Tag Archives: reading

Relationship Advice – unChristian

One thing I like about my job is that, as a staff, we read books together and discuss them and learn from them together.

Right now we’re reading unChristian by David Kinnaman.  This book is not for the faint of heart or slightly attention deficit.  It’s a deep one.  For one, it’s all about a research study.  Be prepared to get hit over and over with hard facts and data.  Personally, I love this book.  I don’t love how it’s making me feel, but that’s ok–sometimes change and hard truths can be painful.  No pain, no gain.  Right?

It’s really going well with the theme of relationship advice that I feel I’ve had in abundance through the books I’m reading and studies I’m participating in.  Might God be trying to tell me something?

David Kinnaman (with the Barna group) wrote this book to show Christians what non-Christians think of them.  And, not in a stereotypical way for the most part, but a real impression formed from relationships with Christians and experiences in churches.  He focuses on two age groups–the Mosaics (born from 1984-2002, I gen. behind me) and the Busters (born btw. 1965-1983, my gen.).  The older generations are mentioned and included, but not focused on.  This makes sense to me.  Folks that age, especially ones that grew up around here, have a much more traditional view of church.  They are going to go and “like it” because they were raised going to church and they can’t imagine their lives if they were not at least throwing attempts at church.

The first two chapters lay the ground work for the study.  The whos the whats and the whys.  I believe his main point is that we have strayed so far from what Jesus intended Christianity to be, that outsiders (his word, not mine) really view us as UN-Christian.  This is sad.  Heartbreaking, really.  Here are the top words outsiders use to describe present-day Christianity: antihomosexual (91%), judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), too involved in politics (75%), out of touch with reality (72%), insensitive to others (70%), boring (68%), not accepting of other faiths (64%), and confusing (61%).  My FIL picked this book up off of my kitchen counter, saw those findings and threw the book down with a huff.  “That’s what they’ve always said about us.  I’m not surprised.”  And I’m not surprised that they still are with that sort of attitude.  This something’s-wrong-with-them-and-not-us attitude.

I love that the book delves into what shapes these views and what sort of changes can happen so that a shift can begin to happen.  I’ve heard several smart people say, “If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always gotten.”  I don’t have any specific problem with any specific church.  I understand that we are all on the same team.  But, when I think that they may be perpetuating the struggles that outsiders are having with my faith, then my feathers get ruffled.  I feel the need to throw a french fry at their foreheads.  I’m sorry to say that there are still more churches than not who are catering to those who are already saved and WILL BE FINE on the other side of eternity because they are afraid to do something different.  They continue on with their Sunday school, hymns and pot lucks because it’s comfortable and expected.  If you have to spend a little to understand what will make that connection from someone who is far from Christ that will ultimately bring them steps closer to Him, then I think that is time well spent.  I’m not saying that the church I work for has all the answers, I am just saying that we are spending the time and having the conversations and asking the hard questions.  And, if we have to play music that they KNOW and can sing along with to get them to let down their guards and let Jesus begin to work on their heart–we are going to do that.

Believe it or not, the first 2 chapters were not my favorite.  It got better for me.  Each chapter following takes one of those negative perceptions and breaks it all the way down to personal stories, how we’ve set ourselves up as Christians to be perceived in this way, and a biblical perspective on what we can do to begin to change it.  Stay tuned for much more of Mandi on her soapbox.  As God fires me up, I’m throwing it out to you in hopes that it’ll be contagious.  Chapter 3 – Hypocritical.

Advertisements

This American Life

Not only do I really love reading people’s stories through their blogs, but I love listening to stories.  As children, if we were lucky enough, we got read to while sitting in our mother’s lap and lost ourselves in beautiful tales of imagination and fantasy.  As adults, we lose some of that.  We become the readers and our imaginations begin to lose their spark.  Where they once felt the freedom to travel on limitless journeys, now they tend to stick a little closer to home.

The way I get read to these days is through podcasts.  I’ve subscribed to several, given them a chance or two and then unsubscribed if they didn’t grab my attention.  I have two that have grabbed on and haven’t let go.

The first is the podcast from North Point Community Church.  Andy Stanley (son of Charles) is the pastor at this large church with 3 campuses in the Atlanta area.  Andy is a phenomenal storyteller.  Though I continue to try, I’m not getting a lot from reading the Bible “in my mind”…what I call reading to yourself, when you can hear your own voice telling the story in sort of an echo fashion inside your mind.  But, Andy tells the stories of the Bible in a way that paints a beautiful and very real picture for me.  Typically, he takes one story and sticks to it through an entire series of messages, going deeper each week and taking you to places you might not have seen in reading it on your own.  As I listen to these podcasts, I really just feel like I’m listening to a great story instead of being taught.  Though, he always does manage to sneak in valuable lessons on me.

Then, a few weeks ago my brother was visiting from NYC and played an episode of This American Life from his iPod on a short road trip we were taking.  They choose a different topic each week and the person(s) who actually experienced it tells their story.  Today, as I was driving Carter around to get him to fall asleep (yes, still doing that), I listened to part of the episode titled “The Middle of the Night”.  In the hour long podcast, I listened to vivid stories about teenagers who performed a middle of the night initiation ceremony, the experience of produce buyers/sellers in NYC, people who stayed up all night to get free Chick-fil-A coupons for a year at a grand opening, the experience of traveling in an Iraqi night convoy and a mother who stayed up in a hospital all night with her sick daughter.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the smallness and complexities of my own life that I forget about the lives going on all around me.  This podcast takes me to those places and keeps me from being so closed in on myself only.

Plus, I love a good story and I love to be read to.


The Book I’m Reading

terribletwos

I am just over halfway through this book “Making the Terrible Twos Terrific” by John Rosemond.  I’m going through it slowly and digesting all the good information in it.  Rosemond gives some very sound and Biblical advice for raising a 2 year-old, though he doesn’t at all rely only on the Bible as his source of knowledge for this book.  I’ve decided to start writing about the “things” he brings up in this book that have already changed our approach drastically:  The Discipline Thing, The Toy Thing, The TV Thing and The Potty Training Thing.  The best way for me to remember something I’ve read or learned is to write about it, so I’m just putting out a warning that these THINGS are coming.  Take them for what they are.  I happen to think he’s right on.  Stay tuned…