unChristian: 1. The Backstory

Seeing Christianity from the Outside

Our research shows that many of those 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.1

It’s not a surprise that many have little trust in the Christian faith, but digging into the details Kinnaman and Lyons explore this concern through many lenses. The Backstory explains how Gabe Lyons confided in David Kinnaman about his calling to explore these issues and to reveal them to other Christ followers who certainly have a sense that this is the case, but really don’t understand the nature of the problem.

Why unChristian?

Outsiders, those who are not part of the Christian faith, see Christ through our actions, our words and deeds, especially the negative press, and find little to compel them to be a part of the Christian community. Quoting Bible verses isn’t helpful in bridging this gap. Building relationships based on love and trust matters–not viewing people as projects. We have a lot to learn from the data presented in this book. So here we have evidence of outsiders’ reactions to Christianity. This is an opportunity to listen and learn. We must be willing to engage, not just throw our hands up and quit. Christ called us to make disciples and He promised it was not going to be easy.

New Directions

Terms and definitions are required to discuss perspectives used throughout this book. It’s always risky to apply a label, so the authors have chosen terms that are meant to avoid derogatory connotations.

  • Outsiders. This group includes atheists, agnostics, those affiliated with a faith other than Christianity (such as Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Mormonism, and so on), and other unchurched adults who are not born-again Christians.
  • Mosaics. Those born between 1984 and 2002.
  • Busters. Those born between 1965 and 1983.

The primary focus of this book is on those between 16 and 29 years old, the Mosaics and Busters because they comprise a huge portion of our population and they are the generation that will be running the country when we’re old and retired!!

While the focus seems to be on outsiders, it appears that many Mosaics and Busters that are Christ-followers are skeptical of present-day Christianity–they are feeling the heat of negative perceptions. In my mind this is a huge call for discipleship that we (as the elder population) need to take seriously.

And so the journey begins. My prayer is that God will open my eyes to the great opportunities that are revealed in this book, that the size and scope of the problem keep me up at night as I wrestle with understanding what one person can do to affect change that is so desperately needed.

 

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1 Kinnaman, David; Lyons, Gabe (2007-10-01). unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why It Matters (p. 11). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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