Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reasons or Excuses?

Mohandis Gandhi once told the great Methodist missionary E. Stanley Jones something to the effect that he really liked Jesus but he didn't see too many Christians that looked like Jesus. In other words, Gandhi may have become a Christian if it weren't for...


Today a vast majority of people, especially young adults between 20 and 39 are saying the same thing: we like Jesus just not ___________. Fill in the blank: the church, organized religion, Christians, Christianity, all of the above. {answer: all of the above.}

Now, on one side of the coin, I have never met a person who has told me the above and has also made a serious or even half-hearted attempt to research the claims of Christ or connect with a church long enough to begin to understand that, like many organizations, the church has its good and bad. Have we forgotten that the church has led the way on most of the good social reforms that this country and many other countries have experienced? Yes, the church has its flaws and some shameful bits in its history. All I am saying is that, to be fair, if one is going to point out all of the admittedly terrible things that Christians have done throughout our long history, one should also point out all of the very good an helpful things that the church has done in our history.

But, fairness to Christianity is not what I am thinking about today.

The Barna Reasearch Group put out a book last year called, UnChristian. The basis of the book is what young adults are saying about the church. No surprises: they are saying the church and Christianity is irrelevant, judgemental, hypocritical, etc.. Barna's suggestions for the church? Don't be irrelevant, judgemental, hypocritical, etc...


But, here is my (real or percieved) dilemma: It seems to me that most Christians will read that book, or want to address those issues by saying, "Yes! And if every church/Christian had my denomination's values/theology/tradition/rituals, etc...then we would make great strides toward addressing those criticisms." As a United Methodist, there are certain values and perpectives that I believe would indeed go a long way toward addressing those criticisms. But, I am sure that my friend Father Roy at St. Robert's Catholic Church would have different ideas of how we can live in ways that would address those criticisms. And, I am just as sure that my friend Rev. Dave Galbraith at Peace Presbytrian Church would disagree with us both.

You get the idea.

I think we need to take these criticisms seriously if they truly point to reasons why people are not becoming followers of Jesus Christ.

So, what to do?

I have my ideas, but I am really interested in yours.

What are your thoughts? Are these serious issues and legitimate criticisms? In what ways are modern Christians/the church/organized religion keeping people from becoming followers of Jesus Christ? What should we/could we do about it?

Please respond to these questions by posting your comments/thoughts/suggestions. Perhaps this can be a kind of e-conversation between us all?

I look forward to hearing from you!

And as always I am...
...with you on the journey.

Peace and much agape,