UnChristian: Change the Perception (DVD)
Publisher: Baker Books
Based on Barna Group’s research on 16 to 29 year-olds, here’s how people outside the established church perceive Christians:
78% old fashioned
75% too involved with politics
72% out of touch with reality
70% insensitive to others
The presentation of their data is rather stinging to traditional conservative evangelicals, including myself. Based on my own perception of myself, I would never say these things about myself or about some of Christians I personally know or have befriended. Self-perception of oneself can be powerfully self-deceptive. Have we deceived ourselves into thinking that we are loving, compassionate, kind and open-minded? Perhaps. Whether we agree with our own perception or not, this is how the world outside our Christian bubble perceives us. Many of the older generations might not see Christians this way, but the younger ones do, so there has been a shift of perception of Christianity.
[added] What seems to be absent in this DVD was any attempt to address the concerns of Christians who hold to a traditional view of heterosexual marriage. We have to try to soften, and even reverse, the pejorative terms used against those of us who hold to a traditional view of marriage; terms like: homophobic, intolerant, discriminatory, or hate-filled. We are none of these things; we are loving Christian people who love all people. There are some Christians who are ignorant and unwise, and who will say the most stupid things that further negative stereotypes rather than change the negative perception to positive ones.
Some people on the outside feel that Christianity is no longer like Jesus intended. They may like Jesus as a figure/person but they don’t necessarily view Christians in nearly as good of a light as they would in Jesus. Well, that’s a little more comforting, but I wouldn’t allow that to let us get too comfortable. There’s lot of work we Christians need to change our image. The church might return to the pre-Constantine era soon than we think. If we do not diagnose the problems occurring within our Christian bubble, we will soon find ourselves on the outside of society within one or two generations. If that took place, we will hurt even more. So let’s do something today before it’s too late.
The UnChristian curriculum includes a DVD and a small study guide. The creators of this want to inform the church “what a new generation really thinks about Christianity…and why it matters.” They want to change the way Christ-followers perceive themselves. We tend to see ourselves in a positive light, but those outside of the church have a different perception. That is the thrust of this DVD presentation.
There is also a book co-authored by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. This DVD with study guide is part of a series of four categories of DVDs: Culture, Future, Church, and Gospel. They each take the basic format of four group meetings: 18-minute video talk on the topic, 2) a Fermi Short which is a 5000 word essay to be read ahead of time; 3) a video expression that models the theme, and 4) suggestions for a Culture Shaping Project. Other study guides in this curriculum include:
- Influence Culture
- Create the Future
- Find the Good
- Unchristian: Change the Perception
The model it takes is based on the Society Room model, which is now simply called Q, which encourages people to participate in group meetings of learning and discussion. The leader facilitates the group discussion and plays the DVD rather than just talks. In the small booklet provided with the DVD, there are questions for the leader to ask the small group in his/her facilitation of each of the four meetings, which might include a dinner. This format kind of reminds me a little of the way Alpha group is done. The leader is encouraged to create conversation, cause people to do some critical thinking, influence and to take action.
By having a group of concerned Christ-followers from your church or fellowship watch this DVD “unchristian: change the perception”, we might be able to take a few first steps to learn about ourselves and see our own problem (or put in positive spin, to see our current situation as a problem).
I would recommend Q for all concerned Christians and church groups. It will definitely make us more self-aware. Believe me, as Christ-followers, we need to be more self-aware. Otherwise, we may lose an entire generation of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings. They are already entire generations missing in many of our churches. We need to turn this tide around before it’s too late.
I wish to thank the good people at Baker Books for sending me a copy to review.