In 2013, polls indicated that around 36 percent of Americans went to church every Sunday. By 2020, that figure had dropped to 24 percent. The people that never attend church (29 percent) now outnumber those who attend regularly (24 percent). Yet, the number of Americans who consider themselves spiritual but not religious continues to rise, from 19 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2017. Nearly half (44 percent) of those who consider themselves spiritual say religion is not important to them at all.

Those statistics may seem confusing, but they all point to a simple truth: people are still spiritually hungry, but are not finding what they want or need in religion. The Sunday morning experience is not working for them. Maybe it’s too stifling, too bound to tradition or too boring. Whatever the reason, the spiritually hungry are not being fed.

With that in mind, Zion Evangelical Church would like to introduce a new worship experience called “Unchurch.” There will be no expectations of what you should wear or look like, no organ music, and no traditional format. Instead, the Unchurch hopes to be unlike what you have experienced before.

We will meet in a church basement, the chairs arranged in a circle to we can talk with each other, not have someone talk at us. There will be no predetermined message, but we will get into God’s word and see where He is leading us. We will take time to see what our brothers and sisters are going through, living out the words of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” We will build long-term relationships, with God and each other as an ongoing family of faith.

The Unchurch is built on spiritual honesty, with God and with one another. That is, on Sunday mornings we often bring to church our problems, our sin, our shame and our brokenness, but we keep it inside. When someone asks us how we’re doing we generally say “fine.” But we aren’t fine, and we often leave church disappointed because we have to carry out those same problems with us. Here, we will be able to be open and honest, especially as we build trust with one another. It will be OK to share the brokenness of our “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

All of this may sound like something going on at your church, but it goes much deeper than that. It isn’t a Bible study, or small group ministry, or Sunday School lesson. All of those things are great and serve an important purpose in God’s kingdom. But if they truly met the needs of the spiritually hungry, our churches, Sunday Schools and Bible studies would be packed to overflowing. Sadly, they are not.

It may be that you already have a meaningful church home, and if so, we encourage you to stay there. But if not, you might want to consider the Unchurch. Ask yourself these questions –why do you go to church, and more importantly, when was the last time you were excited about going? If the Unchurch does what we think it will, you can rediscover your excitement in growing a relationship with God and with others.

The Unchurch meets every Thursday evening at 6:15 in the basement of Zion Evangelical Church, 7025 E 100 North in Shelbyville, starting April 15. We hope to see you there.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know.

Pastor Brad Schultz, Zion Evangelical Church, bschultz27@gmail.com