Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review: You Lost Me -- Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church And Rethinking Faith
You Lost Me
(by David Kinnaman)

I was looking through the books I had on our e-reader (I forget what I was looking for), when I came across one that I had downloaded several years ago, but never got around to reading: You Lost Me--Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church And Rethinking Faith. Having just watched a documentary called Divided about the problem of youth leaving the church, the topic was fresh on my mind. Like Divided, this books aims to diagnose the church drop-out problem and propose solutions. Unlike Divided, this book is backed by years of research and offers a more balanced point of view.

The book is divided into three sections. The first covers the different kinds of church dropouts. One surprising finding here is that most dropouts are not leaving Christ or the Bible, but the institution of the church. They are fed up with the system, so they leave to pursue God on their own. In the first part, Kinnaman also talks about "access, alienation, and distrust of authority"--three unique features of today's culture that have compounded the dropout problem. Reading through these, I could relate on certain levels.

The second part is about the reasons young adults drop out. Kinnaman talks about how he expecting to discern one or two overall themes--what he found was six, emphasizing the uniqueness of every situation. In general, young adult drop outs found the church either overprotective, shallow, antiscience, repressive, exclusive, or intolerant of doubt. These are the areas where we as a community need to ask serious questions about how we operate, not simply changing to meet the latest trends, but seeing if we need to adapt to confront the culture of today. The new generation may have its problems, but they have something to teach us.

Finally, Kinnamon talks about solutions. Here, he is pretty vague, but in my opinion that's ok. I read his book not for a solution but for the research. One of the things I really like about this book is how Kinnaman continually emphasizes "every story matters." We can discern general trends in the data and recommend general principles, but there is no one size fits all solution. Every congregation must take these principles and figure out how to apply them to their own congregation--Kinnaman does not offer a formula for success (because there isn't one).

If you get a chance to read this book, be sure to share your thoughts below. I always love a good conversation about a good book =)

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