Cons: ignores the reality of the church in favor of the marketability of the church
The Bottom Line: While the concepts in the book are great, the author ignores the reality of the church and its issues completely.
I must first start this review by asserting that I am not in the least bit religious. I don't hail a god, I don't believe in a greater power, I believe only in what is proven and real. As I need justification for everything in life, religion is something that I study, stay informed of, yet I refuse to accept it until it is validated before me. However, with this said, I am very much interested in the concept of religion, the study of religion, and the proven history of religion. With that in mind, I am open to religion and the acceptance of it within the limitations of what can and cannot be proven.
One of the books that I read recently in search for a greater understanding of religion in general was a book by Dan Kimball, titled "They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations."
They Like Jesus but not the Church When I first found this book prior to getting on an airplane, I really didn't expect a whole lot out of it. I wanted something to read that would be intellectually stimulating and I figured this would be one of my best bets.
The essential concept of the book is that the face of religion has changed considerably throughout the last couple of decades. Where going to church was the norm of past generations, modern generations are starting to believe, but are avoiding the church altogether. The book itself was meant to be a study of why modern generations of Americans in particular were starting to avoid church, yet still have solid beliefs even without that solid church backing.
Throughout the book, the author talks about the reasoning behind avoiding the church in general and the concensus seems to simply be that the church is beginning to look far more corrupt than it ever has in the past. Rather than setting the standard by which all Christians should live, the church is becoming less and less appealing as the light to guide Christians. This of course has become one of the major issues for younger generations of believers. They are starting to see that while they may believe, they don't see the church as the holy means of communicating with their lord that it once was. It is because of this, that many are establishing their own beliefs and ideas of what it means to be Christian throughout the internet, their own personal reading, and through those that they associate with.
Another major issue has been the difficulty of living in a modern world while still attending to the typical Christian schedule. With more and more jobs requiring that employees have open availability, Sundays aren't the day of worship that they once were. Our modern society pushes us to constantly be moving, rather than taking that Sunday that was once cherished as a day of rest and reflection.
The author shows how churches are dealing with the issues related to the younger generations by bringing in younger more hip pastors, to using more hip and upbeat music, and incorporating more games and other forms of learning into their sermons and classes. They are attempting to use the internet and the media to show Christianity and being a Christian as something that is 'cool' and exciting, rather than something that is seen more as a Sunday obligation that interfers with other activities such as football.
Final Thoughts While I think the author makes some great points throughout the book about the theories of modern Christianity, I think that he really misses some of the most obvious reasons why modern day Christians don't go to church. I think this is mostly because he doesn't want to bring up the past negatives of the church for obvious reasons.
The true reality of the church is that it is all about making money. The church itself is nothing more than a money mongering corporation brilliantly labeled as a not for profit entity in order to horde even more money from its parishioners. This has and currently is the indentity of the church, especially the Catholic church. If money wasn't a motivator, then it would be perfectly acceptable for those believers to stay believers on their own terms rather than the church pushing to get them to actually attend. The reality is that without these believers in the seats, the churches don't make money, and without money, they cannot operate. Churches do provide numerous community services, however, in the eyes of the younger generations of people, they are hording the money for their own gain. The church of course can't overcome this stigma easily as it is embedded throughout hundreds of years of history.
Another major issue with the church is their unacceptance of many of those who do believe because of some of their life choices. By this I mean that many churches are unwilling to accept those that are gay/lesbian, some make issue with inter-racial relationships, those that have children out of wedlock, those that are divorced, etc. If you want members, you should accept everyone that wants to be a member, rather than limiting them based upon their past decisions. If religion is about forgiveness, then it should be about forgiveness.
These matched with the scandals and crimes against children have also made a major impact on the trust of believers in the ability of churches to do the job that they have been established to do.
It is the lack of these types of concepts that makes this book incredibly incomplete. Rather than accepting the mistakes of the church and attempting to move past those mistakes, the author assumes that there are other reasons that ultimately make the difference of whether or not someone goes or does not go to church. It is for this reason, that I see the book as nothing more than a marketing of the church as a wonderful entity, rather than highlight its reality in an attempt to better understand how to change its issues and overcome modern objections to not going to church.
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