Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Impressions of Christianity

A recent Barna Group survey found that “just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a ‘good impression’ of Christianity.” The study goes on to say that “One of the groups hit hardest by the criticism is evangelicals. Such believers have always been viewed with skepticism in the broader culture. However, those negative views are crystallizing and intensifying among young non-Christians. The new study shows that only 3% of 16 - to 29-year-old non-Christians express favorable views of evangelicals…

“Among young non-Christians, nine out of the top 12 perceptions were negative. Common negative perceptions include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%).” (© The Barna Group, Ltd., 1957 Eastman Ave. Ste B, Ventura, California 93003. Go to for the complete report)

I mention these findings for a number of reasons. First of all, we Christians should avoid practicing these stereotypes. Jesus called us to be salt and light to the world, but we often come off as being judgmental, unloving, and mean-spirited. Unfortunately fallen high-profile leaders have contributed to the image of hypocrisy with which many Christians are viewed.

Notwithstanding what I just said, we can’t compromise our principles. Therefore, we have to stand our ground in the light of attacks from those who promote immoral behavior or other things contrary to Christian principles (see my earlier posts on political correctness). To stand our ground appropriately (see Ephesians 6) we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, these perceptions show the power of the media. Mainstream TV, movies, and news coverage tend to have a liberal and anti-Christian bias (that shouldn’t be news to you). These continuous messages have an impact (for that same reason, companies spend billions of dollars on commercials and print advertising). That’s why we have to be careful what we let our kids watch, and should offset whatever anti-Christian propaganda they are exposed to with continual teaching of our values. Of course going to church and having the kids attend Sunday school is also a very good way to help them understand and appreciate the Christian faith, morals, values, and ethics, because they reinforce what you have been teaching them.

While it ultimately is up to our children to make decisions about religion and church when they are older, we do them a terrible disservice by not exposing them to church and Sunday school when they are younger so they can make an informed decision. Do you really want your children to learn about faith and morals from the media?

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