unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity . . . and Why It Matters
A must-read for Everyone!
This is a tremendous work for anyone who wants to know what "outsiders" think. It caused me to look much closer at my life and how my faith is lived out publicly; how I can more distinctly reflect Christ to the unchurched and best represent the essence of the Gospel message. I used 'UnChristian" in small group discussion and we have had several engaging, thought-provoking conversations around the themes in this book. Highly recommended!
March 15, 2013
The Church Has Problems - This Book Can Help!
The Ã¢ÂÂunChristianÃ¢ÂÂ book was published after three years of research by the Barna group on non-Christian (and Christian) perspectives on modern day American Christianity. Barna is a pretty unique group, in that they do market research on all things related to Christianity, so that the American Church can better function.
Far too many Christians are playing the martyr card and highlighting examples of what happens in a world of extreme tolerance and pluralism. Many Christians are fearful of their rights being taken away or their voice no longer being heard. While I understand those concerns, BarnaÃ¢ÂÂs research should help open up the eyes of the average believe Ã¢ÂÂ that more and more young people are genuinely disillusioned by all things related to Christianity. The six main perceptions about Christians uncovered in their research Ã¢ÂÂ Christianity is hypocritical, judgmental, too political, isnÃ¢ÂÂt genuine, anti-homosexual and sheltered. They explain their research methodology, break down each of these negative perceptions and also include some other closing thoughts. Each chapter has feedback from well-known pastors/theologians with their own insights into each of these perceptions.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was fairly convicted throughout. The point of the text is not that Christians should be popular, but that when non-believers look in at us, they increasingly see nothing that looks like Jesus. This desperately needs to change and being aware of these perceptions is certainly a good starting place. Rather than take a Ã¢ÂÂWell I believe in the Bible, therefore I am always rightÃ¢ÂÂ approach, itÃ¢ÂÂs good to be aware of flaws and good to be aware of what simply does not work. Grace and humility are traits that many churches need to reclaim.
I used this book in a recent sermon series, dedicating six weeks to the six negative perceptions. It was challenging to talk about some of these ideas and it certainly was challenging to own up to our faults, but I think it was worth it in the end.
October 15, 2012
Wonderful, timely book!!! A must read!!!!
This book was part of 4 books recommended by our pastor ,at Burien Free Methodist Church, in Burein, Washington , for summer reading. Outstanding book, gave me lots to think about!!!
August 7, 2012
Helpful book but a few concerns
Christianity in secular culture is often portrayed in a very negative even hostile way on television or movies. Christians are called to represent Christ to the world. In UnChristian David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, two men who love the Gospel and the Church investigate how Christians are perceived as hypocritical, too focused on getting converts, antihomosexual, sheltered, too political, and judgmental.
The authorÃ¢ÂÂs purpose in this book Ã¢ÂÂis to open the hearts and minds of Christians, to prepare us to deal with a future where people will be increasingly hostile and skeptical toward us. A new generation is waiting for us to respondÃ¢ÂÂ (Kinnaman, Lyons, 14). The term Unchristian reflects Ã¢ÂÂoutsidersÃ¢ÂÂ most common reaction to the Christian faith. The author on this point comment that outsiders Ã¢ÂÂthey think Christians no longer represent what Jesus had in mind, that Christianity in our society is not what it was meant to be. For many people the Christian faith looks weary and threadbare. They admit they have a hard time actually seeing Jesus because of all the negative baggage that now surrounds themÃ¢ÂÂ (Kinnaman, Lyons, 15).
Being that I grew up in Seattle Washington an area of the United States that is known for being liberal and very secular, I can attest that much of the concerns expressed in this book are the view of the world. The purpose of this book is to help Christians to gain an understanding of the perception problem that the world has with Christianity today.
