Black Listed

The following summary of UnChristian is taken from an interview done by Willow Magazine:

In 1996, a Barna study concluded that 85 percent of non-Christian Americans held a favorable view of Christianity’s role in society. A little more than 10 years later and that view has drastically changed. The latest Barna research reveals that nearly two out of every five young non-Christians (38 percent) express a negative impression of present-day Christianity. What’s happening to the Christian faith that’s affecting these cultural shifts?

A new book, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity … and Why It Matters, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (Baker Books, 2007), describes what Christianity looks like to the 24 million people ages 16-29 who are outside the Christian faith. These “outsiders” are no longer viewed as a fringe segment of American society as their numbers increase with each passing generation. Of the segments studied, more than one-third of adult Mosaics and Busters (ages 18-41) are outside the faith; a percentage that increases to two-fifths of 16-29 year-olds. The majority of the research in the book, conducted over three years, included interviews with Christian and non-Christian Busters (born between 1965-1983) and Mosaics (born between 1984-2002).

If we want to influence new generations for Christ, we need to take a close look at what this growing group of outsiders is saying about present day Christianity and at first glance, it’s not positive. They hold negative perceptions of Christianity, such as:

  • Antihomosexual: Christians show contempt for gays and lesbians and some hate the sin and the sinner
  • Too political: Christians are primarily motivated by a right-wing political agenda;
  • Hypocritical: Christians say one thing, but live something entirely different;
  • Insincere: Christians are concerned only with collecting converts and not genuinely interested in others;
  • Sheltered: Christians are boring, unintelligent, and out of touch with reality;
  • Judgmental: Christians are prideful and quick to find fault in others.

The book unpacks these six negative perceptions aimed at Christians and how Christ followers can move from an unChristian faith to live an authentic expression of the message of Jesus.

QUESTION:  If someone surveyed your surrounding community (all ages) solely about your church, parachurch, or community group, how do you think the list would change…or would it?


~ by Dave Smith on March 10, 2008.

3 Responses to “Black Listed”

  1. Funny, I share many of those sentiments… So what’s the solution in a nutshell?

  2. Oh, somehow I missed the question in big, bold, red letters.

    In my context (Princeton Theological Seminary), #1-2 could easily be flipped around. That is, there are very loud voices on the pro-homosexual agenda here. I am not sure if they are the majority in terms of numbers, but their voice is given the most room to be heard, and they certainly speak the loudest.

    As for #2, almost no one here identifies with the Christian right. The few that are Republicans are so for political, not social or religious reasons – at least for the most part. And if I had to guess, I would say there are a lot more Democrats than Republicans on campus.

  3. Thanks Ben.

    Very insightful.

    You can find their retooling of how we are viewed (a step toward solutions) at

    Click on the PowerPoint slides and it will define the 6 perceptions and their statement of correction/solution.

    Much of it comes down to being known for what we stand FOR and not stand AGAINST (though we do have to take those stands from time to time).

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