The number of atheists, agnostics, and ‘nones’ are growing. While this might be scary to many Christians, it has actually been a good thing. This forces Christians to consider the answers to difficult questions about religion and the existence of God. In other words, it keeps us honest. Or at least it should.
The growth of the ‘nones’ should also motivate Christians to be self-critical: How well are representing our faith in Christ? Or are we even choosing to represent Christ at all, choosing instead to retreat inside the walls of the church building?
You may not feel equipped to talk with an aggressive atheist or a hardened skeptic, but let me suggest one thing the church can do right now:
There is a saying: People want to belong, not just believe. We were created to be in relationship with others and with God, and yet so many people live in isolation. Churches can help meet this need. They can offer a sense of belonging and of knowing each other. Rather than just inviting people to go to church, we should look for ways to help the unchurched belong. This is where table fellowship can be so important.
This is something atheism can never do. Atheism produces organizations, but it does not create community. It might create a sense of shared identity, but this type of ‘community’ seems to be based solely on disbelief and a dislike of religion. However, give people a place to belong, and you can give them reason to believe.