Friday, January 25, 2013

The greatest commandment

A recent post on Paul Windsor's blog referred back to his 2008 reflections on David Kinnaman's book Unchurched.  According to research from The Barna Group, non-church-going American 16-29 year-olds perceive the Church as:
  1.  too hypocritical;
  2.  too focused on getting converts (outsiders 'feel like targets rather than people' p29);
  3. too antihomosexual (for a staggering 91% of respondents - as 'hostility towards gays has become virtually synonymous with Christian faith' p92);
  4. too sheltered ('Christians seem aloof and insulated', p124);
  5. too political ('a movement that was bursting with energy to spread good news to people 20 years ago - has been exchanged for an aggressive political strategy that demonises segments of society', p153);
  6. too judgmental. 
The thing that strikes me about Paul's list?  When outsiders look at us, they feel our hate.*

It reminds me of my Saturday morning walks to my local Farmers Market when I lived in Pittsburgh.  En route, I passed by an abortion clinic.  A Christian group regularly picketed that clinic and aggressively accosted anyone they suspected might be trying to get to it.  I so hated the intimidating manner of the people who accosted me that sometimes I walked a much longer way around just to avoid them.  In no way did I get the impression that these were people who cared about me or my (possible!) unborn child: I just felt that they wanted to obstruct and oppose me and I wanted to get away.

It makes me really sad.

* see points 3., 6., probably 5. and, to an extent, 2.

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