Letter to those becoming unchurched
In mission-shaped church, the seminal report of the UK Anglican Church describing the development of what they call "fresh expressions of church", they give a helpful analysis of the spectrum of association with church to be found in today's culture.
They identify about 10% as being "fringe attenders", those who attend some activity of the church 1-3 times in 2 month period. They also identify about 20% as "open de-churched", people who have left the church at some point in their life journey dropping out because of change of home, job or lifestyle, or because church did not cater for their age group, children, lifestyle, theology, etc. These people are open to return if suitably contacted and invited - as opposed to the "closed de-churched", a further 20% who have left church because of some hurt, having experienced rejection, lack of acceptance, a personality clash or relationship breakdown, or the church as a culture of control. Their radical disenchantment means that they have no intention of returning; experience has inoculated them against church.
On the boundary of the first two groups, there are a fluid number of people who are at risk of becoming unchurched. They may be fringe attenders whose attendance is slipping into less and less involvement; or they may be open de-churched who have made some attempt to re-connect with church in some form but have not found the hole, help, or hope which they were seeking. Whatever their origin, there is, on the fringe of every conventional church, those who are in increasing danger of discovering that life can be lived without the connection to church which they once had. If you are a key leader of a congregation, you can probably put your own names and faces to these people.
What do we do for these people? What can we say to them? The attached pdf. file contains the letter I would write to someone I could identify as being in this group. Well, actually, I wouldn't write a letter. I would go and see them and talk to them. But this letter contains the substance of what I would want to convey -
Letter to those becoming unchurched (17 kb PDF)