From my previous post, recall that the Barna Research Group reported that a majority of youth—late teens to late thirty-year-olds (which I’ll call 20/30s)—who grew up in Christian homes have turned their backs on the faith.
Highlights of the Barna study revealed the 20/30s describe Christians 10 ways:
- Holding a morally superior attitude
- Judgmental and entrenched in their thinking
- Illogical and out of touch
- Too focused on getting converts
- Very conservative
- Having an Us vs. Them mentality
How did such a perverted view of Christianity and Christians come about?
- First, realize that most of those charges are at least partially true.
- And they are not good, except the last three—wanting to convert everyone, very conservative, and realizing the Us versus Them condition.
- Add to that a hostility against Christianity by many university professors and you begin to see where this attitude gained footing.
- Primary, I think, is that the Christian witness has become static. Instead of a personal encounter with Jesus flowering into a dynamic lifestyle reflecting God’s love and holiness, our religion becomes just another activity we do.
This is how they see us. We have to accept that fact if we want our lives to impact our society. So, how do we as Christian witnesses go about changing these perceptions?
- Recognize that there’s an element of truth in those charges against Christians. Work to change that. Show humility and seek forgiveness where it applies to you. II Chronicles 7:14 says: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
- Ask God to remove judgmental attitudes from your thinking, your words, your writing. Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
- Don’t equate Christianity with patriotism. I’m a veteran and proud of my country. I’m ticked off when someone disrespects our flag. We should speak out against that. But it’s a turnoff to unbelievers when Christians wrap their faith in the flag or their political party. When we do so, we expose Christ to ridicule.
- Abortion and the homosexual lifestyle are two great divides between Christians and the outsiders. Our opposition is branded intolerance. Yes, we have freedom of speech but begin by pointing people to Jesus. I’m not going to mouth simplistic solutions here. Jesus offered compassion to the woman caught in the act of adultery. At the conclusion of that confrontation, Jesus said, “Go, and sin no more.” Can we do no less?
- Anger. There’s a lot to be angry about in our country but don’t let it poison your writing or your speech. We naturally get satisfaction from venting our emotions. Though anger fires up your true believers, it also says you’ve stopped listening to the people you want to reach. Pray for the people who smirk at your mistakes and treat you unfairly. Learn why they are unkind and try to help them. Use what you learn about them in your writing.
- Us vs. Them. This is tough because that’s what it really is. They don’t understand because unbelievers don’t have the mind of Christ. The standard atheist approach is to look for proof before considering belief—or faith. As one outsider put it, “I will accept proof of the existence of the supernatural only after finding it in what science can prove …”
That’s the reverse of St. Anselm’s credo ut intelligan—“I believe so I can understand.” Or as C.S. Lewis put it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”
Develop a thankful heart, remembering that you were once alienated from God.
We may have to choose between success and significance. Christian writers have an exceptional opportunity—I would say responsibility—to repair the breach between the Christian faith and the 20/30 generation. Ask God to help you show what is real. In your writing—Screenplay, Short Story, Romance Novel, Memoir, Essay, Poetry, Song Lyrics, Historical Novel, even your Letter to the Editor—speak truth with love.
We Christian writers hold in our hands, in our hearts, in our commitment to our craft—the tools to convey what matters … what is real … and to foster real understanding of our faith.