|FCC member Meg Pfister was chatting with some of her colleagues at work one day and somehow the subject of evolution came up. One of them said, "Meg, I know you're a Christian so you don't believe in evolution,|
Though Meg explained that her faith did not preclude accepting the evolutionary theory, the question is: Why did her friend make such an assumption?
The answer is found in a book by David Kinnaman called Unchristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity. It details the results of a research project done by the Barna Group to survey attitudes among young adults toward Christians, Christian faith, and the church. Keep in mind that the Barna Group falls squarely into the evangelical camp of American
Christianity. Therefore, the findings in this book are all the more unsettling.
Kinnaman refers to people who have no connection to the church as "outsiders," and says, "In our national surveys with young people we found the three most common perceptions of present-day Christianity are antihomosexual (an image held by 91% of young outsiders), judgmental (87%), and hypocritical (85%)."
To a lesser degree, but not much less, Christians are perceived as old-fashioned, too involved in politics, insensitive to others, and not accepting of other faiths.
|And lest you think these "outsiders" have never had contact with the Church, think again. Barna's research showed that the majority of them had some sort of church connection in the past.|
If most young adults want nothing to do with the church, what does that say about the future of Christianity in America? It says we can bring rock music into the sanctuary, put up jumbotron screens, and set up a Starbucks in the church vestibule, all to no avail. These "outsiders" want nothing to do with us.
But you say, "Paris, they're not talking about Elgin First Congregational Church. We love others unconditionally." True. But that's not the way we are perceived. Fair or not, we have been lumped in with the Christian sisters and brothers who make us cringe. And remember: perception is reality.
You and I are, in part, to blame for this situation. We have been silent too long. We have been afraid of looking like the right-wing crazies, or we have hidden behind the "that's the pastor's job" mantra, and allowed others to define us.
It's time we start speaking our biblical language, concentrating on loving relationships, and going out of our way to demonstrate a way of life guided by the question "What would Jesus do?"
It does not matter whether you and I caused the problem. We are responsible for fixing it.