Many bemoan the decline of the church. But new research shows that unchurched Americans are surprisingly more receptive and open to the Christian faith than is commonly assumed.
Researcher and practitioner Rick Richardson unveils the findings of the Billy Graham Center Institute’s groundbreaking studies on the unchurched. A study of 2000 unchurched people across the country reveals that the unchurched are still remarkably open to faith conversations and the church. Further research into the top 10 percent of churches that most effectively reach the unchurched reveals their best practices. People who were previously unchurched share what actually moved them to faith and Christian commitment. And research shows that churches and organizations can be transformed to become places where conversion growth becomes the new normal.
If people tell you “the sky is falling,” don't believe them. You can lead the change that will help your church reach people—who then reach others.
"You Found Me is a breath of fresh air. Armed with research on the state of church outreach and the attitudes of the unchurched toward faith, Richardson charts a compelling vision for church outreach and evangelism in our new post-Christian world."
"Rick Richardson has helped us crack the cultural code to unlock the receptivity of millennials, nones, and irreligious people today. He's given us hope based on solid data and research that can truly help many people find their way back to God through our churches!"
"Rick Richardson invites us to take our hands off the panic button and look at what the latest research is really telling us about the spiritual temperature of America. He says the data show that people are far more receptive to faith than we've been led to believe. And his own experience of engaging with unchurched people confirms it. You Found Me offers us fresh hope for launching missional communities that see genuine conversion growth. This book is fresh, inspiring, and deeply informed."
"Based on research, Rick debunks the myths that say the sky is falling on the Christian faith in America, and instead, he convincingly shows that people are actually more open to talking about spirituality than we thought. Read this book and you'll find yourself receiving practical help on raising up leaders and communities that can welcome those who don't yet follow Jesus!"
"By living in the negative numbers over the past three decades, I have come to realize through Rick's research that I have been part of the problem. Evangelism can be difficult without the depressing narrative of negativity often shared about the unreceptive and unchurched. Read this book and join a growing movement of leaders who are convinced that, by God's grace, we can and will reach the unchurched of this generation! Rick has been helping lead evangelism cohorts with our Austin pastors, and the emphasis and practical steps to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel is making a difference in our church and community!"
"I am deeply encouraged to hear the research in this book that backs up my experience that people of diverse ethnicities in our cities are very receptive to the gospel and the church. Not only was I encouraged but I was also helped to know what to do about that receptivity so we can serve and reach more people."
"Jesus calls every local church to be a missional community of disciples who make disciples, experiencing growth primarily through the conversion of new disciples rather than the transfer of existing ones. Yet too many churches have given up hope that they can be missionally effective with today's emerging generation. Through rock-solid research and decades of on-the-ground experience, Rick reveals how the most fruitful churches of our time are effectively making and multiplying disciples in a rapidly changing culture, and he shows us exactly how we can do the same. This book is a must-read for every Christian leader."
"At a time when many are assuming that the Christian movement across America is down for the count, Rick Richardson provides far more than a ray of hope. In his new book, You Found Me, Rick describes the strategies that the top 10 percent of churches growing through actual conversion (conversion communities) are using to make headway in evangelism, living out and joyfully sharing the good news. In my hometown of Portland, Oregon, a proudly progressive and unchurched place, we've seen great gospel progress through active engagement with our community, which is seeking to continually encourage and equip everyday believers to share their faith. Unchurched people are far more open than we give them credit for. There's so much more we can do to share in the harvest, which Jesus continues to assure us is ripe and ready!"
"I have long believed women and men, rooted in Scripture, passionate about the gospel, and sensitive to the Holy Spirit, can reach and change the world. Rick's book will help equip you to do it! May God raise up many leaders from among this generation who powerfully and effectively share and show their faith! I love this book."
"Rick Richardson is a true champion of the faith. His fire for evangelism and passion for the lost are inspiring. He has spent decades promoting evangelism among the students of Wheaton College as professor of evangelism and leadership, and he has blessed me personally with his care and concern for the lost, especially for the younger generation. I'm glad he wrote this book, and I pray it moves many to take a more active role in sharing their faith."
"Let's be honest, those who have a passion for meticulous research and detailed data can end up writing books that are slow or dry (though often very helpful). This is not such a book! Rick Richardson writes with the heart of a pastor, the mind of a scholar, and the passion of an evangelist. It is rare to find a book with excellent research that is a page-turner, but this is such a book. As you read, you will learn information needed to reach out effectively, you will have your heart ignited for the gospel, and you will be equipped to mobilize others to bring the amazing good news of Jesus to our world."
"There is no one I trust more as a guide for evangelism than my friend Rick Richardson. Rick and I have been in conversation for years about what it will take to reach people and disciple them in our contemporary culture. I am excited to see this book, based on wide-ranging, national research, come out. The spiritual sky is not falling. Rick will show you why. You Found Me will stimulate your imagination, enthuse and reshape your practice of spiritual conversations, and guide you to being simultaneously humble and fruitful."
"God's people were made for more. The solid and insightful new research in this book will equip your church for more kingdom impact. Furthermore, if you want to understand what God is doing in our time here in the West, you need to read this book."
"This book is good news about the good news—people are much more open to the gospel than we've been told! With clarity, conviction, and carefully researched data, Rick Richardson provides inspiration and practical ideas to help us reach more and more people for Christ."
"I love Rick's vision and his wisdom for helping create conversion communities, where the Holy Spirit moves powerfully and lives are transformed regularly. We are seeing this on college campuses across the country. Rick's impressive research is grounded in honest success and failure stories of local churches figuring this out as well. May God use this book to help churches everywhere experience more of God's ripe harvest in our lifetime."
"Few books have the potential to change the conversation like this book could. And for a church that has lost its sense of mission, I can't imagine a more important conversation to change. My prayer is that this book encourages many churches to reclaim their passion for the gospel and their voice to share it."
Foreword by Ed Stetzer
1. Introduction: The Challenge Congregations Face in America
Part 1: Recovering a Missional Imagination for the Unchurched in America
2. Exposing Common Myths About Unchurched Americans
3. Embracing a New Narrative About the Unchurched
4. Engaging the Receptive Millennials, Nones, and Nominals in Your Life
5. Exploring the Conversion Community Equation
Part 2: Developing Missional Leaders
6. Modeling Outreach Others Can Imitate
7. Multiplying Missional Leaders
Part 3: Cultivating a Missional Congregation
8. Belonging to the Broader Community
9. Blessing the World to Reach the World
10. Bringing the Community to Church
11. Building a Community of the Beloved Through Hospitality
12. Conclusion: From a Conversion Community to a Conversion Movement
Appendix 1: Billy Graham Center Resources
Appendix 2: Contributing Research Projects