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Bridge Events That Reach Secular People

Characteristics of Secular People

By Bill Hackett

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Missionaries study the culture and habits of the people they plan to reach. It helps to know some characteristics of unchurched people before we try to reach them.

George Hunter, in How To Reach Secular People, points out several characteristics of secular people:

  1. Secular people are essentially ignorant of basic Christianity and are often biblically illiterate.
  2. Secular people are seeking life before death. They think more about life this side of death—how to find it, salvage it, give it meaning and purpose—more than they think about life after death.
  3. Secular people are conscious of doubt more than guilt. People today may no longer feel guilty or responsible. They see themselves as victims of society and do not think they are responsible for their actions. Instead of guilt, they are skeptical and full of doubt, especially when it comes to believing in absolutes.
  4. Secular people have a negative image of the church. They doubt the intelligence, relevance, and credibility of the church and its advocates.
  5. Secular people have multiple alienations: work, nature, government, jobs, and one another.
  6. Secular people are untrusting. They often feel abused, manipulated, and exploited. They sometimes put God in the image as the exploiter, the abuser, and the cop.
  7. Secular people have low self-esteem. This is part of the basic sin problem and is compounded with divorces, dysfunctional homes, etc.
  8. Secular people experience forces in history as out of control. People see the world today as out of control with political unrest, the AIDS epidemic, etc.
  9. Secular people experience forces in their own personalities and families they cannot control. They see their very lives as a problem.
  10. Secular people are lost and cannot seem to find God on their own.1

ENDNOTE

  1. George G. Hunter, III, How To Reach Secular People (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992), 44—53.

Bill Hackett is vice president for Academic Affairs at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God.

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