Why do so many people say that they like Jesus, but not the church? And how can Christians go about changing that perception?
Dan Kimball, Kevin DeYoung, and Ed Stetzer joined guest-host Russell Moore yesterday on the Albert Mohler Program to talk about how unbelievers view the church, and how the people of Christ can reach lost men and women—those at the coffee shop, or sitting next to you on the bus, or those working in the cubicle adjacent to yours right now—with the only gospel that saves.
From DeYoung, on how best to overcome obstacles to sharing the gospel:
"...on the one hand, the great opportunity in our day is that people like Jesus. On the other hand the great obstacle that we have to overcome is that a lot of those same people have a very negative view of Christians, and of Christianity—and sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly. But regardless, perceptions are reality to the ones who hold them, so we just have to deal with those perceptions. And I think the way to do it is to move forward with lots of patience, lots of humility, lots of love—not watered-down—but walk with people and establish a relationship, and help people to see that, 'You know what? Maybe this view of Christianity that I had really was founded on stereotypes, and there is something different about these people.'"From Kimball, on dispelling stereotypes of Christians as harsh and judgmental, but without doing away with sin and judgment:
"To me, it's simple, if we just think of ourselves like missionaries again in our own world—whether it's Michigan, or Santa Cruz, California. The Spirit of God does the convicting and the wooing, but we're used—I don't want to say that it's all human effort—but when you start building trust with people, then they listen more. And if they know that you care about them—and it's felt in the sincerity of your preaching, and attitudes, and your tone—you don't have to hide anything."From Stetzer, on what it means for Christians to be truly authentic with unbelievers:
"I think that authenticity is basically a simultaneous admission that I'm imperfect, in need of the work of Christ and the cross, but at the same time sharing that struggle in that journey along the way... I think that authenticity is built from pastors and leaders, but also from everyday people who say, 'Here's what Christ has done, how he's changed me, how the gospel shapes me, but I'm also the one who's filled with faults and failures—struggling, but trusting in the power of Christ."Listen to the whole thing.
For more, check out Kimball's They Like Jesus but Not the Church, DeYoung's (co-authored) Why We Love the Church, and Stetzer's (also co-authored) Lost and Found.
And may the Lord spare Christians from being known as people who say they like Jesus, but not those outside the church.