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Monday, January 14, 2008

Hypocritical


A while ago I promised to blog through the book Unchristian by David Kinnaman (see here for that post) and I'm finally getting round to it.

The first major challenge was that young people in the US perceived Christians as hypocritical and he backed it up with some frightening stats. Here are some of them from page 53, the percentages represent the views of born-again believers aged 23-41.

It is morally acceptable to:

Co-habit 59%
Have sex outside of marriage 44%
Get drunk 35%
Look at porn 33%
Have an abortion 32%

Interestingly 'born agains' were LESS likely to recycle 68% compared to 79% but slightly more likely to help someone in need 53% versus 45%.

All in all the figures are shocking but I want to make one key observation. In the US it seems to me there is a huge number of 'converts' and a smaller number of disciples. So here in the UK 75% of our nation if asked would describe themselves as 'Christian' and put up worse stats than the ones above. But they wouldn't have had the experience of church or 'conversion' that their peers in the US have had where a massive 80+% claimed to have some kind of conversion experience.

So here's my tentative conclusion: calling people to follow Christ (and therefore include repentance as a necessary part to that following) is vastly different to asking people if they feel bad for some sin or other and putting up their hand. My own experience here in the UK backs this up. Last summer I took a group of young people to a Christian event called Newday and a number repented and probably only one of them is still actively following Christ 6 months later. In the US it seems they have a culture of conversion and not one of discipleship and I think we need to be on guard against that here.

5 comments:

Royal in Texas on 17 January 2008 at 20:29 said...

Hey Phil.....We beat our heads against the wall to disciple..It is not purposefully our culture...It is the human desire to not give up control to Christ...I would guess it would be that way anywhere else in the world....That is why it is a common topic in "The Word"

God Bless

Phil on 17 January 2008 at 22:53 said...

Hey Royal, I bet you do - and yes you're right it isn't a US issue but a human issue. I think the relationship between UK and US means drawing comparisons are more possible. We certainly have our converts and not disciples but the backdrop is against a largely non-Christian nation rather than one with large numbers of self-proclaimed born agains.

And yes I'm sure no one set out to create a culture of converts, but that all the more makes me wonder if somewhere along the line the church has got something not quite right, that if what we're mostly producing is less than healthy fruit, then perhaps parts of the tree are also less than healthy. So for me, how do I preach the Gospel so that the call to repent is set in the context of the call to follow Christ and not seen as an optional extra? I'd love to hear your thoughts...certainly if this guy Kinnaman is right, you have your work cut out and deserve our prayers!! God Bless

Royal in Texas on 18 January 2008 at 00:50 said...

I think a natural problem for Christians is a pride in salvation instead of a gratefulness for grace. If we were more grateful we would give it away and we would live our lives in such a way that people would ask us where we get our hope as Peter wrote......

Check out the post I did a couple of days ago about the guy I ran into at Starbucks and then read the comment by the seemingly religious person about the way I handled the situation....

http://royalfarris.wordpress.com/2008/01/10/they-like-jesus-but-we-dont-act-like-him/

Royal in Texas on 18 January 2008 at 00:52 said...

PS: I have been reading UnChristian as well.

Phil on 18 January 2008 at 22:29 said...

Hi Royal
I read your post, really interesting. At our church we're also focusing a lot on what it means to Love God and Love People. For us that defines the essence and purpose of our lives.

I'd be interested to know what Bill would call the Gospel, how he would describe and whether when he's preached it, he considers the job done? I'll post that question on your blog and see if he replies!

Thanks for your conversation, it's appreciated.

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