When I was in Gosselink’s Christian Bookstore in Pella a few weeks ago with my intern, Tim, I noticed this book and the title caught my eye so I decided to purchase it after looking it over.

A few days after that, with this book still on my bookshelf unopened Brandon Barker highly encouraged those who attended the September M.A.N.Y. (Metro Area Network of Youthworkers) meeting to read it.  He also plugged it on his blog.

So I finally started to read  UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…And Why It Matters  by David Kinnaman of the Barna Research Group and Gabe Lyons of the Fermi Project.  This book was the result of a study of older Mosaics (born between 1984 and 2002) and younger Busters (born between 1965 and 1983) so they surveyed primarily 16 to 29-year-olds outside the Christian faith.  This being so they have applied the label “outsiders to this particular group.  This group represents 40% of an age group that consists of 24 million people in the United States.

Kinnaman and Lyons said that their research of this group shows:

“That many outside of Christianity, especially younger adults, have little trust in the Christian faith, and esteem for the lifestyle of Christ followers is quickly fading among outsiders.  They admit their emotional and intellectual barriers go up when they are around Christians, and they reject Jesus because they feel rejected by Christians.”

This is in stark contrast to the esteem that the early followers of Christ had when God was adding to the Church’s number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47).  The first line of the book proclaims that, “Christianity has an image problem.”  They further explain.

“Often outsiders’ perceptions of Christianity reflect a church infatuated with itself.  We discovered that many Christians have lost their heart for those outside the faith.  The negative perceptions are not just ‘images’ conjured up to debase Christianity.”

When we lose our heart for those outside we no longer seek to engage.  We don’t show compassion.  We become “cactus Christians” or as Jesus would say, “we lost our saltiness”, (Matthew 5:13).  The issues are complex with this group and the authors go on to say that it isn’t always our (Christians) fault… we cannot, however, ignore our part of the problem.

“We are not responsible for outsiders’ decisions, but we are accountable when our actions and attitudes misrepresenting a holy, just and loving God – have pushed outsiders away…. the title reflects outsiders’ most common reaction to the faith: they think Christians no longer represent what Jesus had in mind, that Christianity is our society is not what it was meant to be.”

Kinnaman and Lyons state that in order to engage nonChristians and point them to Jesus, we have to seek understanding and engage them based on what they really think not our assumptions about them.  Ignoring their perceptions will not help to overcome their hostility.  “We need to understand their unvarnished views of us.”

They also share what, as Christians, our task should be.

“Our task is to be effective agents of spiritual transformation in people’s lives, whatever that may cost in time, comfort, or image.  Yet we have to realize that if the enormous number of Christians in this country has not achieved the level of positive influence hoped for, it’s not the fault of a skeptical culture.”

They also shared that UnChristian is “designed to be a mirror for you to see yourself and your faith reflected more clearly.”  Are we ready for what we see?

I want to encourage those of you who read this post and the ones to follow to comment and engage in a conversation with me regarding the implications of this book for the Church and its approach to evangelism.  Some questions that I have that I’d love comments on are:

  • If you are one of those that Kinnaman and Lyons would describe as “outsiders” how do you feel about this label?

  • What is your perception of the Church and Christians?

  • If you are a Christian, how is your heart toward people outside of the Church?  How is your local church’s heart toward those who don’t know Christ?

  • General comments are always welcome as well!

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46 comments
  1. Jesus saved and changed my life in 1974 (since then continually). This could happen because some faithfull Christians spent their time out in the streets, passing out tracts to Hippies like me (what I was at that time).

    It is truly a blessing to be a continual personal witness, for others. So there is nothing to worry about. Instead of reading the mentioned book above, I would advise to memorize verses, psalms etc. from the bible, and then … as someone said: “The best bible is the one bound in shoe leather.” 🙂

    So I pray for you to be a brave witness and wish you the best! GBY!

  2. Jesus saved and changed my life in 1974 (since then continually). This could happen because some faithfull Christians spent their time out in the streets, passing out tracts to Hippies like me (what I was at that time).

    It is truly a blessing to be a continual personal witness, for others. So there is nothing to worry about. Instead of reading the mentioned book above, I would advise to memorize verses, psalms etc. from the bible, and then … as someone said: “The best bible is the one bound in shoe leather.” 🙂

    So I pray for you to be a brave witness and wish you the best! GBY!

  3. Jesus saved and changed my life in 1974 (since then continually). This could happen because some faithfull Christians spent their time out in the streets, passing out tracts to Hippies like me (what I was at that time).

    It is truly a blessing to be a continual personal witness, for others. So there is nothing to worry about. Instead of reading the mentioned book above, I would advise to memorize verses, psalms etc. from the bible, and then … as someone said: “The best bible is the one bound in shoe leather.” 🙂

    So I pray for you to be a brave witness and wish you the best! GBY!

  4. Jesus saved and changed my life in 1974 (since then continually). This could happen because some faithfull Christians spent their time out in the streets, passing out tracts to Hippies like me (what I was at that time).

    It is truly a blessing to be a continual personal witness, for others. So there is nothing to worry about. Instead of reading the mentioned book above, I would advise to memorize verses, psalms etc. from the bible, and then … as someone said: “The best bible is the one bound in shoe leather.” 🙂

    So I pray for you to be a brave witness and wish you the best! GBY!

  5. Hi thanks for your comment. I agree with you that we need to get out and share the love of Christ. I also agree with you that knowledge of scripture is a must in evangelism (and living the Christian life – which I do by the way). That doesn’t mean we can or shouldn’t learn from other books, brother.

