Derek Webb and Phillip Yancey both talked about David Kinnaman’s book, UNCHRISTIAN at a conference this week. Published in 2007, UNCHRISTIAN showed that 49% of 16-29 year old “outsiders” (about 24 million) have a bad impression of Evangelical Christians. I’ve labeled myself as a Christian since my confirmation in a Catholic Church at 7 years old, and I adopted the “evangelical” label as an adult, borrowing from the Greek “euangelion” or “to spread the good news”.
In Kinnaman’s book, one interviewee said, “Most people I meet assume that Christian means very conservative, entrenched in their thinking, antigay, antichoice, angry, violent, illogical, empire builders; they want to convert everyone, and they generally cannot live peacefully with anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe.” Even more revealing: 91% of young outsiders perceive present-day Christians to be antihomosexual, 87% judgmental and 85% hypocritical; 75% say that they are too involved in politics. “Outsiders” say that Christians are too focused on getting converts; they wonder if we genuinely care about them.
Phillip Yancey addressed this negative perception head on: As Christians, we need to stop being known for what we are against and instead become known for what we are for:
1. Really loving God and our neighbor (everyone)
2. Realizing that a thirst for God is within all of us
3. Leading holy lives
Yancey told the story of a university professor who was compelled to defend his faith at a seminar where Christianity was attacked for being judgmental and hypocritical. He stood to speak and instead of defending the attack, he said, “As a Christian, I apologize for any hurt that I have caused you. I am sorry,” and then he sat down.
I want to be known for the three things that Yancey says we need to concentrate on: Loving God and my neighbor, realizing that everyone has a thirst for God, and leading a holy life.
But first, I want to apologize for any hurt that I have caused. I am sorry.