Can you craft a message series for unchurched people and still be faithful to scripture?
Can you preach to a room full of churched people and unchurched people at the same time with the same message and help them both take a step in their faith?
Without a doubt, yes.
The question is how.
That was the introduction to a blog post about writing a sermon series I read. And that is about how far I got before I started to disagree with the author. He went on to say that you needed to choose the right angle. Instead of calling a sermon series about Esther, Esther call it “Your Big Moment”. That angle will make it more intriguing and appealing to your churched and unchurched audience. Only 100 words into the blog I could tell he missed the mark. Esther is not about you, the Bible is not about you! Enough said, but he goes on to say things like “The problem with most message series is that they are focused on what the speaker wants to say, not what the listener wants to hear.” (I think he misunderstood 2 Timothy 4:3), and recommends looking at Amazon top 100, movies, magazines, Google Trends, and current events for sermon ideas and angles.
The fact “churches for the unchurched” forget is the only message an “unchurched” person needs is they are a sinner in need of a savior, Jesus was the sacrifice for their sins, if they repent of their sins God will forgive them. If you aren’t preaching the clear gospel to unchurched people you are failing! Guess what, preaching Christ, his crucifixion, resurrection and the repentance from sin is good for the unchurched and the churched alike! Put Christ at the center of your sermon series and let God the Holy Spirit do the rest. That’s all we can do. Paul says preaching Christ is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23), but he did it anyway and it worked! Not because Paul was so entertaining or had the best light show. It was because he was faithful in preaching Christ and God did the hard part and changed people’s hearts.
The other fact is the church (the local gathering of believers) is for the church. It’s for training, fellowship, worship, encouraging one another, observe communion and baptism, and so on and so forth. That’s not to say unbelievers or the unchurched can’t attend, they are welcome, but the service shouldn’t intentionally be geared toward them. To turn church into an entertainment experience so you can draw in the unchurched is to say you don’t believe God’s word is enough to move in the hearts of unbelievers.
Church for the unchurched does not work. In this video have a rare documented response from this church’s target audience regarding their Easter service:
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching. 22 For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, 23 but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. 24 But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 26 Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position. 27 But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, 29 so that no one can boast in his presence.1 Corinthians 1:21-23