    The best witness is one that is relational. Friends share best with friends. Not only that the point of this book is the perception that we have of being “UnChristian” due to our conduct. I can’t defend the book since I haven’t read all of it yet.

    I would encourage you to keep coming back to this blog to check out the different summaries I have written.

  6. Hi thanks for your comment. I agree with you that we need to get out and share the love of Christ. I also agree with you that knowledge of scripture is a must in evangelism (and living the Christian life – which I do by the way). That doesn’t mean we can or shouldn’t learn from other books, brother.

    The best witness is one that is relational. Friends share best with friends. Not only that the point of this book is the perception that we have of being “UnChristian” due to our conduct. I can’t defend the book since I haven’t read all of it yet.

    I would encourage you to keep coming back to this blog to check out the different summaries I have written.

  7. Hi thanks for your comment. I agree with you that we need to get out and share the love of Christ. I also agree with you that knowledge of scripture is a must in evangelism (and living the Christian life – which I do by the way). That doesn’t mean we can or shouldn’t learn from other books, brother.

    The best witness is one that is relational. Friends share best with friends. Not only that the point of this book is the perception that we have of being “UnChristian” due to our conduct. I can’t defend the book since I haven’t read all of it yet.

    I would encourage you to keep coming back to this blog to check out the different summaries I have written.

  8. Hi thanks for your comment. I agree with you that we need to get out and share the love of Christ. I also agree with you that knowledge of scripture is a must in evangelism (and living the Christian life – which I do by the way). That doesn’t mean we can or shouldn’t learn from other books, brother.

    The best witness is one that is relational. Friends share best with friends. Not only that the point of this book is the perception that we have of being “UnChristian” due to our conduct. I can’t defend the book since I haven’t read all of it yet.

    I would encourage you to keep coming back to this blog to check out the different summaries I have written.

  9. “If you are one of those that Kinnaman and Lyons would describe as “outsiders” how do you feel about this label?” (Shane)

    I think the label is not be-fitting (for me) since I feel since I left church I have a better view of God and humanity. I guess I am an outsider to church culture but I am more than glad to be considered that – since l do agree with the comments from the book.

    But outsider is a way for the church to keep playing semantics with their divisionary lines of ‘us and them’. There is no ‘us and them’ and that’s one of the core problems with attending church.

    “What is your perception of the Church and Christians?” (Shane)

    I think the church is becoming old and out of date – it lacks within it’s system the relevance it may have held once. It’s become a breeding ground for country, business, and upholding status quo – and rarely challenges anything except for homosexuality, abortion, and seperation of church and state. It’s a very narrow field they focus on.

    I think a lot of Christians are really fine and upstanding people – no doubt – sometimes they even resemble the highest values a society can aspire to. That being said, a lot of them are also clones of the one true Christian – the pastor. There also seems to be some fakery in the faith – people act ‘too nice’ or are ‘too invested in their emotions’ or ‘not invested in their emotions enough’ – people struggle with being themselves it seems (since they are supposed to deny themselves). But in general, the problem is the structure and not so much the people…they are only being what they are shown – close minded.

    “they think Christians no longer represent what Jesus had in mind, that Christianity is our society is not what it was meant to be.”

    I agree with this statement 100%. I am not sure what parts of this faith are actually in the gospel and which are not anymore. The church will sell you Jesus as a ‘macho man’ if they can get your *ss in church that Sunday. Church is about marketing and capitalism these days – it’s such a shade of what it seems to be in Acts/gospels.

    Problem is church people know this and then make excuses for all the inherent problems of the system – they don’t address the problem(s) – it’s just ‘par for the course’. The church has a horrible record of being accountable to the people plain and simple – it’s theocratic in nature – and then theocracy passes on the humans somehow and the leaders can’t be wrong. It’s a joke through and through. Churches are becoming irrelevant and this is of their own design/choice.

    Can it change is the real question and if so – who do I approach?

  10. “If you are one of those that Kinnaman and Lyons would describe as “outsiders” how do you feel about this label?” (Shane)

    I think the label is not be-fitting (for me) since I feel since I left church I have a better view of God and humanity. I guess I am an outsider to church culture but I am more than glad to be considered that – since l do agree with the comments from the book.

    But outsider is a way for the church to keep playing semantics with their divisionary lines of ‘us and them’. There is no ‘us and them’ and that’s one of the core problems with attending church.

    “What is your perception of the Church and Christians?” (Shane)

    I think the church is becoming old and out of date – it lacks within it’s system the relevance it may have held once. It’s become a breeding ground for country, business, and upholding status quo – and rarely challenges anything except for homosexuality, abortion, and seperation of church and state. It’s a very narrow field they focus on.

    I think a lot of Christians are really fine and upstanding people – no doubt – sometimes they even resemble the highest values a society can aspire to. That being said, a lot of them are also clones of the one true Christian – the pastor. There also seems to be some fakery in the faith – people act ‘too nice’ or are ‘too invested in their emotions’ or ‘not invested in their emotions enough’ – people struggle with being themselves it seems (since they are supposed to deny themselves). But in general, the problem is the structure and not so much the people…they are only being what they are shown – close minded.

    “they think Christians no longer represent what Jesus had in mind, that Christianity is our society is not what it was meant to be.”

    I agree with this statement 100%. I am not sure what parts of this faith are actually in the gospel and which are not anymore. The church will sell you Jesus as a ‘macho man’ if they can get your *ss in church that Sunday. Church is about marketing and capitalism these days – it’s such a shade of what it seems to be in Acts/gospels.

