This one has been sitting in my reading pile for far too long. While only brief, I think it is one of the more important Christian books to be written in the last few years, and one that I would actually like all Christian leaders (actually, make that all Christians) to read and think about.
Quite simply, this book documents the results of a variety of surveys conducted on 16-29 year-olds in the United States to understand their attitudes towards Christianity. It was quite extensive, and covered both non-Christians and Christians. Dave Kinnaman is clearly a lover of statistics, and has done a great job, I think, of letting the results of the survey speak for themselves, rather than just putting in his opinions. Which is just as well, because the results that came back were pretty unflattering to Christians. I’d recommend reading the book to get into the details of it, but the summary of their findings were that most non-Christians aged between 16-29 though that Christians were:
Hypocritical – always telling people what they should and shouldn’t do, but then living however they wanted.
Only Focused on Seeing Non-Christians “Saved” – keen to see non-Christians get “saved”, come down the front, pray a prayer, or whatever form it might take; but not actually interested in them as people.
Antihomosexual – Christians don’t just teach against homosexuality (which this book wasn’t disagreeing with), but many Christians have used that as an excuse to treat gay people as second-class citizens (or worse).
Sheltered – Christians hide in a bubble and have no real proper interaction with the world.
Too Political – Christians are too focused on taking over America via Republican politics.
Judgmental - Christians are more interested in criticising everyone’s actions, rather than helping people, and display very little grace.
The interesting thing about most of these statistics was that a lot of young Christians would agree with the above as well. I would too. As the book goes into, it’s not saying that Christians should completely compromise on their doctrines or never get involved in politics, etc. But they are suggesting that the way we’ve treated people and the fact that we’re more known for who and what we don’t like rather than any positive contribution to society, should give us pause.
The authors have lots of helpful suggestions along the way for how we can reverse this image problem, without compromising, and I think if many of their suggestions were taken on board by Christians, we’d have a lot less negative press than we do. While I don’t believe that people are suddenly going to flock to church if all Christians start treating them nicely, I do believe that we’d be getting closer to what the Bible talks about in the book of 1 Peter, where Peter says that we should live such good lives among non-Christians that even if they don’t particularly like what we stand for, they will notice a difference and want to know more about God.
If it’s ideas are taken on board, I think it will become one of the most important books for the next generation of Christians.
4 1/2 out of 5.