Friday, October 26, 2007

They Like Jesus But Not the Church Part 1

I just recently finished reading a book by Dan Kimball called They Like Jesus But Not the Church.

When I picked it up at the Zoe Conference, my friend Adam told me that I wouldn't be able to put it down. I kind of internally scoffed at that, but in getting into it, I found that he was exactly right. While the book is written towards church leaders (of which I am not), I think it would be extremely valuable for all members of the Church to read. What Kimball did was become friends with people outside the church and in that, being a pastor, began to talk with them about the church and their perceptions and about Jesus and their perceptions of him. What he found was what became the title of the book, that people really like Jesus but not the Church.

Now at this point it's easy to say, "Well, sure. They like this pop culture view of lovey hippie Jesus who loves everyone and never gets mad, and might have gotten killed for some religious reason. And of course they don't like the Church. Christians are presented in the media and by some unfortunates like Dobson and Robertson and the late Fallwell as overzealous Bible beaters who hate everyone. Of course non Christians are going to think this way." Which I think is one of Kimball's points. People are basing perceptions on outside influences. One of the best ways to counteract that is by Christians not being locked into their own private ghettos of safe behavior and rather engaging the world.

At any rate, Kimball divided the book into three parts: an intro, the main meat, and a "what to do now."

In the main meat, Kimball divides the comments that people made about the church into 6 groups.
  1. The church is an organized religion with a political agenda.
  2. The church is judgmental and negative.
  3. The church is dominated by males and oppresses females.
  4. The church is homophobic.
  5. The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong.
  6. The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally.
I kind of agree with these things, although as a Christian I might substitute the phrase "can be" for "is." And when I realized that I agreed with a lot of these perceptions, that was a flash of realization... that there could be a lot of people who go to a church that really like Jesus, but not the Church, but continue to go out of tradition or whatever, but it's a dead experience. There's a lot of experience of church but not of Jesus. And that's a problem.

Next week, why church leaders will have a tendency to misuse this book.


Anonymous said...

In the corrupt culture we live in I find it a plus to be a little judgemental.

Jeff said...

Wow, anonymous. I guess that whole "Judge not..." line didn't quite take.

Adam said...

Internally "scoffed", Phil? Oh ye of little faith ;)

Justin said...

I definitely feel that in most churches I go in, even OC, to some extent, though lesser, because I know you're up in the sound booth probably thinking the same things that I am.

Maybe church will look different for Kinsey's kids, and my kids kids. Maybe it will look more like "the way" and less like "THE CHURCH".

Brandon Scott said...

"anonymous" displays why most people feel the way Kimball says they do. I've always found that people respond more to confession and vulnerability in seeking the Lord than they do in judgement. But...perhaps anonymous has won people over with this approach. I'm sure they are beating down his door wanting more of this judgement.

Anonymous said...

Since the church is the body of Christ, Eph. 1:23, how can one like Jesus but not the church?

Phil said...

Excellent question, my anonymous friend. and one I'm planning on addressing next week.

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