    Problem is church people know this and then make excuses for all the inherent problems of the system – they don’t address the problem(s) – it’s just ‘par for the course’. The church has a horrible record of being accountable to the people plain and simple – it’s theocratic in nature – and then theocracy passes on the humans somehow and the leaders can’t be wrong. It’s a joke through and through. Churches are becoming irrelevant and this is of their own design/choice.

    Can it change is the real question and if so – who do I approach?

  11. “If you are one of those that Kinnaman and Lyons would describe as “outsiders” how do you feel about this label?” (Shane)

    I think the label is not be-fitting (for me) since I feel since I left church I have a better view of God and humanity. I guess I am an outsider to church culture but I am more than glad to be considered that – since l do agree with the comments from the book.

    But outsider is a way for the church to keep playing semantics with their divisionary lines of ‘us and them’. There is no ‘us and them’ and that’s one of the core problems with attending church.

    “What is your perception of the Church and Christians?” (Shane)

    I think the church is becoming old and out of date – it lacks within it’s system the relevance it may have held once. It’s become a breeding ground for country, business, and upholding status quo – and rarely challenges anything except for homosexuality, abortion, and seperation of church and state. It’s a very narrow field they focus on.

    I think a lot of Christians are really fine and upstanding people – no doubt – sometimes they even resemble the highest values a society can aspire to. That being said, a lot of them are also clones of the one true Christian – the pastor. There also seems to be some fakery in the faith – people act ‘too nice’ or are ‘too invested in their emotions’ or ‘not invested in their emotions enough’ – people struggle with being themselves it seems (since they are supposed to deny themselves). But in general, the problem is the structure and not so much the people…they are only being what they are shown – close minded.

    “they think Christians no longer represent what Jesus had in mind, that Christianity is our society is not what it was meant to be.”

    I agree with this statement 100%. I am not sure what parts of this faith are actually in the gospel and which are not anymore. The church will sell you Jesus as a ‘macho man’ if they can get your *ss in church that Sunday. Church is about marketing and capitalism these days – it’s such a shade of what it seems to be in Acts/gospels.

    Problem is church people know this and then make excuses for all the inherent problems of the system – they don’t address the problem(s) – it’s just ‘par for the course’. The church has a horrible record of being accountable to the people plain and simple – it’s theocratic in nature – and then theocracy passes on the humans somehow and the leaders can’t be wrong. It’s a joke through and through. Churches are becoming irrelevant and this is of their own design/choice.

    Can it change is the real question and if so – who do I approach?

  12. “If you are one of those that Kinnaman and Lyons would describe as “outsiders” how do you feel about this label?” (Shane)

    I think the label is not be-fitting (for me) since I feel since I left church I have a better view of God and humanity. I guess I am an outsider to church culture but I am more than glad to be considered that – since l do agree with the comments from the book.

    But outsider is a way for the church to keep playing semantics with their divisionary lines of ‘us and them’. There is no ‘us and them’ and that’s one of the core problems with attending church.

    “What is your perception of the Church and Christians?” (Shane)

    I think the church is becoming old and out of date – it lacks within it’s system the relevance it may have held once. It’s become a breeding ground for country, business, and upholding status quo – and rarely challenges anything except for homosexuality, abortion, and seperation of church and state. It’s a very narrow field they focus on.

    I think a lot of Christians are really fine and upstanding people – no doubt – sometimes they even resemble the highest values a society can aspire to. That being said, a lot of them are also clones of the one true Christian – the pastor. There also seems to be some fakery in the faith – people act ‘too nice’ or are ‘too invested in their emotions’ or ‘not invested in their emotions enough’ – people struggle with being themselves it seems (since they are supposed to deny themselves). But in general, the problem is the structure and not so much the people…they are only being what they are shown – close minded.

    “they think Christians no longer represent what Jesus had in mind, that Christianity is our society is not what it was meant to be.”

    I agree with this statement 100%. I am not sure what parts of this faith are actually in the gospel and which are not anymore. The church will sell you Jesus as a ‘macho man’ if they can get your *ss in church that Sunday. Church is about marketing and capitalism these days – it’s such a shade of what it seems to be in Acts/gospels.

    Problem is church people know this and then make excuses for all the inherent problems of the system – they don’t address the problem(s) – it’s just ‘par for the course’. The church has a horrible record of being accountable to the people plain and simple – it’s theocratic in nature – and then theocracy passes on the humans somehow and the leaders can’t be wrong. It’s a joke through and through. Churches are becoming irrelevant and this is of their own design/choice.

    Can it change is the real question and if so – who do I approach?

  13. societyvs – thank you for your comments and your honesty. I appreciate your candor.

    I think it can change, perhaps not to the extent that you would like since there are things that we can not change like the Gospel – the cross can be offensive, (Galatians 5:11) but those who are Christ-followers shouldn’t be with their conduct. That also doesn’t mean also affirming sinful behavior either, but to love those are are caught up in it.

    One example you gave was the Church’s response to Homosexuality – I admit that Christians have not done very well responding to homosexuals and it seems like the only way it is addressed is through protest. There are a few who do an excellent job reaching out in love – participating in AIDS walks and handing out water to participants, going to hospices to minister to AIDS patients, etc.

    I would encourage you to find a church in your area that are doing those things and attend. Though you will not find a perfect church – there is no such thing as perfection can not be attained this side of heaven.

    Anyway, I didn’t intend to provide a rebuttal to your comment. I do have a question though – I’m not entirely sure what you mean by the statements, “the only true Christian – the pastor” how is the pastor the only true Christian? Also, what do you mean by “the church will sell you Jesus as a ‘macho man'”?

