After reading David Kinnaman’s Second book, You Lost Me, and loving it, I thought it would be good to go back and read his first book, UnChristian. After reading them both, I can honestly say that David Kinnaman is one of the most profound and reliable sources for addressing one of the greatest concerns facing the Church today – the loss of a generation.
While You Lost Me catalogs the response of young adults leaving the Church, UnChristian really captures the reasoning for why people in general are turned off toward Christians in the first place. David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons are two very thoughtful men who have spent a great deal of time studying and evaluating our culture. Their insight is not only profound, but critical for anyone attempting to contextualize the gospel within a generation.
The book starts out be making a very profound statement – The Church has an image problem. This is the kind of statement where many people will get hung up and argue about semantics. It’s an affront to the statuesque of many churches who want to keep their fingers in their ear and their children out of the public schools. But if a Church can’t get passed that statement, their may not be much hope for them to navigate through the challenges ahead.
The book is laid out to explain why the Church has an image problem. How younger generations see the church, whether right or wrong, is a huge barrier preventing the gospel from penetrating their culture. The Church is in a tug of war with society, both sides being far removed from center, and instead of having a positive impact on a generation, the Church’s actions have only widened the gap.
For years I was in a church where I stressed the importance of being more than just a closed off group, sheltered from society. As long as the unbelievers stepped out of their community and visited our church, they might hear the gospel. But then after hearing about grace, they would look around and wonder what else was required in order to be saved. Though we may be good at preaching grace, we have not been characterized as a gracious people.
There are six perceptions the young non-Christians have toward those within the Church. They are hypocritical, too focused on converts, antihomosexual, sheltered, too political, and judgemental. These are many of the themes we have raised here at WOTG as we look into the Church and see where we have mishandled the next generation. It’s obvious that there are a lot of areas which the Church takes pride in which are hindering them from expressing the gospel.
Some of the attacks levied at the Church may not accurately demonstrate our intentions, but that can easily be used as an excuse to do nothing different. We need to be willing to see ourselves from a different perspective. It’s easy to hide behind excuses which address why we aren’t doing more. We may even be exercising a great deal of effort to win the lost. But are we willing to ask if what we are doing is actually working?
Christians need to thoroughly consider the impact they are having on society. I hope that you would be willing to listen to the wisdom of some credible surveyors of our culture – David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. UnChristian deals with a reality that the Church must face, or else be obsolete. Unless your only ministry is in a nursing home, you need to read this book in order to prepare yourself for the challenges ahead. I highly recommend it.