Happy New Year! I am sitting in a hotel lobby tapping this out still waiting to close on my house and move in. I want to send a big thank you to Dante for keeping Legacy Dad updated during the holidays. Thanks brother!!
Jesus said the world would hate us and Christians certainly go against the modern day "do whatever feels good" attitude but shouldn't outsiders just repent and accept the truth of Jesus? Many people try this route with outsiders with little success and actually cause more damage.
As Christians, we often want to preach the good news but we fail to exhibit the other side of Jesus. Grace. See John 1:14.
Embracing truth without embracing grace leads to legalism. Just as grace without truth leads to compromise. Still, the Barna research shows that Gen X and Y say they rarely see Christians display the following traits:
I witnessed this example firsthand over Christmas. My In-laws have attended a small town conservative church for over 20 years, yet recently after attending my church and my sister-in-laws church they started to see their church in a different light. They saw very judgmental attitudes, hateful remarks about homosexuals and sermons on how Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. This led them to leave their church, a church they literally helped build and remodel, and attend a more Evangelical church in their area. The told everyone they simply needed to move on and grow more spiritually. The reaction from friends was dismissal, rumors and some friends not even speaking with them. This church is a perfect example of the "us versus them" mentality and further the negative traits that outsiders are referencing.
Outsiders claim that we lack grace and this leads them to the perception that Christians are no different than anyone else.
Still the question remains, should we really care what outsiders think? I think the scarier question is this: What if outsiders are correct about the current state of Christians?
The real question I think we need to ask is this?
If we are lacking in the grace department than we need to take a long hard look in the mirror and we should care about the future generations of our faith. A recent study showed that Protestant Churches in the US on a whole spent only about 1/8th of their money on youth programs as opposed to 5/8ths on adult and elder programs. What do these figures tell you about the future of our churches?
If we, the Christians, have not been modeling the Christian faith properly than we share in the burden of fault but we also hold the key to the solution.
In the past few months, while researching this subject, I have often brought up this discussion with outsiders and they almost always agree. I also ask if they found a movement or church that was more based on the traits they claim we lack, would they return to church or be involved with this type of organization and most say yes or they would at least be willing to give it a try.
In Part Four: Why Perceptions Matter. We will look at why outsiders perceptions and attitudes matter and why it is mainly our fault.
Again, I stress that these findings are not easy to face but it is important to examine them and correct our personal walks as well as influence our churches and friends to look at these findings as well.