books christianity church theology

unChristian 2

Chapter 2 presents some of the research findings about the perceptions of outsiders toward believers (the terms “evangelicals” and “born again Christians” are used), and breaks down the rest of the book on the lines of six general themes:  hypocritical, too concerned with converts, antihomosexual, sheltered, too political, and judgmental.

  1. “The primary reason outsiders feel hostile towards Christians…is our “swagger”, how we go about things and the sense of self-importance we project.” ~Page 26

    Reflecting on this quote is a good exercise for me…the Gospel has no reason for pride whatsoever.  To have an inflated sense of self-importance is to completely misunderstand the Gospel of grace.

  2. “We have become famous for what we oppose, rather than who we are for” ~Page 26

    This quote points at the departure of the church from the Gospel toward cultural battles.  I do not think that this quote tells the whole story, and one must only look to the first chapters of Revelation to understand that cultural engagement is indeed necessary for faithfulness to the mission of God, and we will necessarily become known in some cases for what we oppose.  It is the supercession of religious activism over the core message of the Gospel which will get us into trouble…

  3. The book presents a finding that a significant portion of young people within the church share a similar viewpoint as those outside the church along the six themes presented above.  The insinuation of the authors is that much of the Christian message about absolute truth has been heard, but the message of grace has been lost.

    In my experience in the church, I would say that the opposite is true.  Much of the deficiency in ministries has been the lack in-depth instruction on the biblical Gospel, especially with respect to college ministry.  Most of our students hunger and thirst for Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated, challenging truths which demand their very lives.  The answer, in my experience, to what the authors deem “unChristian”, is passionate exposition of Scripture and faithful discipleship to a life of sacrifice.  I am curious to read more…

As a former scientist who recently made the leap into pastoral ministry, I am always thankful for rigorous research and the numbers this books presents.  Many of the conclusions in Chapter 2 I hope are expounded on later in the book with their statistical backing, expecially assertions like that in #1 above.

books christianity church theology

unChristian 1

Just started reading through the book unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons in anticipation of the Q conference here in Austin in April.  Here are my thoughts from Chapter 1:

  1. “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.” ~Page 14

    This book is a research-based analysis of the 16 to 29 year-old generation’s perception of Christianity, and how the church ought to respond.  I agree with the quote above, but my suspicion is that this book will do little to point us to the heart of the Gospel of grace as the solution to our perception.  Much of our “cultural exegesis” in pop-Christianity seems so narcissistic with respect to the church, devoid of any true interaction with a deep and rich Gospel of Christ.  It will be interesting to see how this book compares with David Wells’ Above All Earthly Powr’s, which was one of my favorite books of the last year, and a fantastic study on the actual worldview of whom this book labels “outsiders”, and an appropriate Gospel response to that worldview.

  2. I often wonder about the usefulness of large scale research in American Evangelicalism, and if it isn’t really a cop-out to actually engaging the real people around you.  Although these kinds of books are helpful at diagnosing broad, generational opinions, are they really that effective for shaping ministry?  Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to shape ministry around a more specific calling to minister to those whom God has placed you among?
  3. “Perhaps as you read this book, you will discover a more complete picture of Jesus, a transcendent, yet personal God who loves and accepts you perfectly, who wants to shape you and give your life deep meaning and purpose.” ~Page 20

    This statement echoes the Purpose-driven, seeker-sensitive sentimentality and strategy of ministry, which would make sense considering the two authors’ roots.  My initial impression of this book (which is based on no evidence whatsoever) is that it is simply the research methods of the seeker movement applied to a new generation.  I’ll keep reading to see if my presupposition holds true.

Hopefully blogging through this book will help me to process what I am reading, and be useful to anyone who might be considering reading it.