Emery White’s observations are based on the US scene but resonate very much with our own culture here in the UK. He argues that increasing numbers of young people are spiritual, but wary of institutional or organized religion. He cites a study conducted by Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman on people’s attitudes toward the church. Here’s their list of common responses:
- anti-homosexual (91%)
- judgemental (87%)
- hypocritical (85%)
- old-fashioned (78%)
- too involved in politics (75%) [surely more of a US problem!]
- out of touch with reality (72%)
- insensitive (70%)
- boring (68%)
- not accepting of other faiths (64%)
- confusing (61%)
Emery White offers a number of helpful insights and responses to the above including, later in the book, a helpful little two by two grid on grace and truth.
I think this is a helpful little tool to keep in mind as we engage our culture. Recent popularized responses to the issues around same-sex relationships have either been truth without grace (thereby confirming popular beliefs about Christianity as judgemental) or grace without truth (thereby failing to truly love people with God’s truth). A church with mission at its heart must seek to minister truth and grace together if we’re serious about reaching the culture with the greatest news in all of human history. This is one of the best books I’ve read in the last year and I’d strongly recommend it.