    I hope you can come back to elaborate a bit.

    Again, thanks for your comment.

  14. societyvs – thank you for your comments and your honesty. I appreciate your candor.

    I think it can change, perhaps not to the extent that you would like since there are things that we can not change like the Gospel – the cross can be offensive, (Galatians 5:11) but those who are Christ-followers shouldn’t be with their conduct. That also doesn’t mean also affirming sinful behavior either, but to love those are are caught up in it.

    One example you gave was the Church’s response to Homosexuality – I admit that Christians have not done very well responding to homosexuals and it seems like the only way it is addressed is through protest. There are a few who do an excellent job reaching out in love – participating in AIDS walks and handing out water to participants, going to hospices to minister to AIDS patients, etc.

    I would encourage you to find a church in your area that are doing those things and attend. Though you will not find a perfect church – there is no such thing as perfection can not be attained this side of heaven.

    Anyway, I didn’t intend to provide a rebuttal to your comment. I do have a question though – I’m not entirely sure what you mean by the statements, “the only true Christian – the pastor” how is the pastor the only true Christian? Also, what do you mean by “the church will sell you Jesus as a ‘macho man'”?

    I hope you can come back to elaborate a bit.

    Again, thanks for your comment.

  15. societyvs – thank you for your comments and your honesty. I appreciate your candor.

    I think it can change, perhaps not to the extent that you would like since there are things that we can not change like the Gospel – the cross can be offensive, (Galatians 5:11) but those who are Christ-followers shouldn’t be with their conduct. That also doesn’t mean also affirming sinful behavior either, but to love those are are caught up in it.

    One example you gave was the Church’s response to Homosexuality – I admit that Christians have not done very well responding to homosexuals and it seems like the only way it is addressed is through protest. There are a few who do an excellent job reaching out in love – participating in AIDS walks and handing out water to participants, going to hospices to minister to AIDS patients, etc.

    I would encourage you to find a church in your area that are doing those things and attend. Though you will not find a perfect church – there is no such thing as perfection can not be attained this side of heaven.

    Anyway, I didn’t intend to provide a rebuttal to your comment. I do have a question though – I’m not entirely sure what you mean by the statements, “the only true Christian – the pastor” how is the pastor the only true Christian? Also, what do you mean by “the church will sell you Jesus as a ‘macho man'”?

    I hope you can come back to elaborate a bit.

    Again, thanks for your comment.

  16. “I think it can change, perhaps not to the extent that you would like since there are things that we can not change like the Gospel – the cross can be offensive” (Shane)

    But I also am not asking the church to eliminate it’s foundational teachings – the gospels and the cross idea are both good and have a lot to teach. What I am looking at it the system or structure of what church is now. One example I would use is this mega-church idea we see cropping up – complete with media and marketing units. It’s like a Wal-Mart for the faith believer – also driving out the competition (smaller congregations). Is church becoming a business model now? Those are the types of questions I pose more than anything.

    “I would encourage you to find a church in your area that are doing those things and attend” (Shane)

    I am looking into this – but alas – I was burned again. I was attending my brother’s church and it was going real good – I enjoyed it. Then they removed him as pastor for no good reason in my books (and now they are selling that church). So this didn’t help me any. But I am still open to the idea – I know I won’t find one I totally agree with but that’s life.

    “how is the pastor the only true Christian?” (Shane)

    I am not saying he is per se – but the image they are given as leader (usually without mistakes or not allowed to admit their flaws) makes people clone themselves in that image – or the image they think they see. Because who is teaching everyone in that model and given a special place? Wouldn’t it make sense to try to make your life match that of the person who seems the most ‘correct’? It happens quite a lot.

    “Also, what do you mean by “the church will sell you Jesus as a ‘macho man’”?” (Shane)

    Just mentioning a trend I see in this faith to make Jesus be ‘all things to all people’ (to borrow from Paul). Jesus can be into pretty much any hobby and this can be used as a tool to push the gospel message. I mentioned ‘macho man’ because this was one movement that just came out (it made a small media blurb) to make Jesus seem more macho to men in the faith. I also seen Jesus attached to skateboarding, rock music, hot rod cars, etc. It’s a big marketing focus to make Jesus look ‘hip’ or ‘cool’. This runs a lot deeper than this but I’ll leave at that minor stuff.

    I actually have little problems with the gospels and letters and all the stuff I read in there – I built my values on that message of Jesus. My problems are concerning seeing changes in the faith to get back to what the gospels actually say – and compare that with what we actually see in churches of North America. There are huge differences and we all know it.

    One just need read Acts 2 or Matthew 6 to see how different this all really is. I would like to think the church is blind or illiterate or something but that would be unrealistic – fact is they prefer to ignore or change the interpretation of what is written for any and all the greatness of the society around them. I can dig that – but they can admit it.

    To me, the discussion is important – churches run out people not like them (theologically) – one could say perhaps they are running out their very own prophets to uphold a system that is stagnant.

  17. “I think it can change, perhaps not to the extent that you would like since there are things that we can not change like the Gospel – the cross can be offensive” (Shane)

    But I also am not asking the church to eliminate it’s foundational teachings – the gospels and the cross idea are both good and have a lot to teach. What I am looking at it the system or structure of what church is now. One example I would use is this mega-church idea we see cropping up – complete with media and marketing units. It’s like a Wal-Mart for the faith believer – also driving out the competition (smaller congregations). Is church becoming a business model now? Those are the types of questions I pose more than anything.

