Tuesday, July 8

What I've been reading: They Like Jesus But Not The Church

I just finished Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But Not The Church. As the title indicates, the book primarily discusses people who have a positive opinion of Jesus, but who have a negative opinion of Christians and the church.

Kimball is the pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif., a church made up predominantly of twenty-somethings. In an effort to avoid becoming trapped in the bubble of Christian subculture, Kimball spends a significant portion of his time outside of his office meeting and building relationships with people who aren’t part of a church.

What he found, in the course of building those relationships, was that many people, particularly in the college and post-college age group, have very positive impressions of Jesus. They are often very open to discussing Jesus and what he taught and thought. However, they don’t share the same opinions about Christians or the church. When conversations turned to these topics, it became clear that, while they liked what Jesus stood for, they don’t think very highly of the church and don’t really want to be associated with it. Kimball backs up these thoughts using the words of the people he knows and has talked to about these topics.

Kimball spends a significant part of his book discussing a number of recurring complaints or criticisms about the church that he has heard. He recognizes that not all of these perceptions are accurate, and even if they are accurate to some extent, they certainly don’t apply to all followers of Jesus. At the same time, he recognizes that the perceptions are real. If we are going to successfully reach and minister to people who have that mindset, we need to be able to overcome these perceptions.

I particularly like the way that Kimball handles these criticisms. He gives some practical ideas for how we, as Christ followers, can talk to people who raise these issues and address their concerns. Kimball doesn’t level wholesale criticisms at the church, but rather suggests that we ask ourselves questions about how we are perceived and how we go about having an impact on people who have this mindset, particularly those who are in their twenties. If you are of this mindset, or know anyone who is, this book can be a huge asset to you.

I thought that They Like Jesus But Not The Church was excellent. I highly recommend it.

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