I’m reading the last few pages of Unchristian and looking for the author’s conclusions. OK, so we know that the younger generations have a negative perception of Christians, that they think we are hypocritical, judgmental, antihomosexual, too sheltered, too political, and too focused on making converts. What do we do about that? How do we change their perceptions?
Author David Kinnaman writes: “To shift our reputation, Christ followers must learn to respond to people in the way that Jesus did. In other words, to reverse the problem of unChristian faith we have to see people, addressing their needs and their criticism, just as Jesus did. We have to be defined by our service and sacrifice, by lives that exude humility and grace” (p. 206). Kinnaman sums up with four suggestions for changing a new generation’s perception of us: 1) respond with the right perspective, 2) connect with people, 3) be creative, and 4) serve people. “We have to respond to people in the way that Jesus did,” he says, and concludes by asking, “”What image of Jesus do people get from your life?”
Gabe Lyons, who commissioned the research contained in the book, writes: “It comes down to this: we must become Christlike again. No strategy, tactics, or clever marketing campaign could ever clear away the smokescreen that surrounds Christianity in today’s culture. The perception of outsiders will change only when Christians strive to represent the heart of God in every relationship and situation. This kind of Christian will attract instead of repel. He is provoked to engage instead of offended by a decadent culture. She lives with the tension of remaining pure without being isolated from this broken world. When outsiders begin to have fresh experiences and interactions with this new kind of Christian perceptions will change, one person at a time. When they have catalogued enough experiences with this kind of Christian to outweigh the negative ones, the reputation will change. In due time the name Christian will come to represent something refreshing and positive. One new friendship, a compassionate hug, a kind word, a positive outlook, or a well-meaning affirmation will go a long way in seeing Christ’s reputation revitalized throughout our culture” (pp. 224-226).
What about you? What do you think it will take to make the move from Unchristian to Christian? And how soon can we start?