    “I would encourage you to find a church in your area that are doing those things and attend” (Shane)

    I am looking into this – but alas – I was burned again. I was attending my brother’s church and it was going real good – I enjoyed it. Then they removed him as pastor for no good reason in my books (and now they are selling that church). So this didn’t help me any. But I am still open to the idea – I know I won’t find one I totally agree with but that’s life.

    “how is the pastor the only true Christian?” (Shane)

    I am not saying he is per se – but the image they are given as leader (usually without mistakes or not allowed to admit their flaws) makes people clone themselves in that image – or the image they think they see. Because who is teaching everyone in that model and given a special place? Wouldn’t it make sense to try to make your life match that of the person who seems the most ‘correct’? It happens quite a lot.

    “Also, what do you mean by “the church will sell you Jesus as a ‘macho man’”?” (Shane)

    Just mentioning a trend I see in this faith to make Jesus be ‘all things to all people’ (to borrow from Paul). Jesus can be into pretty much any hobby and this can be used as a tool to push the gospel message. I mentioned ‘macho man’ because this was one movement that just came out (it made a small media blurb) to make Jesus seem more macho to men in the faith. I also seen Jesus attached to skateboarding, rock music, hot rod cars, etc. It’s a big marketing focus to make Jesus look ‘hip’ or ‘cool’. This runs a lot deeper than this but I’ll leave at that minor stuff.

    I actually have little problems with the gospels and letters and all the stuff I read in there – I built my values on that message of Jesus. My problems are concerning seeing changes in the faith to get back to what the gospels actually say – and compare that with what we actually see in churches of North America. There are huge differences and we all know it.

    One just need read Acts 2 or Matthew 6 to see how different this all really is. I would like to think the church is blind or illiterate or something but that would be unrealistic – fact is they prefer to ignore or change the interpretation of what is written for any and all the greatness of the society around them. I can dig that – but they can admit it.

    To me, the discussion is important – churches run out people not like them (theologically) – one could say perhaps they are running out their very own prophets to uphold a system that is stagnant.

  18. “I think it can change, perhaps not to the extent that you would like since there are things that we can not change like the Gospel – the cross can be offensive” (Shane)

    But I also am not asking the church to eliminate it’s foundational teachings – the gospels and the cross idea are both good and have a lot to teach. What I am looking at it the system or structure of what church is now. One example I would use is this mega-church idea we see cropping up – complete with media and marketing units. It’s like a Wal-Mart for the faith believer – also driving out the competition (smaller congregations). Is church becoming a business model now? Those are the types of questions I pose more than anything.

    “I would encourage you to find a church in your area that are doing those things and attend” (Shane)

    I am looking into this – but alas – I was burned again. I was attending my brother’s church and it was going real good – I enjoyed it. Then they removed him as pastor for no good reason in my books (and now they are selling that church). So this didn’t help me any. But I am still open to the idea – I know I won’t find one I totally agree with but that’s life.

    “how is the pastor the only true Christian?” (Shane)

    I am not saying he is per se – but the image they are given as leader (usually without mistakes or not allowed to admit their flaws) makes people clone themselves in that image – or the image they think they see. Because who is teaching everyone in that model and given a special place? Wouldn’t it make sense to try to make your life match that of the person who seems the most ‘correct’? It happens quite a lot.

    “Also, what do you mean by “the church will sell you Jesus as a ‘macho man’”?” (Shane)

    Just mentioning a trend I see in this faith to make Jesus be ‘all things to all people’ (to borrow from Paul). Jesus can be into pretty much any hobby and this can be used as a tool to push the gospel message. I mentioned ‘macho man’ because this was one movement that just came out (it made a small media blurb) to make Jesus seem more macho to men in the faith. I also seen Jesus attached to skateboarding, rock music, hot rod cars, etc. It’s a big marketing focus to make Jesus look ‘hip’ or ‘cool’. This runs a lot deeper than this but I’ll leave at that minor stuff.

    I actually have little problems with the gospels and letters and all the stuff I read in there – I built my values on that message of Jesus. My problems are concerning seeing changes in the faith to get back to what the gospels actually say – and compare that with what we actually see in churches of North America. There are huge differences and we all know it.

    One just need read Acts 2 or Matthew 6 to see how different this all really is. I would like to think the church is blind or illiterate or something but that would be unrealistic – fact is they prefer to ignore or change the interpretation of what is written for any and all the greatness of the society around them. I can dig that – but they can admit it.

    To me, the discussion is important – churches run out people not like them (theologically) – one could say perhaps they are running out their very own prophets to uphold a system that is stagnant.

  19. Hi societyvs, welcome back!

    I understand what you are saying when you have burned by a church. I have as well, as a youth pastor in a church. It is painful. It stinks, but God for whatever reason instituted the Church (big C, not little – so I’m talking about those who have a relationship with Christ, not just a local congregation) to carry out His comission on earth and that is to make disciples, (Matthew 28:19-20).

    I disagree with the trend to make Jesus “be all things to all people” as that would change the message. He is who He is. I don’t think he was a whimpy guy though when you read through the Gospels. What you may be referring to is this:

    “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings,” (1 Corinithians 9:21-23, NIV).

    Paul didn’t want to change who Jesus was, but He wanted to explain the Gospel in a way that the people he was trying to minister to would understand.

    Your comment: “But I also am not asking the church to eliminate it’s foundational teachings – the gospels and the cross idea are both good and have a lot to teach. What I am looking at it the system or structure of what church is now. One example I would use is this mega-church idea we see cropping up – complete with media and marketing units. It’s like a Wal-Mart for the faith believer – also driving out the competition (smaller congregations). Is church becoming a business model now? Those are the types of questions I pose more than anything. ”

    I wonder the same thing. I don’t really want to defend that type of church model. I don’t believe growing bigger for bigger’s sake is healthy nor honoring to God. If the mentality is to reach more people for Christ in order to make more disciples… well you or I may not like the method, but at least I can’t fault the motivation.

