Unchristian  Gary Kinnaman, a pastor from Phoenix, Arizona, is a good friend of mine who recently ministered at our church in Melbourne. His son, David Kinnaman, is the President of the Barna Group, a ministry which provides research and resources that facilitate spiritual transformation in people's lives. 

David's latest book, co-authored with Gabe Lyons, is called UnChristian. It's basic message is that Christianity has an image problem. Here is the description of the book from the back cover …

"Christians are supposed to represent Christ to the world. But according to the latest report card, something has gone terribly wrong. Using descriptions like 'hypocritical', 'insensitive', and 'judgmental', young Americans share an impression of Christians that's nothing short of … unChristian."

The book goes on to detail the negative perceptions that exist, especially amongst the younger generation, then goes on to give some insights as to how these perceptions can be reversed in a Christlike manner, including practical examples of how Christians can positively contribute to culture.

I wonder what the perceptions of a 'Christian' are in Australia today? Could it be much the same? This is a challenging clarion call to the church. After all, the apostle Paul told the first-century Christians that they were like a letter, known and read by everyone around them. I wonder what people read when they see our life and whether it says what Jesus would want it to say. That's a challenge for all of us.

For more information, check out the book's web site. Also, for some book reviews on UnChristian click here, here, and here.

5 thoughts on “UnChristian

  1. As a newbie Christian I was facing a very similar thing – what was going on inside my head did NOT line up with the ‘Christians’ I saw on TV and in real life – and not just in the realm of what Christians do ‘wrong’ either. Newbies can often get scared off by anything which seems a bit ‘out there’ – I was that way with American televangelists and to be honest, if I’d based my whole judgement on those, I’d not be a Christian now – perhaps this has a lot to do with the more laid back culture in Australia?
    Anyhoo, I came across a really good ‘entry level Christian’ book which addressed this kind of thing really well (don’t be put off by the title! It’s pro-Christian!) called “I’m Fine With God, It’s Christians I Can’t Stand.” (The subheading is “getting past the religious garbage in the search for spiritual truth.”) It’s pretty new, published this year out of the US, but its down to earth approach would sit well with most Aussies, especially those who are newbies and struggling with the misconceptions of Christianity – it really went a long way in settling my mind. Chapters include things like ‘I’m Fine With God…but I can’t stand Christians who give Christ a bad name’ and ‘…but I can’t stand Christians who don’t know what they believe’. I got mine at Borders, well worth a read or as a gift for a new convert 🙂

  2. Some of the people that influenced me (and thousands of others) to give my life to Jesus and discipled me are not so well respected in other circles. In fact I’ve specifically heard Christian people voicing their concern about the impact some of these people have on the image of Christianity.
    Then again, some other people have been influenced into Christianity by people that would not have influenced me that way.
    As far as I can tell each of us has a personal relationship with Jesus and we get to know Him in a personal way.
    I believe and agree that we need to develop integrity and watch our presentation. What makes me nervous about these things is that if we set out to make everyone comfortable then is that really Christianity?
    Another question then: if the church has wheat and tares in it, where are the tares? Do the tares know they are tares and not wheat? Am I tare and I don’t know it?
    The tares are in the church – are they the people that come in because they are comfortable rather than because they have had a revelation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He has been raised from the dead?

  3. zedi,
    I agree wholeheartedly…
    it’s one thing to build our lives around integrity-
    it’s another to build our lives arnd pleasing people.
    we have to know the difference, and draw the line.
    very often, those who live in integrity get persecuted more than those who don’t…why would the world persecute you if you’re living like them? but if you are being different (not for the sake of being diff, but for Christ’s sake) then you will face persecution…
    so let’s not judge when a christian comes under fire from the world. it’s really between God and Him…

  4. Hi all,
    After reading an article in The Age this morning titled, “New faith throws out the ten commandments” (http://www.theage.com.au/national/new-faith-throws-out-the-ten-commandments-20080915-4h3d.html), is it any wonder that non-Christians are confused… the so-called Church doesn’t even believe in the deity of it’s Saviour, let alone a personal relationship with Him!
    I think the unChristian view that the world has of the Church is muddied by the antics of powerless religion awash with humanism, and not just wacky or hurt (but saved) Christians who are still on the journey.

  5. Okay, but does that really mean a Christian spokesperson can’t publicly be honest about prefering a Christian Prime Minister?
    Does it mean a Pastor has to avoid going on record as ever directly answering the question whether homosexuality is actually a sin or not?
    Yes, Jesus didn’t condemn the woman taken in adultery – but in other settings He wasn’t vague nor reluctant to state that adultery and such sins defile a man.
    It’s important not to over-correct, not to over-compensate.

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