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The Outsider Interviews: What Young People Think about Faith and How to Connect with Them Paperback – November 1, 2012
From Publishers Weekly
Inspired by, and supported with, a foreword by David Kinnaman, author of the bestselling unChristian, this tandem book/DVD puts faces on Kinnaman's findings of Christianity's image problem. In four cities, the authors interviewed Christians, but also agnostics, atheists, Muslims, gays, and other groups Christians are believed to reject. At the heart of the problem, they've discovered, is a Christian "swagger" that repels would-be Christians. They advocate the persuasive power of listening and truly liking people, choosing to use the word "like" rather than the over-used "love." In their words: "Jesus is the God who likes people." Each chapter includes tie-ins to the DVD interviews and a reader's guide for discussion. The book's narrative that recreates the road trip the authors took to do their interviews seems indulgent and boring. But the combined impact of the book and DVD is stunning: the authors have heard and noted important ways Christians can improve their outreach by being more like Jesus, who meets people where they are.¯
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
According to statistics, young adults are more disenchanted with the church than ever.
Beyond the statistics are the stories--real people with real opinions and real experiences. These people are more than just numbers. They are your son or daughter, the barista at your favorite café, a young co-worker, the college student you sit next to at church.
What would happen if we took the time to listen to them?
Listening and trying to understand someone's perspective is time consuming and often challenging. And we may never agree with those other perspectives. But as friends, parents, grandparents, and mentors, we must find ways to bridge the gap and connect with young people.
The future of the church depends on it.
Enhance Your Experience of the Book with Videos Online: www.OutsiderInterviews.com
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Top Customer Reviews
Traditional Christianity in America has become utterly useless and irrelevant in today's evil world and the flood of 18- to 29 -year olds that are leaving the church reflect this reality. 80% of American Christians are no different than the non-Christians they are supposed to be a light to; Jesus may be talked about a lot but he is virtually never obeyed and now we have the situation we have.
This is a very eye-opening video and if you are interested in Jesus without all the man-made rules and regulations, this DVB can help you on your own spiritual journey.
The writing style found in other chapters can grow somewhat tedious. The interviews, however, are excellent, and provide plenty to think about. I watched some of them twice.
This book is a streetview of the researched figures given in books like UnChristian and You Lost Me, both written by Barna Group's President, David Kinnaman. Kinnaman writes the forward to this book and reminds the reader that in listening to others, we learn more about ourselves and the groups we identify with. I think the reader would be best fitted to appreciate this book in the context of reading Kinnaman's books, but the book is accessible and revealing regardless.
It reveals the often unspoken questions of Christians and simultaneously reveals the respectful and thoughtful questions "outsiders" have towards Christianity today. The Outsider Interviews gives faces to the facts and voices to ideas in an artful and competent way.
The Outsider Interviews is LEADING:
The book is leading the reader to desire conversations and move towards the center of faith, which is Christ. It leads by portraying that having dialogue is helpful.
It is not a prescriptive book of how to hold conversations or what topics to talk about with others. It simply leads the reader to a point in which he or she must determine whether to stay within personal perceptions or be bold enough to go out and talk with others, as Jesus did. To understand other people's journey's, conversations must be had.
* The book moves quickly and allows people to ask tough questions.
* Leaders would be benefited from taking the time to read this book and watch the videos.
* When the book states that half of the "book" is missing unless the reader takes the time to view the videos; I concur. The videos reiterate the text in a way that is connective and engaging. Do not dismiss the video, thinking they might be an afterthought to entice the cyber or visual world. The videos are thought-provoking and a necessary element of learning what the authors set out to model and reveal.
I read the book first. It's a quick read. The book is framed around panel interviews of people who are not currently involved to a Christian church, aka The Outsiders. Jim's co-authors, Todd Hunter and Craig Spinks, traveled together to a handful of cities around the country to host small conferences on themes of Christiantiy, culture and relevance. Each gathering featured a LIVE panel discussion of people who had been recruited to come share their thoughts and views about their experiences and perspectives on Christianity. Like a woman named Rio, who in the Denver gathering, openly spoke of her struggle of reconciling her Christian spirituality with her sexual orientation as a lesbian. '
Other panelists in other cities included atheists, disenfranchised Christians, non-religious people, people of different races and backgrounds...yet they all had one thing in common: they are all young people primarily under 30 years of age.