    I agree with you that too many pastors are put on a pedestal where they either don’t want to be transparent (pride) or feel like they can’t confide in others within their congregation about their struggles. Then you see pastors either burn out or fall morally.

    I think some churches are realizing that they must change – that we have an image issue. I don’t think it is so much what we teach and believe as it is how we live.

    Thanks again for contributing to the discussion, keep coming back as I’ll be posting on this regularly (hopefully daily, but I don’t want to promise that :)).

  20. Hi societyvs, welcome back!

    I understand what you are saying when you have burned by a church. I have as well, as a youth pastor in a church. It is painful. It stinks, but God for whatever reason instituted the Church (big C, not little – so I’m talking about those who have a relationship with Christ, not just a local congregation) to carry out His comission on earth and that is to make disciples, (Matthew 28:19-20).

    I disagree with the trend to make Jesus “be all things to all people” as that would change the message. He is who He is. I don’t think he was a whimpy guy though when you read through the Gospels. What you may be referring to is this:

    “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings,” (1 Corinithians 9:21-23, NIV).

    Paul didn’t want to change who Jesus was, but He wanted to explain the Gospel in a way that the people he was trying to minister to would understand.

    Your comment: “But I also am not asking the church to eliminate it’s foundational teachings – the gospels and the cross idea are both good and have a lot to teach. What I am looking at it the system or structure of what church is now. One example I would use is this mega-church idea we see cropping up – complete with media and marketing units. It’s like a Wal-Mart for the faith believer – also driving out the competition (smaller congregations). Is church becoming a business model now? Those are the types of questions I pose more than anything. ”

    I wonder the same thing. I don’t really want to defend that type of church model. I don’t believe growing bigger for bigger’s sake is healthy nor honoring to God. If the mentality is to reach more people for Christ in order to make more disciples… well you or I may not like the method, but at least I can’t fault the motivation.

    I agree with you that too many pastors are put on a pedestal where they either don’t want to be transparent (pride) or feel like they can’t confide in others within their congregation about their struggles. Then you see pastors either burn out or fall morally.

    I think some churches are realizing that they must change – that we have an image issue. I don’t think it is so much what we teach and believe as it is how we live.

    Thanks again for contributing to the discussion, keep coming back as I’ll be posting on this regularly (hopefully daily, but I don’t want to promise that :)).

  21. Hi societyvs, welcome back!

    I understand what you are saying when you have burned by a church. I have as well, as a youth pastor in a church. It is painful. It stinks, but God for whatever reason instituted the Church (big C, not little – so I’m talking about those who have a relationship with Christ, not just a local congregation) to carry out His comission on earth and that is to make disciples, (Matthew 28:19-20).

    I disagree with the trend to make Jesus “be all things to all people” as that would change the message. He is who He is. I don’t think he was a whimpy guy though when you read through the Gospels. What you may be referring to is this:

    “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings,” (1 Corinithians 9:21-23, NIV).

    Paul didn’t want to change who Jesus was, but He wanted to explain the Gospel in a way that the people he was trying to minister to would understand.

    Your comment: “But I also am not asking the church to eliminate it’s foundational teachings – the gospels and the cross idea are both good and have a lot to teach. What I am looking at it the system or structure of what church is now. One example I would use is this mega-church idea we see cropping up – complete with media and marketing units. It’s like a Wal-Mart for the faith believer – also driving out the competition (smaller congregations). Is church becoming a business model now? Those are the types of questions I pose more than anything. ”

    I wonder the same thing. I don’t really want to defend that type of church model. I don’t believe growing bigger for bigger’s sake is healthy nor honoring to God. If the mentality is to reach more people for Christ in order to make more disciples… well you or I may not like the method, but at least I can’t fault the motivation.

    I agree with you that too many pastors are put on a pedestal where they either don’t want to be transparent (pride) or feel like they can’t confide in others within their congregation about their struggles. Then you see pastors either burn out or fall morally.

    I think some churches are realizing that they must change – that we have an image issue. I don’t think it is so much what we teach and believe as it is how we live.

    Thanks again for contributing to the discussion, keep coming back as I’ll be posting on this regularly (hopefully daily, but I don’t want to promise that :)).

  22. I’d like to know what they mean by they ‘feel rejected’ and what ‘being pushed away’ means. Before we look to ourselves to try to find our faults as we perceive them, we have to know exactly what is being spoken of.

    Do they feel like outsiders because Christians are ignoring them, being rude or not including them in activities? Or is it because we hold fast the to truths in Scripture about homosexuality, abortion, shacking up etc? It’s just too broad of a statement. We should not comment or react until we know exactly what we’re dealing with.

    We also have to remember that no matter what we do, it is the Holy Spirit’s power that will draw them, not us. It we are witnessing to someone in love, and truth, and they reject the message, it is not because we’re lacking or because we’re ‘bad’ Christians. It’s because we don’t have the power to change lives and transform hearts. So let’s be fair to ourselves.

    I agree with society – the church has become a marketing tool to package Jesus and make Him more palatable to our youth. This is demonic to its core! Rick Warren comes to mind. It is time to come out of her because so many churches are falling apostate. It’s time to get back to the Bible and the Holy Spirit’s teachings because that’s all you can trust.

