Kimball gears his book at those who want to get out of the Christian subculture and actually engage people in spiritual conversation.
In fact, most of Part I is how he came to that discovery in his own life as a pastor and church planter. I found myself nodding in agreement way too many times, guilty as charged.
Most of us, including many of you who read this blog, would probably agree that
we are too busy inside the church to know those outside the church.
To me, this was one of the seminal books in my missional thinking. Many others have followed in its path, such as
- Barna’s unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters, and to some extent (my review of unChristian)
- Evangelism Where You Live: Engaging Your Community by Stephen Pate
- Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and How to Reach Them: Ed Stetzer
I’m sure there are other books, but these three immediately come to mind in terms of reengaging the culture.
Part 1 of They Like Jesus
Part 1 of Kimball’s book describes how the culture is changing, particularly in North America.
These are not statistical observations, but observation based on his real life conversations and interactions with the culture.
What he states may seem obvious now, as many others have followed in Kimball’s footsteps. I need not spend a lot of time here. He’s quite brutally honest about how the church has failed to stay connected with the culture. The message may not have failed, but we are failing in our method.
Part 2 of They Like Jesus
Part 2 asks the question: What Emerging Generations Think about the Church.
This 6 chapter section reflects hundreds of personal conversations that Kimball has had, and many of the same things that Barna’s statistical research revealed in unChristian.
Anyone who is seeking to engage the current culture shapers should be aware of these items. This part provides an excellent window into North American Culture.
A list of non-Christian perceptions of the church addressed in this book are as follows (taken directly from the table of contents):
- The church is an organized religion with a political agenda
- The church is judgmental and negative
- The church is dominated by males and oppresses females
- The church is homophobic
- The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong
- The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally
Part 3 of They Like Jesus
Part 3 is on how the church can respond.
His book has excellent ideas about conversation, dialogue, and theological discussions about conversational evangelism.
I like what he has done with the Bridge Illustration, by adding a 2nd chasm to cross – that second chasm is the Christian subculture that has so alienated seekers, that one needs to build bridges of connection there as part of the gospel explanation process. Bridging that gap by being in the world but not of it, spending time in conversation with non-Christians are all part of that trust building process.
1. “We must see ourselves as missionaries vs. having an evangelism department or program.”
2. “We must become listeners of people and watchers of culture.”
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