I’ve been casually reading David Kinnaman’s book Unchristian in my spare moments, and have been saddened by the research shown in the latest Barna Polls. But first the words of Jesus for contrast: “This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
In 2007, when the Barna Research Group polled thousands of unchurched people asking them to choose from a list of positive and negative adjectives describing present day Christianity, the top three choices were:
- Antihomosexual (91%)
- Judgmental (87%)
- Hypocritical – saying one thing and doing another. (85%)”
- The first “positive” impression, “has good values and principles” showed up at 76%
We obviously have an image problem, and we’ve no one to blame but ourselves. While it’s true we should expect to be criticized by non-believers, this can’t be what Jesus had in mind. I wonder if He must be weeping all over again?
Now that we know, (thanks to the good, insightful people at Barna), how do we go about repairing the damage? Is it time for the church to repent to the world? Should we invite a few of our unchurched neighbors to preach to us for a Sunday or two? Maybe our congregations or elders could compose some well-worded apologies to be read on local radio, or published in the news? Certainly we each need to begin by taking personal responsibility for our own actions and words. But we can’t do nothing. Dysfunction in individuals, families, or churches, never heals itself by ignoring the problem. We’ve got a stinking elephant parked at the front of God’s church, and it obviously can’t stay there.