  23. I’d like to know what they mean by they ‘feel rejected’ and what ‘being pushed away’ means. Before we look to ourselves to try to find our faults as we perceive them, we have to know exactly what is being spoken of.

    Do they feel like outsiders because Christians are ignoring them, being rude or not including them in activities? Or is it because we hold fast the to truths in Scripture about homosexuality, abortion, shacking up etc? It’s just too broad of a statement. We should not comment or react until we know exactly what we’re dealing with.

    We also have to remember that no matter what we do, it is the Holy Spirit’s power that will draw them, not us. It we are witnessing to someone in love, and truth, and they reject the message, it is not because we’re lacking or because we’re ‘bad’ Christians. It’s because we don’t have the power to change lives and transform hearts. So let’s be fair to ourselves.

    I agree with society – the church has become a marketing tool to package Jesus and make Him more palatable to our youth. This is demonic to its core! Rick Warren comes to mind. It is time to come out of her because so many churches are falling apostate. It’s time to get back to the Bible and the Holy Spirit’s teachings because that’s all you can trust.

  24. I’d like to know what they mean by they ‘feel rejected’ and what ‘being pushed away’ means. Before we look to ourselves to try to find our faults as we perceive them, we have to know exactly what is being spoken of.

    Do they feel like outsiders because Christians are ignoring them, being rude or not including them in activities? Or is it because we hold fast the to truths in Scripture about homosexuality, abortion, shacking up etc? It’s just too broad of a statement. We should not comment or react until we know exactly what we’re dealing with.

    We also have to remember that no matter what we do, it is the Holy Spirit’s power that will draw them, not us. It we are witnessing to someone in love, and truth, and they reject the message, it is not because we’re lacking or because we’re ‘bad’ Christians. It’s because we don’t have the power to change lives and transform hearts. So let’s be fair to ourselves.

    I agree with society – the church has become a marketing tool to package Jesus and make Him more palatable to our youth. This is demonic to its core! Rick Warren comes to mind. It is time to come out of her because so many churches are falling apostate. It’s time to get back to the Bible and the Holy Spirit’s teachings because that’s all you can trust.

  25. If you keep coming back to the blog – the book does go into further detail on that. The lastest post on chapter 2 (http://shanevanderhart.wordpress.com/2007/11/15/unchristian-chapter-two) does mention that some of it has to do with our biblical position, but a lot of it has to do with conduct as well. I agree with you that we can not take 100% of the blame, and there will be natural hostility because Jesus himself said that the world will hate us because of him, (Matthew 5:11).

    I think this book wants to encourage us to be sure that we are not adding more stumbling blocks than what there should be.

    “I agree with society – the church has become a marketing tool to package Jesus and make Him more palatable to our youth. This is demonic to its core! Rick Warren comes to mind.”

    While I don’t agree with everything Rick Warren says or does, I don’t believe demonizing him is real productive or charitable. Comments like that may be an example of how we are perceived. He is a brother in Christ and Saddleback Community Church is reaching many people for Christ.

  26. If you keep coming back to the blog – the book does go into further detail on that. The lastest post on chapter 2 (http://shanevanderhart.wordpress.com/2007/11/15/unchristian-chapter-two) does mention that some of it has to do with our biblical position, but a lot of it has to do with conduct as well. I agree with you that we can not take 100% of the blame, and there will be natural hostility because Jesus himself said that the world will hate us because of him, (Matthew 5:11).

    I think this book wants to encourage us to be sure that we are not adding more stumbling blocks than what there should be.

    “I agree with society – the church has become a marketing tool to package Jesus and make Him more palatable to our youth. This is demonic to its core! Rick Warren comes to mind.”

    While I don’t agree with everything Rick Warren says or does, I don’t believe demonizing him is real productive or charitable. Comments like that may be an example of how we are perceived. He is a brother in Christ and Saddleback Community Church is reaching many people for Christ.

  27. If you keep coming back to the blog – the book does go into further detail on that. The lastest post on chapter 2 (http://shanevanderhart.wordpress.com/2007/11/15/unchristian-chapter-two) does mention that some of it has to do with our biblical position, but a lot of it has to do with conduct as well. I agree with you that we can not take 100% of the blame, and there will be natural hostility because Jesus himself said that the world will hate us because of him, (Matthew 5:11).

    I think this book wants to encourage us to be sure that we are not adding more stumbling blocks than what there should be.

    “I agree with society – the church has become a marketing tool to package Jesus and make Him more palatable to our youth. This is demonic to its core! Rick Warren comes to mind.”

    While I don’t agree with everything Rick Warren says or does, I don’t believe demonizing him is real productive or charitable. Comments like that may be an example of how we are perceived. He is a brother in Christ and Saddleback Community Church is reaching many people for Christ.

  28. Great dialog! societyvs makes some great points and is very articulate. I’ll follow this dialog closely!
    Brent Thomas

  29. Great dialog! societyvs makes some great points and is very articulate. I’ll follow this dialog closely!
    Brent Thomas

  30. Great dialog! societyvs makes some great points and is very articulate. I’ll follow this dialog closely!
    Brent Thomas

  31. As an immigrant to the US, I have to say the “Christians” I have met in the US are the farthest thing I can imagine from what a real Christian is, and what I was brought up to think a Christian is. American Christians for the most part are full of hate and loathing for those who have a slightly different faith than they do, and especially those of different beliefs. They are not accepting of others, they are not open minded. They subscribe to the dumbest most narrow interpretations of the bible imaginable, that were rejected by religious scholars centuries ago. This kind of approach will eventually end in sorrow; driving people away, and pushing towards violent confrontation with secular interests and the Muslim world. Just disgusting. I have had 4 or 5 wonderful fundamentalist evangelical Christians screaming and cursing at me telling me that “love your neighbor as yourself” appears no place in the bible and parading around telling me that every word out of their mouths personally is the word of God and I am therefore not allowed to question anything they say. With this kind of approach, what else would you expect? You will reap what you sow. So pat yourselves on the back. You want to spread hate? You evangelicals are doing a great job.

