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One of the books I got for Christmas was David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons’ unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why it Matters. Kinnaman and Lyons take a hard look at the way Christians are perceived by 16-29 year old Americans. The feedback they get is not flattering and it is tough to swallow. The main value in this book is simply the recognition that young adults do not find a whole lot to like about contemporary Christians. The point of the book is not whether these perceptions are fair or accurate, but that this is the way Christians are perceived. The research in this book was done by the folks at the Barna group and they found that 16-29 year olds think that Christians are:

  • Hypocritical
  • Too focused on getting converts
  • Antihomosexual
  • Sheltered
  • Too Political
  • Judgmental

I appreciate the way that the author’s take these perceptions seriously even though they stick to their evangelical worldview. They discuss the perception that young folks have of Christians acting unChristianly and they offer a way to engage with that perception. For example one chapter addresses the perception that “Christians show contempt for gays and lesbians.” They argue for the new perception “Christians show compassion and love to all people, regardless of their lifestyle.”

The major strength of this book is that it takes a serious look at how other people see Christians and it resists the temptation to a defensive reaction. This is a helpful model that it seems to me that all Christians can learn from.

Have you read this book? What are your reactions?