spiritual leader in the home without alienating dad. Celebrate that she has worked hard to get her family there. Create on-ramps that will make it easier for her to invite her husband to come with her. Maximize special events that create bridges into the life of the spiritually mismatched partner. Offer small groups that mom would feel comfortable being a part of.

3. They are financially strapped.

According to Pew research, the average middle class family cannot absorb even one financial catastrophe. Credit has become a way of life for the American household. Digging ever deeper holes of debt with no end in sight. In other words, they’re strapped.

These families need more from a church than just another organization asking for their money. They need help. They need desperately not just to understand what tithing is all about. They need the basics. They need to learn how to earn, budget, spend and save their money. Fortunately, the Bible is one of the greatest manuals for money management on the planet!

POINT: Churches must teach on money beyond giving. We must offer classes on sound money management. In addition, when planning events and programs such as camps and conferences we need to consider whether the average family in our church could afford this and how we can make these extras more accessible.

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SOURCE: Church Leaders
Brian Moss