The 4 Types of “Nones”
In a previous message I said that we need to think about how we might reach out to the “Nones”—people who might be Christian but describe themselves as unaffiliated—none of the above. UCC clergywoman (and Chicago buddy) Lillian Daniel wrote a thoughtful Daily Devotional recently about the Nones that helped me think about this population. I am happily stealing it here.
“And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” – Matthew 5:47 NIV
These days, one out of three people under the age of 30 checks off “None” as their religious preference. In writing my last book, I came to understand that the people who check off “None” do so for a number of reasons. They are not one group. For simplicity’s sake, I think there are at least four types of Nones today: the No Longers, No Ways, Never Haves and Not Yets.
The No Longers have drifted from church. Sometimes they return for a big life event like a wedding or a funeral, but not until they feel a lack in their lives.
The No Ways made a conscious choice to leave, often after being seriously hurt by a religious community. Sometimes they find a different kind of church, like the UCC for example. When we do welcome newcomers, we do a pretty good job with the No Ways. We’re good at telling people what kind of church we are not, and sometimes they like what they hear.
But the Never Haves and the Not Yets have never experienced religious community before. Never Haves are often the grown children of the No Ways, inheriting their parent’s anger or pain, nervous about showing up to any church.
The Not Yets are open and curious, and may wander in. Unfortunately, we often treat them like No Longers or No Ways, by answering questions they are not asking. “We’re not like this or that kind of church,” we say. Meanwhile the Never Haves and Not Yets are simply wondering who we think we are talking to during all those prayers.
Are you are doing a good job of welcoming people who have never experienced religious community before? Or are you assuming that everyone has already experienced it, and merely pointing out your church’s key differentiators? It’s something to think about, and apparently Jesus thought about it long before we did.
Jesus, you welcomed all people before there ever was a Church in your name. Teach me to say less about my own brand of Christianity and more about you, my own amazing Savior. Amen.
Do you know about the Daily Devotionals from the United Church of Christ? They are short email messages with a piece of scripture, a reflection, and a prayer. They’re thoughtful and well-written. You can sign up here.
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Cabinet Meeting, 5/14—The Cabinet will this Sunday meet after worship in the library. This is our bi-monthly meeting of the church’s lay leadership, and all are welcome!
Strengthen the Church, 5/14—We’ll collect an offering for this UCC fund that assists new and revitalizing UCC congregations and youth ministries. Please write checks to “Cleveland Park Congregational UCC” with “Strengthen the Church” in the memo line.
Coffee Hour Conversation: Congregations & Climate Change, 5/21—Joelle Noevy, Director of DCMV Interfaith Power and Light, will lead us in a discussion about the current climate (political and ecological) and what congregations like ours can do to create positive change.
Mindfulness, Movement & Meditation, thru 5/23—Our spring spiritual practices series meets Tuesdays from 7-8:15 pm. Relax and renew through yogic breathing, gentle movements (seated or standing), meditation, and the sound of the symphonic gong. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday School Update—Our Sunday School program will take a summer break from 6/25-8/20. Also, there will be no Sunday School on Memorial Day Weekend, 5/28, but our Nursery will be open for childcare. Questions? email@example.com.
Shaw Community Center Scholarships—Your donations are needed to support twenty $1000 scholarships for students from inner city DC. Please send checks to Shaw Community Center, memo “Scholarships,” 1701 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001. Or go to www.shawministry.org and click “Donate.”
UCC General Synod in Baltimore, 7/2—If you’d like to go with a group from our church to participate in a worship service with thousands of UCC members from across the country on Sunday afternoon, 7/2, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.