Layman, Aloma UMC, Winter Park, FL
CHURCH FOR THE UNCHURCHED
By George G. Hunter, III
In Church for the Unchurched, "Chuck" Hunter makes the case for a return to apostolic congregations in the Church. Readers would be wise to begin with Hunter’s earlier book, How to Reach Secular People. In that book the stage is set for churches in the new millennium returning to the heritage of the first century Church as opposed to the tradition of twentieth century church style in protestant America.
Described as a "researcher-prophet", Hunter began an unexpected life ministry on the muscle beaches of California. Faced with the reality of modernity and secularism, Hunter accurately portrays the development of today’s "traditional" church from the Age of Enlightenment to the present. Recalling that Jesus called the Church into the world and not the world to come to church, a picture is painted of today’s local churches in maintenance mode with no real understanding of how to reach out in an effective way to a secular population which sees the Church as irrelevant. Church for the Unchurched is a follow-on, "how-to" book for the still unconvinced who saw How to Reach Secular People as just another interesting theory.
The approach to this new apostolic age is defined by Hunter in terms of successful churches in America in which God is acting to reach secular, unchurched non-Christians. Hard data has been gathered to find a commonality that other local churches can adapt to their own particular place in a completely changed religious environment. The common criteria are:
The churches chosen for study are Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery, AL; New Hope Community Church in Portland, OR; Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, IL; Community Church of Joy in Phoenix, AZ; Saddleback Valley Community Church in Orange County, CA; The Church on Brady in East Los Angeles, CA; New Song Church in West Covina, CA; Ginghamsburg UMC in Ginghamsburg, OH; and the Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, OH.
Hunter speaks of apostolic Christians finding a new relationship with God and a new relationship with God’s people. Essential to the model are personal commitment, overcoming cultural differences, finding relationships and accountability in small groups, and a complete release and empowerment of the laity to personal ministry beyond the local church walls. The biblical principles of the Church of The Book of Acts must be applied for churches to become meaningful and to fulfill the Great Commission.