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Book Review: unChristian

OK, I'm exhausted. And my laptop battery is dying. This will be my last post before going to sleep.

My pastor recently recommended that I read unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters. I picked up a copy from the library and finished it a few days ago.

It's an interesting look at how the Christian faith is perceived by both Christians and non-Christians. It's easy for Christians to say that the perception shouldn't matter -- as long as we accurately represent God's word, we're doing the right thing. The truth, however, is that perceptions do matter, and that many Christians simply don't accurately represent God's word. As a result, we're turning off a whole bunch of people who otherwise might be attracted to Christianity.

The book is based on a huge study that was conducted by the Barna group, so there's a lot of discussion about what was learned by the study. It was informative to look at the data they gathered for the study and read their conclusions. The biggest conclusion is that there is a lot of work Christians need to do -- that the current image of Christianity is not representative of what Christianity is supposed to be, and that many people who call themselves Christian are doing a terrible job of both representing and acting on their faith. The book focuses on a handful of negative perceptions that people have about Christians, explains why those perceptions are reasonable for people to have, and presents possible solutions on how to start reversing those perceptions. No surprise here, most of the solutions involve having Christians start acting on their faith instead of merely giving it lip service.

All in all, I'm very glad that I read the book. Especially as we continue to work on the new service at church and seek to get unchurched people involved, I think it's going to be helpful that I read the book. If you're involved in ministry in any capability, I recommend that you give this book a look. It's a very easy read, and you can skip around in the chapters to read them in whatever order you like.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
prester_scott
Sep. 24th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
No surprise here, most of the solutions involve having Christians start acting on their faith instead of merely giving it lip service.

1. Yes, and that is a much more difficult and monumental task than I suspect even Barna knows.

2. If/When the Church ever does become that holy, be aware that she will have as many enemies as friends.
drmellow
Sep. 24th, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
1. I agree. The book presents a hopeful outlook, but it's an outlook that will definitely require a lot of work. It's not a task that will be completed soon, even if everyone agreed to intentionally work on it.

2. Again, I agree. The desire to avoid enemies is probably one of the problems that has brought us to where we are now.
tawnyleona
Sep. 24th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
Honestly, anyone with access to the internet knows what a bad perception non-christians have of christians. And how it's gone way past the point of no return. I'm sure that individuals can make a difference, but there are many whose minds shutter at the very mention...

My dad and I were talking the other day about how, for some reason, many Christians have it in their heads that they need to "spread the name of Jesus"...hello? Most people in the United States and the majority of the rest of the world have heard of the guy. You can stop just spreading his name. It's time to show what's different in your own life and getting people to ask YOU what it is that's so great about your life. Otherwise, you just get people instantly turned off and not listening because of all their bad experiences.
drmellow
Sep. 24th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
That's a pretty good high-level summary of what the book was saying. Christians have been trying to remove themselves from "the world" and create an us-vs-them mentality. That's completely the wrong idea, and it will take a lot to undo the damage that has been done from going down that line of thinking.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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