Saturday, October 06, 2007

A New Generation's Response to Christianity

David Kinnaman, the president of The Barna Group, has written a new book titled unChristian. I am excited about reading through this book and have added it to my Amazon Wish List, if you feel compelled to purchase it for me. I have directly quoted much of what was written at The Barna Group in the article: A New Generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity.

According to research by The Barna Group the Christian image has shifted substantially downward, fueled in part by a growing sense of disengagement and disillusionment among young people. This study also shows that those outside Christianity are less likely to view evangelicals favorably because of negative views of Christianity.

Common negative perceptions include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%) - representing large proportions of young outsiders who attach these negative labels to Christians. The most common favorable perceptions were that Christianity teaches the same basic ideas as other religions (82%), has good values and principles (76%), is friendly (71%), and is a faith they respect (55%).

Another view is that the church is anti-homosexual. The feeling is that Christians are so opposed to homosexuality that they demonstrate excessive contempt and an unloving attitude towards gay and lesbians.

This study also recognized that many young Christians hold these same views of Christianity. Maybe this is why we see many college students willing to leave what they once held dearly. To these Christians homosexuality is viewed as the biggest of sins. The study recognized that young people in the church and out had similar views of Christianity.

So as we tap into how Christianity is viewed I ask our older generation to evaluate ourselves. How do we view the issues that young people are concerned with? How are we communicating our values to young people? How are we embracing their values? Should we communicate those values? How well are we listening to young people? Do we really know what they are dealing with?

According to the study, older generations more easily dismiss the criticism of those who are outsiders," Kinnaman said. "But we discovered that young leaders and young Christians are more aware of and concerned about the views of outsiders, because they are more likely to interact closely with such people. Their life is more deeply affected by the negative image of Christianity. For them, what Christianity looks like from an outsider’s perspective has greater relevance, because outsiders are more likely to be schoolmates, colleagues, and friends."

I would love to hear your views. Read the blog before this one and listen to what this young person is saying. What are you hearing?

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