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I picked up a copy today of Dan Kimball‘s book They Like Jesus But Not the Church. I have only read about half of the introduction, but it is off to an excellent start! He shares the story of speaking at an evangelism conference and the people there just not getting his approach of just trying to get to know people and actually befriending them. One of the pastors asked if he “sealed the deal” (meaning prayed the sinners’ prayer). When Kimball said that he had not and that he was trying to get to know people and befriend them the pastor responded, “Well, then you’re wasting your time, brother, and I will pray for you that you seal the deal with them.”

If that story starts to get you fired up a little bit about how much that pastor is missing the point, I bet this would be a book that would speak to you (though I can’t fully endorse it, as I have not actually read it yet). I found myself thinking, and I bet that guy didn’t even actually pray for you…

Having recently read and posted about Kinnaman and Lyon’s book UnChristian, I was struck by some obvious similarities between the insights that Kimball draws out about how the church is perceived. Here is a comparison of what Kinnaman and Lyon note that people dislike about Christians and what Kimball discusses in They Like Jesus But Not the Church:

UnChristian traits according to Kinnaman and Lyon’s research:

Outsiders see Christians as:

  • Hypocritical
  • Only concerned with conversion (getting you to pray the sinners’ prayer)
  • antihomosexual
  • sheltered
  • too political
  • judgmental

Here is what Kimball says Emerging generations think about the Church:

  • an organized religion with a political agenda
  • judgmental and negative
  • dominated by males and oppresses females
  • homophobic
  • arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong
  • full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally

The similarities are remarkable and suggest that these two books really have profoundly grasped the way Christians are viewed by non-Christians. It is a wake up call.

In a previous post Dan Kimball actually noticed a comment I made about thinking it would be cool to have lunch with him and he replied. So, in case you find this post too, Dan – I have a question. Have you read UnChristian and if so how do you think it meshes with They Like Jesus But Not the Church? Oh, and will you be in the northern Oklahoma area anytime soon to grab some lunch? I know of a great Mexican place in Blackwell, OK!

Finally, here is a link on Dan Kimball’s blog where he discusses They Like Jesus But Not the Church.

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