Multiplication Center

unChristian: What a New Generation Thinks

November 28, 2007

I have been reading books from the people at Barna Research for years. The statistics and insights have been fodder for many a conversation in my circle of friends and co-workers.  But unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity… and Why It Matters (Baker Books, 2007), the new book by David Kinnaman, President of The Barna Group, and Gabe Lyons, founder of the Fermi Group, is perhaps one of the most significant books I have read in recent years.  The book focuses on the attitudes of 18-30 year olds towards Christianity, and in particular evangelical Christianity.  It is not a pretty picture and will be as disturbing as anything you may have seen or read dealing with this generation.

One of the things I found helpful about this book is the judicious use of statistics.  While Kinnaman is not afraid to use empirical data, he is also very adept at using story, the currency of this generation, to make his point.  He and Lyons introduce us to a wide variety of young people, both in and outside of the church.  We begin to see ourselves and our attitudes from their eyes.  We hear their pain and feel our own as they tell us that they have tried Christianity, at least our version of it, and found it wanting.

unChristian addresses six particular points of irritation for people of this generation.  It is in these areas that those outside of the faith believe that Christians no longer represent what Jesus had in mind. I found myself underlining frantically at points and at others wondering if it will be possible for us to make the needed changes.  At the end of each chapter, we are given the opportunity to hear from other contemporary Christian leaders.  Their voices lend weight and experience to the arguments presented by Kinnaman and Lyons.  All in all, unChristian has a very important and, at times, very disturbing message.

Nick Howard

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