Tuesday, October 20, 2009

unChristian: Hypocritical

So now that things have calmed down a bit in my own life (just finished performing in Much Ado About Nothing with my wife), I can get back to my plan to further discuss David Kinnaman's book, unChristian.  Today I want to concentrate on one of the biggest perceptions about Christians...that we are hypocritical.

What does it mean to be hypocritical?  Basically it means to say one thing and do another.  With Christians it means talking a lot about God, Jesus, and the teachings of the Bible, but not acting on them in any significant way.  One quote from Kinnaman's book really grabbed me, and it speaks to some Christians.  A woman told of her husband abusing her, "even though he taught Bible studies about how husbands should love their wives."  A man interviewed for the study said "My former pastor used to teach baptism by immersion, then he got a better job with the Presbyterians and now he teachs baptism can be done by sprinkling.  What you believe depends on where your paycheck is coming from, I guess." 

Wow, is this how Christians are really seen?  Among young non-Christians surveyed, 85% know at least one commited Christian, yet only 15% thought that the lifestyles of those Christians were singificantly different from the norm.  When born-again believers were surveyed as to their own lifestyles, they were statistically just as likely as non-Christians to gamble, become drunk, view pornography, and other bad behaviors.  I hate to say it, but it's not rare to see Christians talking a lot about how Christ is working in their lives, but then failing to see this happening.  I've seen it in people around me, and have been guilty of it myself.

So what does all of this mean?  Well, we Christians are human, and full of sin just like anyone else.  Unfortunately, having a faith in Jesus does not keep us from making mistakes.  We're going to mess up despite our best intentions.  But hopefully we won't do it as willingly as non-Christians.

Kinnaman talks about "transparency", and I think this can be a good model.  This means that we need to be open with people about our failings, and apologize for them.  We can't have a "holier than thou" attitude and think that we're better than anyone else.  When we mess up, we need to fess up (to draw on my Southern heritage) and admit to the mistake.  We also need to have transparency about ourselves, realize our hypocracy, and work hard to fix this problem.  Knowing that we're ambassadors from Jesus to the world, and that our actions influence people's opinions about God, Jesus, and Christianity, we need to more actively study our own behaviors and see if they meet with the Bible's standards.  Holding a mirror up to ourselves is a difficult but necessary step.

If we're going to have people believe what we say about God, we need them to be able to trust us.  If they see us as hypocrites, they won't give us that trust.  We also want people to be drawn to Christianity and want to become Christians.  But to do that, we need to show them a better, non-hypocrotical person.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


A couple of weeks ago I picked up a book at Family Christian Bookstore that was 50% off...unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. I am a non-traditional Christian and came from a background where Christ wasn't the center of our family. Having come to faith in Jesus later in life, I have a different perspective than many Christians. So I am interested in how to reach people in a non-traditional way (hence the way I do ministries). So this book caught my attention.

Kinnaman works for the Barna Group, a well-known polling company who studies Christianity and religious trends in society. This book is the result of extensive study of the opinions and views of people both within and without Christianity. The data is fascinating, especially in how "outsiders" view Christians. Kinnaman focuses on six big viewpoints of these people towards Christianity, why they feel this way, and what we might be able to do to change these perceptions. I'm not going to go into too many details now, as I plan on discussing it more during this month.

Frankly, I think that this book should be required reading for anyone involved in minstry or churches. There are reasons why younger people are turning away from Christianity, and we have done it to ourselves. By appearing judgemental, hypocritical, bigoted, and other negative traits, we have pushed people away from us. Our attitudes have taken away from the true message that God has for us. Really, we have no one to blame but ourselves. This is why every Christian minister and teacher should absolutely read this book. Believe me, it will change how you view your duties, outreach, and the world around you.

But that's a good thing. We need to recapture society and be viewed differently. Only by showing people how wonderful God is and his incredible grace will people want to turn to Him. And it's really about people wanting to be involved with Jesus....we can't force them to. The message is great, but we need to improve as messengers. Since we did this to ourselves and to God's Kingdom, we can also change it back. A book like unChristian can help us by identifying our failures. It's a harsh mirror that Kinnaman holds up, but it's one we need to look in.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. I will be briefly discussing some of the highlights of it in the upcoming weeks, but it won't be the same as reading the book yourself. Click on the image to go to one of the online retailers where you can buy it.