The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated


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by James Emery White. Baker Books, 2014.

Make no mistake, this book’s emphasis is on “reaching,” not merely “understanding” the religiously unaffiliated. Written in two parts, from a self-consciously evangelical viewpoint, the book first presents an overview of who the “nones” are, focused on “truthiness,” “wikiality,” and the move from sin to understanding humans as prone to “mistakes”. White provides a theory of why the number of “nones” is increasing, and then offers a new approach for congregations interested in attracting them to membership. White relies on scripture for contextualizing this culture change, describing different circumstances of the early church, as recorded in the book of Acts. He sees the current landscape as a post-Christian one, and seeks to address the difference between reaching out to this new culture, and allowing the church to assimilate to it. The conservative viewpoint of this book may not work for some congregations, but this book might also serve as an interesting counter point to H. Richard Niebuhr’s classic “Christ and Culture”. The book includes discussion questions and is very accessible for congregations eager to evangelize “the unchurched.”

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