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unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters Hardcover – October 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Kinnaman, president of the Barna Institute, was inspired to write this book when Lyons (of the Fermi Project) commissioned him to do extensive research on what young Americans think about Christianity. Lyons had a gut-level sense that something was desperately wrong, and three years of research paints exactly that picture. Mosaics and Busters (the generations that include late teens to early 30-somethings) believe Christians are judgmental, antihomosexual, hypocritical, too political and sheltered. Rather than simply try to do a PR face-lift, Kinnaman looks at ways in which churches' activities actually may have been unchristian and encourages a return to a more biblical Christianity, a faith that not only focuses on holiness but also loves, accepts and works to understand the world around it. It would be possible to get lost in the numbers, but the authors use numerous illustrations from their research and life experiences and include insights at the end of every chapter from Christian leaders like Charles Colson, John Stott, Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis. This is a wonderful, thoughtful book that conveys difficult truths in a spirit of humility. Every Christian should read this, and it will likely influence churches for years to come. (Oct.)
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"This is a wonderful, thoughtful book that conveys difficult truths in a spirit of humility. Every Christian should read this, and it will likely influence the church for years to come."--Publisher's Weekly --Publisher's Weekly, starred review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801013003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801013003
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (231 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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151 of 162 people found the following review helpful By PastoralMusings VINE VOICE on December 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity...and Why It Matters
David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
ISBN: 978-0-8010-1300-3 ISBN-10: 0-8010-1300-3

unChristian is not your typical Christian book. It did not need to be. Neither should one expect it to be.
unChristian is unSettling.
unChristian will either humble or anger the Christian reader.
Research has shown that Busters and Mosaics (Terms that are used to specify young people aged 16-29) do not have a good opinion of Christians.
That should not really be surprising. I'm a pastor and I know that I don't have a good opinion of Christians in general. Oh, people are nice to me and I enjoy the ministry. I pastor a group of people who treat me as family. My experience has shown me, however, that Christians can be very unChristian. This book tells us that people on the outside of the church see us that way, too. Having read the book, I don't have a very good opinion of myself. I have a long way to go in learning to show grace, mercy, and compassion.
Many of those who were interviewed were not always on the outside of the church. Their experiences on the inside drove them out, however. It is commonly known that the Christian church is the army that shoots its wounded.
As a pastor I have battled legalism. I am all for grace. I did not realize how much legalism was still in me, however. In seeking to stand for righteousness I have been less than gracious and accepting of people who sin. We Christians are unChristian because we are a self-righteous, arrogant group of people who do not listen because we are convinced that we (though we say that the Bible does, we act as if we do) have all the answers. We give advice where it is not requested.
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321 of 358 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on December 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I grew up in the church. My parents were ministers. I did overseas missions work, and I now write novels with characters who deal with the spiritual questions we face in the world of steel and greed and humanity. My first twenty years of life I was a gung-ho believer, ready to change the world. The next twenty years, I tried to change the church through ministry positions, toeing the lines, trying to gain the respect and authority to have a say.

I believe I wasted my time. There are too many who want to hold onto what has always been, instead of seeing it for what it has become. I wish I had simply done all the things I felt I should be doing--helping the poor, the HIV-infected, and knowing Jesus as a lifestyle, not just on Sunday mornings. "unChristian" is one of the most precise books I've come across, for its unflinching stare into the mirror. It deals with most of the critical observations that "outsiders" have, but these are really the same observations of any honest Christian. In fact, by working for the past fifteen years outside of the "ministry," I could've identified almost to a T every criticism outlined in this book. Simply step out of the ivory tower and you'll see and hear all these issues raised.

While "unChristian" can come across somewhat dry and prosaic in its dispensing of information, it is a valuable and necessary dissertation on the ills of our current form of Christianity. It's also a sincere and noble call back to those things that we should be about. The authors don't pull punches, but they do write with grace and love for the church of Christ's followers, regardless of denomination or style. This should be a book for every Christian to consider somberly and prayerfully.
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174 of 195 people found the following review helpful By Daniel B. Clendenin on January 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In his book The Heart of Christianity (2003) Marcus Borg of Oregon State University describes how his university students have a uniformly negative image of Christianity. "When I ask them to write a short essay on their impression of Christianity," says Borg, "they consistently use five adjectives: Christians are literalistic, anti-intellectual, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted."

Christians might object, rather defensively, that it's unfair to draw sweeping conclusions based upon the report of one person. If you think that way, you'd be right in your logic but wrong in your conclusion. A new book called unChristian (2007) by David Kinnaman of the Barna Group presents objective research that supports Borg's subjective anecdote. Kinnaman's three-year study documents how an overwhelming percentage of sixteen to twenty-nine year olds view Christians with hostility, resentment and disdain.

These broadly and deeply negative views of Christians aren't just superficial stereotypes with no basis in reality, says Kinnaman. Nor are the critics people who've had no contact with churches or Christians. It would be a tragic mistake, he argues, for believers to protest that outsider outrage at Christians is a misperception. Rather, it's based upon their real experiences with today's Christians. In addition to their statistical research, the book includes anecdotes from people who were interviewed, follow-on comments at the end of each chapter by some 30 Christian leaders, and reflections about why we've come to such a place and how we might make it better.
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