“Christianity has an image problem.”
What if I told you that the top perception of Christians among those in Generation X and Mosaics was that we are first off, anti-homosexual, then hypocritical, judgmental, sheltered, too political and only interested in people if they’re going to convert. Would you be surprised? hurt? offended? Or does that sound about right?
It seems to be a far cry from Jesus’ prayer for us that we be known for our love. How come that’s not at the top of the list, followed by trustworthy, accepting, caring, loyal and gracious? Isn’t that what we want to be known for. . .
Almost exactly 15 years ago I met my first college roommate. I had traveled to California on my own with 2 suitcases and nothing more. I arrived in my dorm room before my roommate and sat in a very empty room. Several hours later Dave Kinnaman arrived with a cargo van full of stuff and a small army made up of his family to carry it all in. Dave’s memory is that I looked overwhelmed by all the stuff he was bringing into the room. I think my thoughts were somewhere along the lines of “oh good he’s got a stereo and a word processor.” Little did I know that one of my eventual lifelong friends was entering that room along with all of that stuff.
Dave and I stayed close throughout college and roomed again our senior year as we shared an apartment with 2 other guys. We have many memories of a number of antics that can’t be shared in a public blog. We served as groomsmen in each other’s weddings and welcomed each other’s children into our worlds. Since college we with a number of other friends have at times been in daily email contact as we’ve shared our takes on the latest in the sports world or felt the need to get any inane thought off of our chests. We’ve also prayed for one another and confided together as we have experienced the many up and down hills life has to offer.
For these reasons I am extremely excited that Dave has published his first book. “unChristian” Since college Dave has worked at The Barna Research Group and has now worked his way up to earn the title President. So he’s earned the right to be heard and in fact without knowing his name many Christians have been listening to what he has to say for quite some time. I’m also excited because I think it’s a message the Christian world needs to hear.
We are not presenting ourselves or Jesus to the world the way we would want to. As readers of this blog know, this is something I’m quite concerned about in regards to what Mormons think of mainstream Christians and something I am working to counteract. With startling sociological research Dave shows us just how off the mark our message has become to all younger Americans. What I really enjoy about the book is that he’s found a way to not condemn or criticize Christians for this turn in perception. But instead he simply states the facts and then leaves it the reader to question “is this what we want?” and more importantly “is this what Jesus wants?” He also does a skillful job of not encouraging us to water down our message or give up those things that are important to us.
Tim sad to say I think you were spot on.
Sounds like an interesting book, Tim. And of course any book is more interesting if you know the author’s story. Thanks for posting on it.
Neat. I think it’s easy for a movement to get hijacked by its extremists (or fringe elements if you prefer). I know this has happened with the evangelical-Mormon interface, but it’s possibly it’s happened with the evangelical outreach movement in general.
This problem is probably exacerbated by the non-centralized nature of evangelism. Sure James Dobson could “lay down the law” (or whichever figure you want to choose) but it wouldn’t be of much more impact than if say… Gov. Schwarzenegger in California came out in support of socialized health care. Persuasive yes, newsworthy yes, but not necessarily moving for a lot of folks.
Evangelism may be one of those religions where it is even MORE vital for the “silent majority” to make itself heard, since the risk of being hijacked by the fringe is so high.
I don’t think being de-centralized is the problem. I’d venture to guess that the same perceptions would be made about LDS.
Sure the comments could be applied to LDS (don’t ask me for names) to Islam, to Amway, or almost anything else.
IMHO it is our responsibility to NOT behave in the manner described above, but to be open and loving, to all.
hi tim. kinnaman here. thanks for the props on the book. i am really glad you liked “unchristian.” I thought it would be easy to write a book. my boss and mentor has written 39 books. and he cranks them out in a week or two. it took me three months of really hard work…but I am really excited by your reactions. david