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Unbelievers

We found in a world where savvy collegians filter most incoming information, our presentational approaches have become the unwanted “pop-up ads” on the computer screen of their lives.

Unbelievers are telling us that there is a disconnect between our efforts to convey the good news about Jesus and their willingness to listen to us tell that message.

Using a two-minute video clip from a Seinfeld episode (in which Elaine interacts with her “Christian” boyfriend Puddy), we interviewed Unbelievers at four universities to discern which approaches they would find most beneficial in considering the message of Christ.

Consider the three main findings of these interviews:

• The method of the messenger has become the message.
Our audience wants a respectful, non-confrontational approach, but when the messenger is perceived to be disrespectful or hypocritical, the message is considered irrelevant.  This has implications for training believers and for creating new tools/approaches to reach this generation.  As one unbeliever commented, They listen to Christian music, have fish on their cars, then tell everyone they are going to hell.”

• They are convinced they’ve already heard.
Regardless of how we adapt our evangelistic approaches, it is significant to know that our audience thinks they’ve already heard the message of Jesus (even if, in fact, they haven’t). We found that 31 of 34 unbelievers we interviewed felt that they’d already heard the message of Jesus.

• Their conversational autonomy trumps our initiating compassion.
For many, the power to decide when and with whom they will have a discussion about Jesus is a higher concern than the notion that believers feel compassion toward them in initiating a conversation about Jesus.  Therefore, didactic or presentational approaches (as opposed to questioning and conversational approaches) may not get as much traction as in the past.  We need new tools, of the right kind.I’d prefer they didn’t (talk to me about Jesus).  I’m an adult capable of making my own decisions.”

For more details on the results of the Unbeliever interviews, please see the full report, “Unbelievers.”

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