In Australia, thousands have walked away from church due to a negative experience, many of them unfortunately have walked away from their Christian faith due to a crisis or negative experience of church.
Winston Churchill once said, ‘Never waste a good crisis’. This was the base of a discussion that Tina Waldrom had with Natasha Rae, a Positive Psychological Practitioner from The Morph Clinic in Geelong, Victoria.
Tina interviewed Natasha on The Win Win Evangelism Podcast to discuss the De Churched and to discover what information would be helpful in reaching this group of people.
To clarify, the goal is not to get people back to church but to encourage people to continue to follow Jesus. The goal is discipleship not ‘church-ship’.
Natasha loves to cook. As a way to get started on the interview she was asked to described the De Churched community as a meal. Here’s her answer.
Tina went on to ask further questions to Natasha in the first podcast episode.
Here’s a paraphrase from parts of the interview.
Tina…”What should we be mindful of when trying to reach out to those that have experienced a crisis and have become De Churched?”
Everybody needs to be loved.
Those who have walked away are often discarded and they are the ones that are left out and put into the too hard basket. For these people, there’s a loss of community as they leave a place where they were well connected. There’s a loss of identity. It is often a time of great trauma and we cannot underestimate what people have been through.
There is no room to judge, the starting point is to love and to listen. Love people gently back to a relationship with the Lord, don’t make going to church the focus.
Tina…”What did you do to reconnect with God and how can your experience help others?”
Natasha: For me it was about finding a place of joy again where I could connect with God.
I picked up art and I did a lot of gardening. I wanted to see things grow because I felt like everything was dead in my life. So, encourage people to engage back into things they enjoy and to find God real in those spaces.
God spoke to me more through the garden than he did in any other situation. My thoughts went to staying planted in the dark times, staying planted in the ground like a plant, it is so important.
Tina … “In your own experience, what were the most helpful things people did to encourage you to connect back with God?”
Natasha: My friends! I have a couple of great friends. They did not try to push the envelope. They did not try to push me back to church. They just loved me, they prayed for me and very importantly they laughed and cried with me. These Christian friends were medicine to my soul. These friends understood that I needed time and they were happy to stay the journey with me as I journeyed through my grief and found answers to my pain.
People can be helped if we can be a friend that does not judge, that is willing to sit back and take the slow journey forward with people.
Tina… “There’s a term used in positive psychology…Post Traumatic growth. How is this helpful in the De Churched discussion?”
Natasha: Post-traumatic growth is basically about benefit finding among the trauma experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges in order to rise above and flourish again.
If we look at a situation, at a trauma that somebody has been through, generally, they will go through some type of post-traumatic stress and will have triggers and other responses. We don’t deny that in positive psychology, they are very real.
However, on the flip side, when people look back on the crisis, when people look back on the journey, there are things that are helpful. They have often grown in their understanding about many things that can now be helpful. This is post traumatic growth. It happens when people go benefit finding.
After Episode 1 on The De Churched ?
Natasha wrote a blog article for EIA “A crisis for churches & evangelism” its a wonderful read.
A second podcast episode was also recorded with Tash talking about ‘appreciative inquiry’, a term from her professional world.
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Go well as you continue to reach out to the many different groups within society.
The EIA Team