Working on a church staff, I deal with “church” people a lot. A lot.

Sometimes, we’re really cool. But sometimes we can be a bit quirky, especially to those outside of the faith. I mean, come on. We sometimes:

  • Overspiritualize everything
  • Spend 8 nights/week at church
  • Close our eyes mid-conversation and mutter things like, “Praise Him!” while raising our hand in the air and shaking it.
  • Brag about the new Bible app we just downloaded.
  • Judge someone for not going to church on Sunday, while we shove deep-fried potatoes down our throats by the handful.

And we tend to be wrong on our assessment of most people who are unbelievers. We think we know them because we used to be one. But we’ve quickly forgotten the way we thought about God, ourselves, and others. We’ve forgotten our past views on church, spirituality, and family. And it hurts our (the Church’s) reputation and perception in our community. It undercuts our opportunities to lead our friends towards Hope.

In turn, we treat them differently.

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image credit: CreationSwap user Ty Carlson, edits mine

bigot: verb, to treat someone differently based on your spiritual beliefs

We assume certain things about unbelievers that may or may not be true, and that drives our behavior towards them. In other words, we bigot them.

6 easy ways to bigot an unbeliever

1. Assume people hate God.

Most people don’t hate God, and aren’t antagonistic towards Him. They may be antagonistic towards you, and the way you’ve presented, and lived, the Truth. Especially if you’ve been forceful and pesky about it. But most people don’t hate God. Quit thinking that they do.

2. Assume they’re not curious about spiritual things.

Most people have thoughts and opinions about spiritual things. Most also have questions. Not necessarily questions that they want an academic theologian to answer. These are questions that they want you to answer. Some of these questions may be apologetic in nature (like inconsistencies in the Bible, or how the Bible and science line up), but many are much more practical in nature, like what God has to say about how to be a good parent. Or what it looks like to have purpose in life. Quit assuming people aren’t curious. Instead, be ready to give and answer…in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2)

3. Assume they love a good tract.

Nope. Stop it. You know they don’t. You don’t either. If someone stops by your house to try to sell you on something, and they give you a brochure on it, what do you do with that paperwork? You throw it away. *Don’t make sharing your faith harder than it has to be.

4. Assume they love to be preached at.

They don’t. You don’t. Nobody enjoys being preached at, and told why they’re wrong. Nobody wants to hear the 11 reasons, all starting with the letter ‘P,’ why they are being a bad parent, why church is the best place to be on Sunday morning, or why sleeping with their girlfriend is wrong. Instead of preaching at someone, try loving them. That’s a better apologetic anyway.

5. Assume they won’t join your small group.

You’d be surprised how open people are to coming over to your house to eat, study the Bible, and pray. Oftentimes, because of past hurts, people are hesitant to step a foot in a church building. But they’re not hesitant to grow closer to God. You’ve just got to make the ask.

6. Assume they won’t visit your church with you.

If you’ve built a relationship with someone, maybe it’s time to invite them to church with you. Don’t pressure them in to this, but make it relaxed. Maybe invite them to join you for lunch afterwards, or invite them on a Sunday you know will be conducive for people curious about faith. Stop assuming your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family won’t come to church with you. If you’ve done a good job building a relationship with them, loving them despite their shortcomings, you’d be surprised how far down the road of faith that’ll take you.

Can you think of anything else that we wrongly assume about non-Christians that drives our behavior and responses to wards them?