Unchristian – What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons

The C Bomb

By Bill Dahl

A book review of UNchristian – What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity – And Why It Matters

by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons – Published October 2007 by Baker Books

I was reading a blog recently and appreciated the author’s heartfelt apology about his inadvertent “church sucks” post. Trust me, we have all said and written stuff that we regret. It’s when we overlook the fact that we are all fallible (or we assume we are bulletproof), we’re really in trouble. I shared with the author that I was delighted to note that he is human, and a sensitive and lovable one at that. I welcomed him to the foot in mouth club – we’re ALL members (many of us have multiple memberships).

Yet, his apology for the “church sucks” post (“confession and repentance”) illuminated other issues for me (and I assume, many others). We have the A-bomb, the F-bomb, and whether we like it or not, we now have the “C-bomb.” The term “C-bomb” refers to Christians, Christianity and the Church. This is NOT my opinion. It is an empirically verifiable fact, as evidenced by the research conducted over the past several years by the Barna Group. I have also written extensively about my own personal struggle with the C-bomb. You can find some of my more cogent thoughts here: The Next Questians

This research is laid out in David Kinnaman’s newly released book (October 2007) entitled, UNchristianWhat a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity – And Why It Matters. Kinnaman has been George Barna’s protégé over the last 12 years and is President of the Barna Group, unequivocally the ongoing source of reliable social research about Christians, Christianity and the Church.

This book is sobering. I wept at certain parts of it. We Christians have made a mess of Christianity in North America and the established Church most certainly has its share of the blame. As Kinnaman says, “We can’t change what we are known for unless we change how we live.” (p. 231). This “living” includes the “life” of the Church. Kinnaman goes on to say that we must “discern how deep and serious the problems are, so that our missional engagement in the coming years won’t be more of the same.” (emphasis is mine).

We have to embrace the uncomfortable truth that the Church as an institution provides much of the momentum to preserve the status quo — more of the same. Although the natural reaction to those who presently have a vested interest in the Church to “church sucks” is likely to be a defensive and perhaps polarizing one, I wonder if the reaction does not also contain an element of denial…a terribly important element that we must ALL come together to overcome.

Listen to Kinnaman and the Barna Group:

“The nation’s population is increasingly resistant to Christianity…the aversion and hostility are, for the first time, crystallizing in the attitudes of millions of young Americans. A huge chunk of a new generation has concluded they want nothing to do with us. As Christians, we are widely distrusted by a skeptical generation. We are at a turning point for Christianity in America. If we do not wake up to these realities and respond in appropriate, godly ways, we risk being increasingly marginalized and losing further credibility with millions of people.” P. 39.

The reality is the C-bomb is not being stored in some underground bunker. The C-bomb has detonated in our midst! What shall we do? Walk around in stunned silence? Continue to deny that we are the walking wounded as others avoid us? Are we going to pick up the pieces and rebuild a remnant of the memory of more of the same? something that doesn’t produce the results that bring glory to our Lord and Savior by focusing on more of the same or will be become capable of coming together in a new revolution of hope:

“A revolution of hope is not just a matter of reading a book or hearing an inspiring sermon. True, a book or sermon or personal encounter may be a vehicle through which hope wins our hearts. But a revolution of hope makes radical demands of us. It requires us to learn new skills and habits and capacities: the skills of a new way of thinking, the capacities of a new way of living….it is a new way of life that changes everything.” – Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change – Jesus, Global Crises and a Revolution of Hope. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN Copyright © 2007 by Brian D. McLaren. P. 283.

I want to learn a new way of living that changes everything. I am not coming ‘armed’ to life anymore. I’m coming surrendered. The C-Bomb has detonated. The devastation is all around us. Yet, for those of us with a love of Jesus, and a thirst for imagining the future, and our respective roles in it, my prayer is that God’s Spirit will provide each of us with eyes to see and ears to hear a “new thing” that He is doing in our midst. Kinnaman’s book also has dozens of suggestions about what that might look like.

I believe the blog authors apology contained the essence of the attitude I need to maintain today, as we approach the Christian life — come surrendered Bill, come humble, be prepared to learn and unlearn. Come to listen. Come to pray. Come to celebrate Christ alive among us. Come to be inspired by God’s Spirit.

Humility. It’s a powerful thing. UnchristianWhat a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons is a literary seismic event that will rearrange the face of faith.

Buy this book. Read it on your knees. Stay knelt until you are able to rise surrendered to what you thought you knew about being a Christian.

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