In an effort to sharpen my ministry saw, I read Dan Kimball's book They Like Jesus But Not the Church. I came to see it as an Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary for emerging generations. It was excellent and helpful.
Drawing on his conversations with friends who like Jesus but not the church, Kimball tries to give us a window into how emerging generations think and feel about church. Here are some thoughts (none really profound) that the book reinforced:
- Relationships are key. Emerging generations care very deeply about friendships. Talking about Jesus can't be of the anonymous variety. That simply won't cut it. We have got to be doing all we can - in our workplaces, neighborhoods, coffeeshops - to build relationships and to listen. Listening is the primary means of connecting with someone else.
- The church can be political but not partisan. I don't think emerging generations want us to be spineless and / or disconnected from the world and its problems. We need to be engaged in issues of justice and freedom and love. But can we do it without being partisan? Can we help the poor without being branded liberals? Can we be a voice for the unborn without being dismissed as right-wing kooks? Can we be a church of Jesus-followers who infect both (or all) political parties with his values? And, can we remember that regardless of the political party we identify with, as followers of Jesus, we are all on the same team.
- Gender issues are uberimportant. This is probably the biggest takeaway for me in Kimball's book. I don't want Vintage to be seen as a chauvinistic, male-dominated place. I am reminded that I constantly need to be thinking about how what we believe about the equality of women can be projected in what we do. There shouldn't be a disconnect there.
- It's ok to be an organized church. The "organized religion" thing has almost gotten cliche, but ultimately emerging generations are not opposed to organization that typifies the humility and team-orientation that need to be present in leadership. Vintage is on its way to this, but we still have ground to trek.
All in all, good and interesting book. It is written primarily for pastors of established and modern churches, but it served as a great reminder to me about why I caught up in this Vintage thing in the first place.