This book was put out by the Barna group and, as the title suggests, is a survey of the "Mosaic" generation(born 1984-2002) and "Buster" generation(born 1965-1983) in the U.S. It was published in 2007 and is 246 pages long.
If you don't really want to read the whole book, the main ideas and findings of the book can be found in chapters 1 and 2. Chapters 3-8 give additional evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, about the six general characteristics by which Christians are described as by those Busters and Mosaics outside the church. Chapter 9 is some suggestions on how to go from an UNchristian perception of those outside the church to a Christian one. For the sake of space, I'm only going to summarize chapters 1,2, and 9. It took me about 20 minutes total to work through those three chapters.
If you don't want to read through all of what I'm about to write I thought this book was very challenging to the church in the US but spoken in love. As a member of the Mosaic generation alot of what this book reports is consistent with my own experience. I really think this book is a must-read for anyone who is a Christian, and especially for people who expect to be pastors 10-20 years from now. This will be the generation you will spend most of your time trying to reach. This is a pretty sobering study but the church needs to know what it is up against. I can't pretend that I really felt good or optimistic after reading this book, I just had to pray for an increased faith in God's part in redeeming his church.
The group interviewed includes atheists, agnostics, those affiliated with other faiths, and other unchurched adults who are not born-again Christians. Ages 18-41 of this group represent 34 million people in the US, ages 16-29 represent 24 million, ages 42-60 represent 21 million, and ages 61+ represent 12 million. (pgs. 17-18)
You'll notice the numbers, while still large, get smaller the older you get.
This book is based on the belief that God wants us to pay attention to these people.(18)
Christianity's image problem is not merely the perception of young otusiders. Those inside the church see it as well-especially Christians in their early 20's to 30's.(18)
A fourth detail to remember is the size and scope of Christianity in America. Everyone has to deal with massive numbers of people who are part of the Christian tradition. Christianity leaves a huge footprint in America.(19)
This book is designed to be a mirror for the church to see itself and its faith more clearly. Kinnaman writes that "My prayer is that GOd will reveal your attitudes and stereotypes as you ponder this research. I hope you will more carefully consider how firmly people reject-and feel rejected by-Christians, and that you come away feeling inspired with ways you can make a difference."(19)
"In many ways, young people perceive the world in very different terms than people ever have before. For example, the lifestyles of Mosaics and busters are more diverse than thoseof their parents generation including education, career, family, values and leisure. Young people do not want to be defined by a "normal" lifestyle. They favor a unique and personal journey. Many young people do not expect to be married or to begin a family as a young adult(if at all) though this may have been the expectation in the past. For both Mosaics and Busters, relationships are the driving force. Being loyal to friends is one of their highest values. They have a strong need to belong, usually to a tribe of other loyal people who know them well and appreciate them. Still, under their relational connectedness lies fierce individualism...though they esteem fair-mindedness and diversity, they are irreverent and blunt. Finding ways to express themselves and their rage is an endless pursuit. Being skeptical of leaders, products, and institutions is part of their generational coding...They wish to experience things for themselves disdaining self-proclaimed experts and talking heads. If something doesn't work for them or are not allowed to participate in the process they move on to something else...Spirituality is important, but most consider it to be just one element of a successful, eclectic life"(22-23)
There are roughly twenty-four million outsiders in America age 16 to 29. Of these, nearly seven million have a negative impression of evangelicals, another seven million say they have no opinion, and ten million say they have never heard the term. What they react negatively to is not any theological perspective but our "swagger", how we go about things and the manner of self-importance we project. Growing hostility towards Christians is very much a reflection of what outsiders feel they receive from Christians. Christians are primarily perceived for what they stand against. We have become famous for what we oppose, rather than who we are for(Selected lines from page 26)
The six main themes of negative perception are:
2. To focused on getting converts
5. Too political(for conservative issues and interests)
Found on 29-30. Chapters 3-8 deal with each perception individually.
Background of responders: (on pages 31-32)
1. Perceptions not formed in vacuum, most Mosaics and Busters have enormous experience with Christians and Christianity.
2. Experiences at churches, relationships, input from other religions, and what their parents have told them are all major factors.
3. Secular media does affect how outsiders view Christianity, but less than you might think. 9% of outsiders and 1/5th of young churchgoers said that Christianity has received a bad reputation from television and movies.
4. Painful encounters with the faith.
5. These painful encounters are more common with young people than the older.
Some Christians respond to outsiders negativity by promoting a less offensive faith. The unpopular parts of Christianity are omitted or deemphasized. The hijack the image of JEsus by portraying him as an open-minded, big-hearted, and never-offended anyone moral teacher. An entirely wrong idea. This happens because of two reasons. First, Christians are perceived to be increasinly aloof in matters pertaining to theology. This causes them to seem isolated from dealing with a new generation's concerns, doubts, questions, and objections. Second, in years to come, without major alterations to the UNchristian faith, it is expected that the hijacking of Jesus-this create your own savior mindset-will become even more popular with young adults. Many young adults who participate regularly in Christian church share many of the same negative perceptions as outsiders.
O = outsiders C = churchgoer
Is the church...
antihomosexual? O-91% C-80%
judgmental? O-87% C-52%
hypocritical? O-85% C-47%
old-fashioned? O-78% C-36%
too involved in politics? O-75% C-50%
out of touch with reality? O-72% C-32%
insensitive to others? O-70% C-29%
boring? O-68% C-27%
not accepting of other faiths? O-64% C-39%
confusing? O-61% C-44%
Young Christians also report:
1. trying to choose activities that will help bring people closer to Christ
2. that they realize the negative perception of Christianity impacts their relationship with their peers. 2/3rds say they believe outsiders have negative view of Cnty, 1/3rd say that Christians actions make them embarrassed to call themselves christians.
3. are reluctant to admit to their friends that they are Christians because they feel that would undermine their ability to connect with people. (36-38)
What people think about Christians influences how they respond
What people think about Christianity should help us be objective, transparent and honest
What people think of Christians can change
What people think of Christians is based on personal experience/stories. When you tell people you are a Christian, chances are good that the some, if not all, of the six perceptions are applied to you.
A place to begin change
Respond with the right perspective. Scripture tells us we won't be popular, but that doesn't give us license to have to like it or do nothing about it. Jesus was not willing to be defined by his enemies, he considered below-the-surface motives. If you receive valid criticism own up to it and confess, a denial just reinforces the idea of hypocriticalness. Confession is a good place to begin in changing minds about our sincerity. Connect with people. The only way to change people's experience is to interact with that experience and give them something new to consider. Be creative. Try to think of ways to respond to friends disbelief in a non-threatening but direct way. Serve people. We have to care about those outside the church.(Chapter 9 greatly paraphrased)
Hope you enjoyed the read, sorry about the length. I edited as much as I thought I could while still getting all the pertinent points.