Last week we had a staff discussion on the findings of UnChristian, and the perceptions that non-Christians (16-29 year-of-age) have towards Christians.  The list of perceptions were:  1) homophobic,2) judgmental, 3) hypocritical, 4) sheltered, 5) get saved (not caring), and 6) too political.

We asked our staff if a similar survey was conducted in the Akron/Green area (the local communities of our congregation), asking unchristian neighbors (any age) what their perception of The Chapel would be, what would the list look like?

Here were some of their assumptions:

  • Grace
  • Love
  • Judgmental
  • Sheltered
  • Respected
  • Big
  • Commercials
  • All love no discipline
  • All Bible, no grace
  • Non-threatening
  • Generous
  • Bad reputation with smaller churches
  • Caring
  • Resource hog
  • Wealthy
  • Cocooned

For those that are familiar with my church community, is this list fair or inaccurate?  Others you think would be mentioned?


~ by Dave Smith on March 17, 2008.

4 Responses to “Perceptions”

  1. I’m a little surprised no one added, “homophobic.” Not b/c it is true, but because in many circles it is considered homophobic to hold a literal biblical position on God’s design for men & women.

    For similar reasons, I’m surprised no one listed “sexist.”

    I think there is a 50+ generation that either has very positive feelings toward The Chapel, or they simply are negative toward all people of faith and The Chapel is no different.

    I think there is a younger generation with whom The Chapel has a bigger challenge. They do not connect with Knute’s TV spots, they don’t see anyone (publicly) at the church that represents them, and they are inclined to distrust large organizations.

    On a positive side, I’m also surprised no one mentioned, “racial reconciliation.” I think The Chapel has been a beacon in that regard and is well-respected for the efforts of Knute and Dr. Fowler.

  2. I think your comments about homophobic and sexist are really good, and ones we have heard before. Good call.

    Regarding homophobic, I think those perceptions are unwarranted regarding our stance on homosexual behavior being a sin, but still due to article like the following, the perception is out there:

  3. wow, where do I start. Inaccurate seems such an understatement. Let me just say that I have friends in my neighborhood that when they learn that I go to the Chapel (not usually because I tell them) they tell me things like, “I always thought you were a smart girl, why would you go to a church like THAT?!” , or “That place is so stuffy and self-righteous.” I could go on but you get the point. I think things may be changing but the grace, love, non-threatening, generous, respected and caring that was listed above is NOT how my neighbors perceive our church community. It makes me sad and I wonder how they will ever see Jesus?

  4. Good, real-life comments there Missy.

    I think the list reflects the wide demographic variance of the church…and how there can be a wide range of perceptions based on age, media interpretation, and personal Chapel encounters.

    For example, I am sure the family in Barberton who had their home built and given to them by The Chapel, probably feels the grace side. A person who encountered a self-righteous Chapel member judging them for their alternative lifestyle will feel the judgemental side.

    Your question is a good one…as there will always be imperfect people within the church, how can we create a greater imbalance towards being known for the things Jesus is primarily known for?

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