Review of “They Like Jesus, But Not The Church”

It’s no secret, the church is in a decline.  Attendance and support for the Church has been in on a steady downturn for many, many years. A whole host of reasons have been given on why this is.  Some blame MTV and iPhones, others blame parents for not taking their children, while others blame extra-curricular activities and sports.  Whatever the problem might be, rarely does anyone blame the church itself and the people that are attending it.

Dan Kimball is a minister and author.  He noticed that when he met people and got to know them that there are a great number of people who like Jesus, but not the Church.

The book discusses what the Church has done to foster these views, and how to address them. Kimball encourages Christians to leave the “Christian bubble” and listen to what non-Christians are saying.

Through a series of interview Kimball articulates six objections that people have with the church. At first glance a person is who in the church and has a connection with God because of it might be defense and even dismissive. Therein lies the problem. Kimball argues that Christian live in a “Christian bubble” and therefore think they know and understand those who do attend church or even believe in God.

Here are the six objections

Objection #1: The church is an “organized religion” with a political agenda;
Objection #2: The church is judgmental and negative
Objection #3: The church is male dominated and oppresses females
Objection #4: The church is homophobic
Objection #5: The church feels Christianity is right and all other religions are wrong
Objection #6: The church is full of “fundamentalists” who take the Bible too literally.

Kimball does a good job of showing both sides of the issues, expect for number four; on this particular issue he touches on the accepting side of the issue but still comes down (and pretty hard I might add) on the side of homosexuality is sin.

Selected quotes from the text:

“The more we focus on what we stand for instead of what we stand against, the more we will line up with Jesus and his teachings about the kingdom of God, and the more we will be seen as a people who will believe in truth and love.”

“We need to be open and honest about the difficult passages and odd stories in the Bible. It seems more people are doing their homework about the Bible outside the church than they are inside the church.”

“Our goal should not be to get people to ‘go to church.’ We should be inviting people to participate in the life of the church community and to participate in the activity of God, not merely inviting them to attend our worship services.”

Kimball’s book may not be the end all be all to Christian evangelism and prevalence  but I believe that this book is a good conversation starter. Kimball glosses over a few things here and there but for the most part drives home the point that the church has to do something to reach out to the emerging generations.

I think that this text would be good for the leaders of a church or even an evangelism committee. The point of reading this text is to start conversation, not to change minds… that takes time.

Link to Amazon

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Happy Reading!!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

The Gospel According To Family Feud

The other day I was watching TV and the game show “Family Feud” came on.  I have enjoyed the show in years past but it has been a while since I had ever actually sat down and watched it.  The very first survey question caught my attention.  It was:

Name a profession whose members will have a hard time getting into Heaven

Interesting survey question to say the least. What is “Family Feud”‘s goal here? By simply asking this question the creators/writers of the survey question were making a theological statement. To them salvation is found in how good of person you are AND there are people in this world who because of their choice of profession will not inherit the riches awaiting them in Heaven. While there are some who believe that Heaven is reserved for Christians only, there are some who believe that all of humanity will not be barred from the glories of God.

Not so says Family Feud…

Here is what the survey said:

  1. Lawyer
  2. Politician/Govt.
  3. Stripper
  4. Prostitute/Pimp
  5. Drug dealer
  6. Athlete

Other answers not making the survey:

  • Tax collector
  • Hit man
  • Con artist
  • Thief

One first glance the majority of the people listed by the survey are those that fit certain stereotypes. Polticans lie and cheat, lawyers lie to get their way, drug dealers are preying on the youth of America, etc. etc. The only one that didn’t make sense to me was ‘athlete.’ Sure in recent year in the age of steroids and mega contracts there are those who believe that professional athlete are nothing more than big, money hungry babies. Of course, this isnt always the case and I do point out that the survey did not specify between pro and amateur athletes, so looks like my league baseball days has punched my ticket to netherworld known as hell. 😀

The theology that Family Feud is promoting is one what widely labels certain professions as negative.  Forget the fact that there are lawyers that take on cases for free, forget the politicians who actually do their due diligence and serve those they represent, forget the athlete that is using his/her God given talents to play a sport and use part of their salary to fund charity work.  Just forget all of that… let’s make generalization… because that has worked in the past, right?

Am I making too much out of a game show?  Maybe, but maybe not; the fact of the matter is that theology can be promoted outside of a stained glass building.  Sure it is light hearted game show but is there an element of truth?  Yes, but a gross over simplification with an element of theology can be a scary thing; that’s just enough knowledge to be dangerous.  Now I am not sure how many people draw their spiritual knowledge from a game show but is a conversation that is happening outside the church in the public arena.

I believe people are seeking this conversation about the Divine in the world today… Family Feud is just starting it off for us.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Misconceptions About Christians: Part II

 This is my latest article in the Orange County Record.

If you missed part, check it out now!  Misconceptions About Christians: Part I

This is part two in the series of the Misconceptions about Christians.  Last week I touched on the misconception that to be a Christian you have to read the Bible literally.  Today I will speak another misconception.