  32. As an immigrant to the US, I have to say the “Christians” I have met in the US are the farthest thing I can imagine from what a real Christian is, and what I was brought up to think a Christian is. American Christians for the most part are full of hate and loathing for those who have a slightly different faith than they do, and especially those of different beliefs. They are not accepting of others, they are not open minded. They subscribe to the dumbest most narrow interpretations of the bible imaginable, that were rejected by religious scholars centuries ago. This kind of approach will eventually end in sorrow; driving people away, and pushing towards violent confrontation with secular interests and the Muslim world. Just disgusting. I have had 4 or 5 wonderful fundamentalist evangelical Christians screaming and cursing at me telling me that “love your neighbor as yourself” appears no place in the bible and parading around telling me that every word out of their mouths personally is the word of God and I am therefore not allowed to question anything they say. With this kind of approach, what else would you expect? You will reap what you sow. So pat yourselves on the back. You want to spread hate? You evangelicals are doing a great job.

  33. As an immigrant to the US, I have to say the “Christians” I have met in the US are the farthest thing I can imagine from what a real Christian is, and what I was brought up to think a Christian is. American Christians for the most part are full of hate and loathing for those who have a slightly different faith than they do, and especially those of different beliefs. They are not accepting of others, they are not open minded. They subscribe to the dumbest most narrow interpretations of the bible imaginable, that were rejected by religious scholars centuries ago. This kind of approach will eventually end in sorrow; driving people away, and pushing towards violent confrontation with secular interests and the Muslim world. Just disgusting. I have had 4 or 5 wonderful fundamentalist evangelical Christians screaming and cursing at me telling me that “love your neighbor as yourself” appears no place in the bible and parading around telling me that every word out of their mouths personally is the word of God and I am therefore not allowed to question anything they say. With this kind of approach, what else would you expect? You will reap what you sow. So pat yourselves on the back. You want to spread hate? You evangelicals are doing a great job.

  34. Tom,

    After reading your comment carefully it would seem that you are marked by the same charateristics that you accuse American Christians, specifically evangelicals with. While I will not defend the way you have been treated personally… I will say that you have had a very narrow experience of evangelical Christians – and, by the way, fundamentalism and evangelicalism are not one in the same.

    I would suggest that you would tone down the venom so we can have a civil discussion on this topic.

  35. Tom,

    After reading your comment carefully it would seem that you are marked by the same charateristics that you accuse American Christians, specifically evangelicals with. While I will not defend the way you have been treated personally… I will say that you have had a very narrow experience of evangelical Christians – and, by the way, fundamentalism and evangelicalism are not one in the same.

    I would suggest that you would tone down the venom so we can have a civil discussion on this topic.

  36. Tom,

    After reading your comment carefully it would seem that you are marked by the same charateristics that you accuse American Christians, specifically evangelicals with. While I will not defend the way you have been treated personally… I will say that you have had a very narrow experience of evangelical Christians – and, by the way, fundamentalism and evangelicalism are not one in the same.

    I would suggest that you would tone down the venom so we can have a civil discussion on this topic.

  37. I would also like to read the book.

    I think we should not attack unbelievers but pray for them and continue to minister to them prayerfully. When I was a young Christian, I appeared too eager to spread the good news and my friends withdrew from me. They have feelings and their own beliefs too. I have friends whom I invited to church who told me 10 years later that they are now Christians.

    About homo…, I talked to my muslim friend and asked what the Islamic faith teach about homo…, she said according to their scripture, God wiped out the town that practised homosexuality and it is people’s choice and the society accepts them as being born that way which are all wrong. Why attack only Christians? The muslims believe the same. She has not read the bible and she has misconceptions that Christianity supports homo, and unmarried living together… I had a lot of explanation to do.

  38. I would also like to read the book.

    I think we should not attack unbelievers but pray for them and continue to minister to them prayerfully. When I was a young Christian, I appeared too eager to spread the good news and my friends withdrew from me. They have feelings and their own beliefs too. I have friends whom I invited to church who told me 10 years later that they are now Christians.

    About homo…, I talked to my muslim friend and asked what the Islamic faith teach about homo…, she said according to their scripture, God wiped out the town that practised homosexuality and it is people’s choice and the society accepts them as being born that way which are all wrong. Why attack only Christians? The muslims believe the same. She has not read the bible and she has misconceptions that Christianity supports homo, and unmarried living together… I had a lot of explanation to do.

  39. I would also like to read the book.

    I think we should not attack unbelievers but pray for them and continue to minister to them prayerfully. When I was a young Christian, I appeared too eager to spread the good news and my friends withdrew from me. They have feelings and their own beliefs too. I have friends whom I invited to church who told me 10 years later that they are now Christians.

    About homo…, I talked to my muslim friend and asked what the Islamic faith teach about homo…, she said according to their scripture, God wiped out the town that practised homosexuality and it is people’s choice and the society accepts them as being born that way which are all wrong. Why attack only Christians? The muslims believe the same. She has not read the bible and she has misconceptions that Christianity supports homo, and unmarried living together… I had a lot of explanation to do.

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