Book Review – David Kinnaman, and Aly Hawkins. You lost me

David Kinnaman, and Aly Hawkins. You lost me: why young Christians are leaving church– and rethinking faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: BakerBooks, 2011.

This is a must read for Senior Pastors, Youth Pastors and anyone that works with youths.  You Lost Me is a frank look at the reality of the church and the relationship with the Millennials or Mosaics (youths under 35)[1], particularly those who are 18 to 35.  These youths were basically born between the 80s to now. This is an inside look at the struggles of the next generations of Christians.  Kinnaman and Hawkins stated, “The story –the great struggle-of this emerging generation is learning how to live faithfully in a new context, to be in the world but not of the world.”[2] This generation they contends, is about doing their faith not just hearing their faith or doctrine; it is about faith in action.

Here is the new paradigm, discipleship is not about mass production but it is about relationship, it is about building disciples one person at a time.  Kinnaman and Hawkins identify three kinds of young Christian dropouts; “NOMADS are those youths that walked away from church engagements but still consider themselves Christians, PRODIGALS are those youths that have lost their faith and are describing themselves as no longer Christians, and EXILES are those youths that are still invested in their Christian faith but feel struck between their culture and the church.”[3]He challenges the church to rethink its approach to disciple making focusing on building relationships, vocation (calling) and to help the ‘Mosaic’ value wisdom over information.

There is an abundant of information but little ‘know how’ to wisely apply this knowledge.  Kinnaman and Hawkins also posited that the church is facing a shift or major shifts regardless of our age or generation.  They continued to talk about the fast-pace changes that are being led by the fast-pace and volume of information that is present and available by a click of the mouse.  The next generation, they argued, is living in a new and fast technological, social and spiritual reality; three words, access, alienation and authority can characterize this reality.  Access involves this digital age, downloadable books, direct TV, Internet, tablets and PDAs.  Alienation includes the breakdown of the family with absent fathers, the transition to adulthood by the Millennials, and skepticism of institution and Authority surrounds the changing spiritual narrative in North America.

Social media has shown a different view regarding authority.  They do not think music downloads and file sharing over the Internet is wrong as long as you are not profiting from it.  The influence of the Bible is still to be decided, many are trying to sort between what they are told in the mass media and what the church is teaching. They have not yet separated their values from the Busters’ generation.  The Busters are still deciding the role of Christianity on the culture.  Kinnaman and Hawkins said, “the digital revolution, endemic social change, and shifting narrative of faith in our culture have deeply affected the cognitive and emotional process of “encoding” faith.  Many Millennials are seeking authority outside of the conventional Christian forms.

All is not lost, they said, the ‘Millennaials’ are looking more to historical forms of their faith and the younger generation needs the older generations to help them identify the voices of God like Eli and Samuel.  It is about helping fewer people go deeper in their faith rather than mass evangelism.  They quoted Dallas Willard, author of Knowing Christ Today, that “we must connect spiritual wisdom with real-world knowledge and teach through experience, reason and authority if we are going to pass on the values and principles to the next generation”.  These principles can be applied in all areas of our time, sexual relations, job, family and social environments.  Kinnaman and Hawkins posited that sexuality is a major point of contention in the new environment. The good news, they concluded, is that the Millinnaials are open to the historical values of our Christian faith.  The important thing that the older generation must accept is a new mind as Kinnaman and Hawkins stated, “Christian community needs a new mind to pass on the faith to this culture and future generation”.[4]  We can still speak into the next generation; the door is not yet closed.

[1] Here is the generational division as describe by Kinnaman and Hawkins; Millennials (18-27), Busters (28-46)(Gen Y), Boomers (47-65), Elders (66+).

[2] David Kinnaman, and Aly Hawkins. You lost me: why young Christians are leaving church– and rethinking faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: BakerBooks, 2011, Kindle location 128.

[3] Kinnaman, Hawkins. You lost me, Location 325.

[4] Kinnaman, Hawkins. You lost me, Location 3432. 

Book Review – R. Albert Mohler – Culture shift

R. Albert Mohler – Culture shift: engaging current issues with timeless truth. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Multnomah Books, 2008.

I just recently finish reading this book and here is my recap.

This is a must read for every Christian leader. Dr Mohler laid out a path in which the Christian culture can interface with the secular culture. He argues the point that there is no truly secular space in this debate. Any discussion on morality and justice has to flow from a point outside of our own conscience. The church has to understand, as Augustine argues in his book, The City of God Against Pagans, that there are two cities that are constantly dialoguing. These two cities are the City of God and the City of Man.

The City of God is eternal and has as its core purpose the Glory of God. On the other hand the City of Man is “filled with mixed passions, allegiances, and compromised principles”.[1] He identified three secular arguments for the eradication of religious discourse from the public square and reasoned why those arguments have no standing. He said that the idea of secularism is based on the argument that the culture ought to be established purely on secular terms. He called this the ‘oughtness’.

In the book Dr. Mohler referenced Robert Reich former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration because his argument is for a separation of religion and government. He highlighted Robert Audi, professor of philosophy at the University of Nebraska, for advancing the argument for a pure secular space in public policy and Kathleen Sullivan professor of law for advocating a religious liberty, as so far as it is consistent with the establishment of a secular, moral order.

These points of views form the basis of secular resistance to religious engagement in Public Square. These points of views, he argues have no standing. There are no truly secular states. Secularism denies the existence of God because as Dr. Mohler said, “if God did not exist, that would bring immediate demands upon society-obligations and prohibitions that society would not be able to simply ignore without admitting that it is only tacitly or operationally secular.” Any question regarding life and death, human identity, existence and meaning of the universe has to consider the possibility of the existence of God. There are no truly secular arguments. He continues, “Anyone who wants to make an argument about anything beyond procedure will have to deal with questions of meaning, morality and value. These are areas that are larger than any human frame of reference”.[2]

Dr. Mohler posited that the myth of secular motivation is exposed by the argument that, “ A human being can never know what he would believe if he were not motivated by what centrally motivates him.” You will not know yourself to a level that you separate yourself for your motivations. How can we depend on the arbitrator of rules and laws to make the right and just law if they are to ignore everything and believe there is no other motivation than ultimately ones own existence? The judge or the politician should ignore his religious and non-religious worldview and make decisions in an abstract way.

With this understand Dr. Mohler then suggested five theses for dealing with Christian morality and public law. The first point is that liberal democracy must allow all participants in the debate to speak, within the context of the constitution, wither it is offensive or not. Those that are deciding and overseeing public policies and laws must declare their convictional basis. There must be limits on secular and religious discourse. For example the state should not be sponsoring and setting up one religion over another or should one mayor/governor institute a law outside of the legislative process. There must be room for comingling of secular and religious arguments, motivations and outcomes. The rights of all citizens must be recognized. This type of environment assumes a certain level of risk of offense by defending and allowing free speech. He concluded the book by looking at different spaces in public discourse and suggested ways the church can positively interact with secularism.

[1] R. Albert Mohler, Culture shift: engaging current issues with timeless truth. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Multnomah Books, 2008, Kindle location 101.

[2] Mohler, Culture shift, Kindle location 217