The Outsider Interviews, says Jim and Todd, is their response to the staggering statistics provided by best selling book, Unchristian, which reports that statistically speaking, young people have a negative view of Christianity. (Those of us living in the Pacific Northwest don't need a book report to know this; here in Portland, the label Christian carries so much baggage that many people now opt to describe themselves as Christ followers)
The Outsider Interviews, as a response to unChristians's overwhelming statistical research that young people are at odds with the Christian faith, is a kind of What's-the-Story-behind-those-statistics kind of book. Unchrisitan has the bones of the stats; Outsiders has the flesh of the stories of the people behind those stats.
Back to the DVB packaging of the book... ok, I wasn't interested in watching the DVD. I want to skim and read a book, not watch it. I figured just reading it would be enough, but it was not. The book feels fragmented at times and has several gaps that confused me with my reading. Only later, when Iinterviewed Jim Henderson, did I understand that the DVD is an integral part of the reading experience of this book. The book is more of a response to the interviews gathered and filmed.
I don't want to get bogged down reviewing the packaging, which, super quick, I give their publisher, Baker, a BIG THUMBS UP for taking the risk to try something innovative. In the digital revolution publishers ned to work hard to find creative avenues for the media of books to evolve into. This is one such innovation. It did not work for me as a 46-year old reader, but it very well may work brilliantly for others, such as small groups, church planting teams, evangelists, and most of all Christian Parents of Wayward Adult Children.
The book and DVD would be extremely helpful for those moms and dads who raised their child(ren) in a Christian home only to have their sons and daughters flee the pew as soon as they are of age and beyond the prodding reach of mom, dad and youth pastor. The content of the interviews and how they are framed within the book will inform angsty Christian parents and youth pastors of what is going on in the minds and hearts of today's American young adult. It's not as bad as you'd think, and America's emerging adults are not as antagonistic towards God as one might be led to believe by the startling data of reports such as unChristian and other media reports.
The content of the writing is easy to read, conversational in tone as one might expect from a book framed around informal interviews. A book authored by three writers presents challenges in how will the authors combine their voices without confusing the reader. Henderson, Hunter, and Spinks solve this by each of them writing in first person with clear authorship established. I always knew who was saying what in each chapter.
I enjoyed some of the insights offered by the authors as they processed how the various interview panelists affected them. In one chapter, it was noted that most of the pastors they were trying to partner with could not find Outsiders for the guys to film and interview. This is a sad commentary about clergy who have become disconnected from the larger culture around us. (though it is somewhat glaring that the authors did not delve into their own social networks to find willing interviewees!!!)
The Outsider Interviews provides various microcosms of varying worldviews and perspectives from a wonderfully diverse group of young adults. This is the strength of the takeaway of the DVB (dvd/book).
Best chapter in the whole book drives home how crucial this book can be for Christian parents of young adults. Chapter seven, written by film maker Craig Spinks, the youngest of the three authors and the videographer of the interviews, writes with tender respect of the conflict he has endured with his father over things like homosexuality. His father, clearly a Boomer with a modernistic worldview, is at odds with post-modern minded Millennial son who says he still follows Jesus, but seems to have problems with church. It's a portrait of a father and son who very much love each other, and yet are baffled by one another's perspectives on issues of faith, church and values.
"...Why do you have such a problem with the church?"
For some reason this question made me realize that most of our conversations of late have been focused on hot-button issues, and we've never really talked broadly about my journey of recycling my faith, so I took this opportunity to share a bit of that with him. It was a long answer to a simple question, but I eventually got back on track. "I don't have a problem with church, nor do I think it's a waste of time, but the traditional expressions of church just don't work for me the way they used to." page 125
My Bottom Line:
For those who are bewildered by the exodus of young people out the doors of the church, this book together with it's companion DVD, can help provide some context as to why so many are leaving the fold, but not the faith. It is a great primer for parents, youth pastors, missional practioners and church planters who are trying to understand the mindset of young people who have rejected traditional forms of forms of church and concepts of God for a variety of reasons. The Outsider Interviews can be a helpful tool in bridging the gap between older church folk and disenchanted young folk. The design of the book with the DVD makes a perfect set-up for small groups to read and watch together.