The main problem with this book is I donÃ¢ÂÂt see its approach taken in the New Testament. The Bible is clear that Christians should not put a stumbling block before other Christians (Romans 14-15) it is also teaches that the Cross is a stumbling block to the world (1 Corinthians 1). The problem with the approach the authors take in this book in my opinion is it leads to a fear of man rather than a fear of God. The Apostles for example before the Sanhedrin werenÃ¢ÂÂt concerned with what the Jewish leaders thought of them. Instead of thinking about what the Jewish leaders thought of them the Apostles told the Jewish leaders in Acts 4:19-20, Ã¢ÂÂBut Peter and John answered them, Ã¢ÂÂWhether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.Ã¢ÂÂ
The Apostles werenÃ¢ÂÂt concerned about how the Jewish leaders perceived them, but only with being faithful to what they had been taught in the life and ministry of Jesus. This is not to say that the approach of the authors isnÃ¢ÂÂt helpful as it is important for Christians to understand how the world perceives them as they live as sojourners in the world. Rather than helping Ã¢ÂÂopen the hearts and minds of ChristiansÃ¢ÂÂ the authors instead point Christians to how the world thinks of them, which doesnÃ¢ÂÂt help Christians to fear God but rather encourages them to have a fear of man.
Fear of man is unhealthy and unbiblical. By focusing on the concerns of the world Christians can easily begin to care more about what the world has to say than what God has to said in the Word of God. While the intent of the authors in this book is good, I have a further concern on who the authors choose to contribute their ideas to this book. Some of the contributors that the authors choose to contribute do not have a good reputation as solid Christian theologians in most parts of evangelicalism, which in my opinion diminishes the contribution of this book significantly.
Even with these concerns there is still much that the Church needs to consider from this book. The authors are right that Ã¢ÂÂthe church needs more people who facilitate a deeper, more authentic vision of the Christian faith in our pluralistic, sophisticated cultureÃ¢ÂÂ (Kinnaman, Lyons, 17). I appreciate how the authors state, Ã¢ÂÂMany modern-day Christians have lost touch with the all-encompassing gospel that goes beyond personal salvation and reaches every corner of society. When conversion growth is the single measure of success the hard work of discipleship gets ignored.Ã¢ÂÂ This gets to the heart of why Christianity has an image problem as Christians have forgotten who they are in Christ. In every letter Paul wrote he reminded Christians that they were sons and daughters of God. The authors are right that many Christians do not understand that the Gospel is for all of life.
At the heart of the book is the idea that Ã¢ÂÂto shift our reputation, Christ followers must learn to respond to people in the way Jesus did. In other words, to reverse the problem of unchristian faith, we have to see people, addressing their needs and their criticism, just as Jesus did. We have to be defined by our service and sacrifice, by lives that exude humility and grace. If young outsiders say they canÃ¢ÂÂt see Jesus in our lives, we have to solve our Ã¢ÂÂhidden JesusÃ¢ÂÂ problemÃ¢ÂÂ (Kinnaman, Lyons, 206).
The part I appreciate about this book is rather than bashing on the bride of Christ the authors genuinely want to help and strengthen the Church with the Gospel. The authors spend the last chapter discussing various ways to strengthen the church. In that chapter, I especially appreciated this comment by Dr. Rick Warren, Ã¢ÂÂMy dream is that thirty years from now, the church will be known more by what it is for than what it is against.Ã¢ÂÂ
UnChristian is a very challenging book that will challenge Christians to act consistently Christian. Christians are often known as the authors state for focusing too much on a political agenda or some other issue than the Gospel. Thankfully this is changing as many Christians are refocusing their attention on what the Gospel is and what the Gospel demands.
Even with the concerns IÃ¢ÂÂve noted about this book, I am still recommending this book, because I believe the goal of the authors to helpfully point people to the Gospel and to understand the issues the world has with Christianity today is important for Christians to consider. Read this book carefully but with an open Bible.
Title: UnChristian: What A New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity And Why It Matters
Authors: David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
Publisher: Baker Books (2007)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Books as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÃ¢ÂÂs 16 CFR, Part 255: Ã¢ÂÂGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.Ã¢ÂÂ
February 10, 2012