Monday, September 8, 2008

My Generation and "The Churched"

...The study shows that only 3% of 16 - to 29-year-old non-Christians express favorable views of evangelicals.

I'm in the midst of reading a book called unChristian, by David Kinnaman, the president of The Barna Group (good recommendation, Ron!). It studies Christianity's "slipping image" among young people. These people don't necessarily have a negative impression of Jesus, they just have a negative impression of CHRISTIANS.

I think that says something that we seriously need to take a look at. We discussed some of these same impressions back on this post.

Common negative perceptions include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%).

The "hypocritical" and "old-fashioned" doesn't surprise me. But three fourths believe that present-day Christianity is too involved in politics? Do American evangelicals need to seriously rethink their approach?

When young people were asked to identify their impressions of Christianity, one of the common themes was "Christianity is changed from what it used to be" and "Christianity in today’s society no longer looks like Jesus." These comments were the most frequent unprompted images that young people called to mind, mentioned by one-quarter of both young non-Christians (23%) and born again Christians (22%).

Young people think that Christianity in today's society no longer looks like Jesus. What does that tell us?


Big Doofus said...

It tells us nothing.

Joe B said...

It tell us that Christianity doesn't look like they think Jesus looks.

I'm usually not too impressed by "anti" opinions -- I remember too vividly how I used to excuse myself by accusing Christians.

But when young "Barna Evangelicals" agree with young unChristians, we should pay attention (they are us, after all, only younger.)

What you see depends partly on what you're looking at, and partly on where you're standing. From the perspective of younger folks, they are not seeing Jesus in the Church.

The church is very different than it was when I hatched out of my egg 25 years ago at age 20. The world is also very different. And the young people are different.

Things look different. Things are different. Jesus is very adaptable, but Christians sometimes are not.

Robbie said...

Well, here's an article I wrote for my church newsletter last month that is somewhat related to the topic.

Summer is quickly coming to a close. It’s wild how fast the seasons come and go. Summer is my favorite time of the year because I love seeing people outside: riding their bicycles, jogging, walking, or merely sitting on their porch in the evening with their spouse. When I see people doing these things, it sends a sense of happiness through me. I love to see people enjoying life.

I had a wonderful opportunity this spring to travel to Miami, FL for a mission trip. While in Miami, our mission team had the chance to go down to Bayside and walk around. There was a mariachi band playing and a big crowd of people sitting around the stage listening to the music. In front of everyone there was one couple that decided they wanted to take full advantage of this experience. They decided to get to their feet and begin dancing. Again, just seeing this couple dancing hand-in-hand with one another, it sent a sense of happiness through my body. When this one couple began their dance, it inspired many others to get to their feet and take advantage of the moment they had to dance with their partner.

The couple that started the dance didn’t invite anyone to dance with them; they didn’t worry about the possible embarrassment of being in front of a large crowd; and they surely didn’t worry about feeling out of place. They were enjoying the moment that they had been given to dance together, and that simple act made others want to join in on their enjoyment of life.

It seems to me as though the Church should render the same enjoyment of life as this couple that began dancing. If we began to truly love God and love one another as Christ loves us, perhaps then the world would see the happiness and enjoyment that God intended for his Church. Then, perhaps the world would join in the dance with us.

Joe B said...

I love Miami.

I don't know where the sternness of religion comes from. Is it from God?

I went through a stern phase early in my Christian life that set in around the time I started attending church. I stopped doing anything that was for enjoyment, and took great pleasure in it. I frowned on anyone else's enjoyment (I even observed that Christian music seemed a form of idolatry.)

As if I were on a tightrope, and anyone else who acted silly on or near my tightrope might make me fall. Some people stay on the tightrope forever.

Are they right?

In Sunday School the other day my class got on their periodic rant about how we mush first preach the bad news of hell in order to give meaning and purpose to the good news of salvation. that the way of Christ?

the unMonks said...

Yes, that was pretty unrelated. I am not noted for coherence.

Joe B said...

Now THAT was wierd!

scott said...

I love it when your split personalities make themselves known.

I think what is important is what you said about us needing to take notice when young CHRISTIANS agree with all of this stuff. And that's one of the points of the book. This isn't just some bitter young people making up stories in their heads. This isn't even necessarily a MISperception. It's what many people see and believe, and that TOTALLY affects how we must interact with them and tell them about Jesus.

Because they already KNOW about Jesus. It isn't the same as 1900 years ago when it might be all new to someone. They've got a lot of the knowledge, and they have a pre-existing barrier up. Not because of Jesus, but because of the people they know that claim to know Jesus.

Joe B said...

You're so NEGative.