October 29, 2007

UnChristian: A Call to Discipleship

This weekend I read UnChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons and I have a variety of reactions to it. The book reads a lot like Sarah Cunningham's Dear Church in that it expresses the reasons - in detail - why today's younger generations want little to do with the institutional church or Christianity altogether.

One reaction I have to this book is that it's not telling me anything I don't already know, the same reaction I had to Sarah Cunningham's book. Yes, Christians are hypocritical people and we have a degree of responsibility even for the misconceptions or perceptions that people might have about the Christian faith. But in this book's emphasis on what we need to do to win over the mosaics and busters, there is another message of discipleship to be had.

We've seen a serious decline in recent decades in the teaching of theology to the Church. People live fragmented, disjointed lives because they haven't been taught to love God with their heart, soul, and mind. They haven't been taught to think and act Christianly in all areas of life. The entertainment-focused seeker movement has been no help in this regard, a knee-jerk reaction to the church's focus on the content of Christian belief.

I hear it said by those who define themselves as "missional" (new term applied to an obviously biblical concept) that we do much naval-gazing and not enough ministry outside of the Church. As much as we need to do that ministry outside of the church and in the community, the pastor can't do it alone. If we aren't making time to disciple - really teach the people in the pew, then it isn't going to do a lot of good to talk about what speaks to the mosaics and busters. It's time to become a truly theological community, consider the difficult doctrines, understand the meaning of the doctrines on our daily living, and know that theology worked out in our lives is one that expresses love and action that is congruent with the words and actions of Jesus. Just telling Christians to be kind and loving is like putting a band-aid on an infected toe. We must deal with the foundational issues so that amputation doesn't become necessary. I agree with UnChristian's assessment of the Christian community, I just hope that people understand that this comes down to rigorous discipleship.

Actions of love, respect, kindness, acceptance, etc., will take you far in a relationship, but unless these ideals are grounded in pure Christian doctrine, they will not be sustained and will be quickly replaced by ignorance.


Lindsay said...

Great Post. I was recently at a conference where there was a panel that discussed this book. One thing that was repeated over and over, is how this "stuff" isn't new. But I guess neither is the Bible. I think we easily get caught up in the latest greatest and forget our foundational doctrine.

Ron said...

I have not yet read the book. But I have heard uttered Sarah's quoted phrase, "... Christians are hypocritical people ..." frequently during my walk. Often this remark comes not from the unchurched but from the uncommitted.

No, Christians have not cornered the market on hypocrisy. We must find a way to gently but firmly persuade those who use the "H-word" that their houses actually are constructed of glass. Everyone is a hypocrite, hence the necessity of Messiah's first visit -- to make payment for hypocrisy (among other things) on behalf of believer and rejector alike.

I do not believe that being "culturally relevant" is primary for transmitting Truth to people in any era. Consider that Christ's message was largely counter-cultural in His day. Imagine simply "trusting in Him for salvation" being relevant to a people whose religious, civic and political lives were permeated by -- and intertwined with -- Mosaic Law! Unadulterated Christianity will remain "subversive" in every age on earth. Unfortunately, there are those in our camp who want to make "relevance" the principle thing. That is, in my humble opinion, a mistake.