I picked up a copy today of Dan Kimball‘s book They Like Jesus But Not the Church. I have only read about half of the introduction, but it is off to an excellent start! He shares the story of speaking at an evangelism conference and the people there just not getting his approach of just trying to get to know people and actually befriending them. One of the pastors asked if he “sealed the deal” (meaning prayed the sinners’ prayer). When Kimball said that he had not and that he was trying to get to know people and befriend them the pastor responded, “Well, then you’re wasting your time, brother, and I will pray for you that you seal the deal with them.”
If that story starts to get you fired up a little bit about how much that pastor is missing the point, I bet this would be a book that would speak to you (though I can’t fully endorse it, as I have not actually read it yet). I found myself thinking, and I bet that guy didn’t even actually pray for you…
Having recently read and posted about Kinnaman and Lyon’s book UnChristian, I was struck by some obvious similarities between the insights that Kimball draws out about how the church is perceived. Here is a comparison of what Kinnaman and Lyon note that people dislike about Christians and what Kimball discusses in They Like Jesus But Not the Church:
UnChristian traits according to Kinnaman and Lyon’s research:
Outsiders see Christians as:
- Only concerned with conversion (getting you to pray the sinners’ prayer)
- too political
Here is what Kimball says Emerging generations think about the Church:
- an organized religion with a political agenda
- judgmental and negative
- dominated by males and oppresses females
- arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong
- full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally
The similarities are remarkable and suggest that these two books really have profoundly grasped the way Christians are viewed by non-Christians. It is a wake up call.
In a previous post Dan Kimball actually noticed a comment I made about thinking it would be cool to have lunch with him and he replied. So, in case you find this post too, Dan – I have a question. Have you read UnChristian and if so how do you think it meshes with They Like Jesus But Not the Church? Oh, and will you be in the northern Oklahoma area anytime soon to grab some lunch? I know of a great Mexican place in Blackwell, OK!
Finally, here is a link on Dan Kimball’s blog where he discusses They Like Jesus But Not the Church.
I have not read the book in question, however I would like to recommend another read on the heart of the topic. The book is called “Church without Wall” by Jim Peterson. I have finished all but a chapter or two and can highly recommend it. This address the issues of reaching out and “being” “the church”.
Kevin Watson said:
Thanks for commenting, and thanks for the recommendation! It looks like an interesting book. I have added it to my wishlist.
Great thoughts about the similarities of these two books. I just picked up UnChristian today, I really looking forward to diving into it over the weekend.
Kevin Watson said:
love1wins – thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments. I grew up in Lafayette, I miss that area. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on UnChristian when you get into it.
Kevin – if you only had time to read one “emergent” book what would it be?
i know very little about emergent, but the list above remind me of Peterson’s, The Message, words introducing one of the letters in the new testament. He states it is always a little surprising that when people become Christians; they do not at the same time become nice.
i had never thought about it, but being saved or justified through faith allows the blood of Christ to erase our accumulated sins. The stuff that separates us from Jesus.
the two lists above are the not “nice” things about Christians. the thing i love about the Wesleyan theology is the emphasis placed sanctification or holiness by learning to follow the instructions of the Holy Ghost that comes to dwell in use when we are justified.
to me it seems like “seal the deal” and move on to the next sinner is not very Wesleyan or Christian for that matter and thus does not represent the UMC.
could the problem be Christians do not take the “whole Bible literally”?
are most things in the above list incompatible with loving ones neighbor?
Kevin Watson said:
Bart – Thanks for your response! I am going to answer your question about what emergent book I would read in a post I plan to write later today… so stay tuned!
I love your thoughts about sanctification/holiness. I agree completely, the mentality that is only concerned with people until they pray and prayer is certainly not Wesleyan and I think it is at least an incomplete expression of the interest we should have in other people as Christians.
Great point about the list being an expression of needing to grow in our ability to love our neighbor. Unfortunately, I think you are right in that all of us are guilty of sometimes taking the parts of the Bible that affirm what we already believe seriously, while ignoring the parts that are more inconvenient, or challenge what we already believe too much.
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Both of the books are very good and very basic truth. How did you stumble across them?
Kevin Watson said:
thanks for stopping by!
i honestly don’t remember how i came across them, probably through reading other books, magazines, or book catalogues… or maybe another blog… sorry I can’t remember.