Misconception #2- To be a Christian means you have to go to “church”- While this might seem a bit counterintuitive for a minister to say such a thing, hear me out.  I like to remind people that nowhere in the Bible does Jesus Christ ever advocate or command that his followers go to church.  Christ’s message was about bringing the love and reconciliation of God to all people in all places.  Never did Jesus say “And on the Sunday gather together in a building for one hour and then return to your lives.”

The church at one time in the United States was the cultural center of a town.  The perception was that everyone in the town was a Christian and attended service somewhere on Sunday mornings.  It wasn’t ‘if’ you were going to church, rather it was “to which” church you were going to attend.

But over the years, the understanding of ‘church’ has changed and not everyone is on board with it—a conflict has arisen.  One of the biggest so called ‘worship wars’ is how church is supposed to look.  Some people want the ‘traditional’ way of worshipping: pipe organs, hymnals, wearing your ‘Sunday Bests’, etc.  On the other hand there are those who want a more ‘laid back’ or ‘contemporary’ approach- ‘come as you are’ mentality to clothing, praise bands, screens with images and song lyrics.  You can try to blend the two together which sometimes works, but more often than not, one side feels the other side has “taken over.”

These two different styles have literally split congregations.  But the truth is to be Christian does not mean that you have to attend a worship service in a stained glass windowed building on Sunday morning at 11am.  No, rather, worship is supposed to be an expression of gratitude and adoration to God, so how one connects with the Divine is up to them.  Don’t get me wrong I believe that fellowship and support of other Christians is vital to faith formation, but it is not limited to a building we call “church.”  More and more churches are finding that small group and house church ministries are reaching people that had never graced the door of a church before.  Why? Because these groups are generally smaller and more intimate.  There is something comforting about expressing one’s doubts about faith issues in someone’s home than in a church building.

The church grew out of a collection of people that wanted to get together and worship God.  In the early church, they did not meet in multi-story buildings rather they met in homes.  The church today is still the place where faithful followers of God come to worship, but what that looks like for the future is still unknown.  I believe that the Church may not look like it does today fifty years from now.  But one thing is for sure, I believe what Christ said about where two or more are gathered, there he will be also.  Whether it is in a home, 100 year old stained glass building, an old Wal-Mart or a strip mall, the church will remain.

Next week I will continue my series on the misconceptions about Christians.  I would love your feedback.

Misconceptions About Christians: Part I

Below is my latest article in the Orange County Record.

Being a minister, I am often asked why more people are not Christians. Sometimes this question comes from a person struggling with the notion that there are others who do not believe in Christ. Others ask this question because they see the decline in the particularity of the Church.

Whatever their reasoning, the question is asked out of love for their faith.

To be honest there really is no clear cut answer; this is something the Church has struggled with for centuries. But it seems like today this predicament is on the minds of Christians of all walks of life. People leave the faith or are not interested in Christianity for various reasons. Maybe they had a bad experience with a particular minister, maybe they could not ‘wrap their brain’ around a particular theology, maybe they were told that their beliefs were wrong or that their questions were not valid. For whatever reason the fact of the matter is that the Church itself does not hold the cultural and societal significance that it once did. I do not know if it ever will be that way again—a sobering thought for a young minister like me.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Christians today and I want to explore some of them over the next few weeks.

I believe that the “Achilles heel” of the Church are Christians themselves. Mahatma Gandhi is quoted to have said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” If we claim to be followers of Christ, then why aren’t people experiencing the presence of Christ when Christians are around them? There seems to be a disconnect between what is professed in sanctuaries around the world and what is actually followed through with by fellow Christians.

So what are the misconceptions about Christians?

Misconception #1- Christians have to read the Bible literally. – The Bible is the foundational document of the Christian faith and has been the focal point for millennia. However, the way that it has been read and interpreted varies greatly. The Bible has been read by billions of people and each person has taken something different from the text.

How much are we limiting the Bible and the power of God to reveal Godself through the pages of scriptures if the Bible is limited to one interpretation? If there was one way to read the Bible then all of the churches should be on the same page. But the last time I checked this is not the case at all. Many people who believe in the literal interpretation of scripture often do not all agree on how that looks in actuality. First Corinthians states that women should cover their heads in worship, but a small fraction of Christian women actually do this. If the Bible is to be taken literally then how to do you know what to take literally and what not to take literally? Obviously one cannot take Jesus’ parables literally because they are stories in help get across a main point. What about the commandments on how to treat slaves? What about the dietary laws in the Old Testament? Not many Christians have ever sold all they had as Christ stated was a requirement to enter the Kingdom.

Does this mean that the Bible is unimportant? No, but the way that one person interprets the scriptures may be completely different than the way another person interprets the scriptures and the shocking part is they both might be in the same congregation. Too often all Christians are labeled as literalist and this is flat wrong. Some of the most famous and prolific Christian thinkers did not take the Bible literally. Maybe some people believe that women should not hold a leadership position in the church, others do. Some people believe that world was created in six days and others do not. They are both reading the same scripture, following the same Christ but see the Bible in completely different ways. Does this mean that one is wrong and the other is right? No, it just means that they see the experiences of the faithful of God printed in the pages of scriptures in ways that speaks to them.

Next week, I will continue this series on the misconceptions about Christians. I would welcome your insight and feedback. You can contact me at