Ed and his fellow authors broke the younger unchurched into four types, yet realized that there might be some overlap between these groups. The four types of the unchurched are:
1. Always unchurched (never been involved) – about 22% of the younger unchurched. They have the smallest, yet widest view of God and Jesus. If we create a composite character (which the authors do), we see that they, for the most part, do not believe the Jesus died and actually came back to life, yet they are open-minded enough to admit that having faith in Jesus might make a positive difference in a person’s life. They have no church experience but still believe that many church goers are hypocritical in judging other people. They are somewhat curious about God, or a supreme being. They seldom wonder about their eternal destiny. They have cloudy views on the after life and since that is the case, their views on the afterlife have little impact on how they live.
2. De-churched (having attended as a child) – largest subgroup (62%). Their interest and receptivity are generally higher than the other types of younger unchurched. They possess more traditional views of God, Christianity and the church. Yet, they are still open to the possibility that supreme beings of other world religions may be similar to the biblical God. Also have negative views toward church goers (hypocrites again) and they have personal lifestyle issues that make them wonder if they would be accepted at church. They occasionally wonder about their eternal destiny than the previous group which impacts lifestyle somewhat.
3. Friendly unchurched (not particularly angry at the church) – (15%) – have no current animosity toward the church. They do not view the church as a bunch of hypocrites, and Christians’ do not get on their nerves. Strongly agree that God exists and is unique. They do not think that it is necessary to attend church in order to relate well with God.
4. Hostile unchurched (angry at the church or have some negative experiences with the church) – (37%) – They are usually anti-church and probably consider the church and her members to be bigoted and dangerous. Do not think that the biblical God is the same as those presented by non-Christian religions. Believe that the church is all about organized religion instead of loving God and people.
There were two issues that the pollsters asked these younger unchurched about and what impact the stances by a church would have on them. First, how would they react knowing a church did not endorse the ordination of women as pastors? Would it impact their decision to attend that church? Nearly 65% said it would negatively impact their decision. Second, would knowing that the church you were considering visiting did not welcome and affirm homosexual members negatively or positively impact your decision? Once again the overwhelming majority of the younger unchurched reported this would negatively impact their decision.
This tells us that we cannot have a serious conversation about reaching the unchurched, particularly the younger unchurched, without addressing issues of gender and sexuality.
At the end of each chapter there is a “fable” with each of the unchurched types represented by a composite characters along with a committed Christian represented as well.