As the church today, we cannot afford to ignore what those outside of the church have to say about Christianity. unChristian is a book that has greatly influenced the way I view both the church and those outside of the church. unChristian is the story of “what a new generation really thinks about Christianity and why it matters.” The study is based on data and quotes taken from groundbreaking research from the Barna Group, which researches culture here in America today.
The research shows a shift in the way outsiders view the church over the past several decades. There was a day when even those who were not involved in church still viewed the church as a positive force in the world. Unfortunately, today much of the younger generation, ages 16-29, view the church as a negative force in the world today. The top ten views of church are antihomosexual, judgmental, hypocritical, old-fashioned, too involved in politics, out of touch, insensitive, boring, not accepting of others, and confusing. These are tough perspectives of which we must take note.
One of my favorite quotes in the book comes from a 29 year old named Eric who says, “Christianity seems like an old, broken down building that I have to drive by every day. I don’t even notice it even more.” The author if the book then claims that “Christianity seems blasé and commonplace. It has become an ignorable part of daily existence.” Gross! Who wants to be a part of something that carries these perceptions? This understanding of the church today is most likely the reason why I was so hesitant to claim my call into pastoral ministry for several years. I did not want to spend my life behind a black robe and pulpit, because I know how these are viewed by people today. I was afraid that entering the ministry would squash the personality that God gave me and would not allow me to be the full person that I am.
Fortunalty, I have learned over the past 4-5 years that there are new ways in which I can allow God to use me so that the church can sparkle and shine as a beacon for those looking for hope and something more in this life. I hope that the high school students who participated in the unChristian study last fall are learning the same. The church needs all kinds of people and personalities in order to thrive. The church for the next generation will look much different than the church of our parents, and if it does not, I am afraid that we have not done our God-given job in rearing a new generation of Christ-followers who desire to reach the outsider for Jesus.
Jesus died for the Outsiders too. He did not just save you from your sins. He is the savior of the world.