I’ve lost plenty of sleep over David Kinnaman’s book, “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity … and Why it matters.
The book deals with a new generation of young people who see Christianity and the church as only anti-homosexual, sheltered, too political and judgmental. Where has this new generation got these ideas? From watching people who say they are followers of Jesus. Many of the new generation are claiming, “We want to be like Jesus, just not anything like the Christians we see.”
Christianity pretty much has an image problem. Too many who profess to be Christians, don’t act anything like Jesus in their lifestyle. I’ve even heard some who have dropped calling themselves “Christians,” because they think the word has been ruined by those who just talk-the-talk. They’re now referring to themselves as “Jesus followers.”
Mike Cope has more on the subject here.
Are Christians like this? Do you see this perception?
I’ll give you more thoughts on this later … what do you think? Got an opinion?

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
35 Comments Post a Comment
  1. David says:

    That's a good read, but a tough one. Our class did a series over it last year.

    Christian certainly do have this perception and I think a big part of that we bring on ourselves.

  2. Brian K. Vaughan says:

    "The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

    I first heard this quote at the beginning of one of the dc Talk songs. I try my best to not conflict what I am saying and what I am doing. Still not always perfect, but when I need to be an example to non-believers I pray that my words and actions both will not turn them off to Christianity.

  3. Angie says:

    Got an opinion? yep. I do.

  4. TREY MORGAN says:

    Brian – Amen!

    Angie – Me too, and mine is going to get me in trouble in a few days. :)

  5. Stoogelover says:

    I saw that in the Long Beach area and when I tried to explain this to the elders there (not the present guys, but the original elders when I was hired), one elder in particular thought I was "church bashing"! Where we live now is far more "Christian friendly" than Los Angeles area. But then just about anywhere is more Christian friendly than LA. Not only did I often not want to say I was a "Christian" because of the baggage that word has, I was even more hesitant to say I was "church of Christ" because of even more baggage!

    By the way, Barclay says when believers were first called Christians, it was a slur, not a compliment. Maybe we're replaying history??

  6. James Jones says:

    Yes, we do have an image problem. It is not due to what people always see at a church building either. A lot of it can come from the daily interaction with Christians. How they talk about politics, people, and church themselves. It is a far cry from the behavior of love Paul addresses in Ephesians 4 & 5. The way several Christians talk about politics and people on welfare is huge. Also, the way Christians have appeared so trigger happy and war hungry is overwhelming.

    I am blessed to have many Christians in my life like this. However, before I becamse a Christian, I saw a ton of mixed signals growing up in Florida. It was a handful of people I knew in school and my neighborhood that helped me not blame all Christians for the problems I had with church.

    When I was 16, I moved to Alabama to live with my dad. When my dad was registering me for classes, the guidance counsellor informed me that I now lived in the Bible belt, and it was inappropriate for me to not have my shirt tucked in. I was shocked. When I tucked my shirt in, she informed me that I needed to wear a belt before I could come back to school. She was the epitome of Cinderella's stepmother.
    That same week at a pep rally, the cheerleaders came out doing a cheer called the gigalo, shaking their backsides up in the air repeatedly.

    As a teen male, I have to admit I did not mind them doing it. But, I was really confused about the Bible belt mentality.

    Anyway, I cant wait to read your thoughts on this subject over the next few days.

  7. James Jones says:

    I also want to add that I chose not to invite to Bible camp the children of people I knew that were homosexual and infected with HIV. I had heard enough Christians at Bible camp make so many off handed comments about the "nasty gays" that I did not want these children that really needed hope to get that idea of the church.

    I was at a lectureship about 5 years ago, and one of the subjects was on homosexuality. I was going to order the cd to give to a friend of mine. The first five minutes of the lecture was spent mocking the gay lifestyle, making sneering remarks, inciting laughter from the audience over and over again.

    I knew I could not send that cd to my friend. I wonder how many people may NOT invite their homosexual friends and coworkers to worship because of behavior like that?

    I will get off my soapbox.

    Thank you, Trey, for posting this.

  8. Angie says:

    Just read Mike Copes post. Probably shouldn't have done that. I could have written anyone of those…maybe all of them. There is so much I'd love to say, but I'd start crying…heck I AM crying…bawling like a baby staring at my PC. What the heck…here goes. Sensor if you must, b/c it ain't pretty.

    We think because we don't see, choose not to see, haven't seen, haven't experienced, that what Jesus promised US (yes US, not just a bunch of groupies from the first century) is not for us. We are so blind and stupid and have totally missed the entire point because we are hung up on a bunch of BS about a God that Jesus himself tried to tell us wasn't who those legalistic ^$$#@!&$ insisted he was. We talk about prayer and communion like we are the sacred keepers of those practices and no one else can do them right. Heck, we don't even know what those things ARE. We have no idea how to experience communion with the Divine. We know how to sip juice and break off some cracker with our heads bowed. That's all we know…or all I knew.

    We are convinced that every last word of the Bible is God-breathed and has been somehow sacredly protected from the arrogance and power-hungriness of a religion whose sole purpose over the centuries has been to keep its followers in bondage so the finances remain intact… A Bible that has been subject to the interpretations of scribes who feared their leaders or were influenced by the social norms of the times. I could rant on this one some more…how much time do you have?

    Maybe if we would spend some more time learning about other world religions (funny thing is, they use the Bible as much as we do)instead of isolating ourselves to prevent contamination, trying to kill their followers, or convert them to our screwed up way of doing things, we might find out that all of Jesus' promises are very much alive and available to us today. We might actually get it. We might find that there have been many through the ages who healed the sick, raised the dead, and transfigured in front of others.

    Maybe, just maybe if we would pull our heads out of wherever they've chosen to stuff themselves, and actually SEE JESUS for who he was and what he said and did, we would realize just how badly we have missed his boat. We could experience love and peace instead of hate and war. We could become one body instead of 365,987 different brands of the One True Way. THAT is what has so turned my stomach against "The Church"…any church.

    Yes, Jesus is awesome, He has some wonderful people who follow him that I am blessed to know, many right here in my home town.

    I want to be like him. But my use for "The Church" (again, any church)as I see it in its various flavors and forms has crumbled into a pile of ashes to be swept out with the garbage. I am tired of the nitpicky, double-standard, "yes this applies, but no doesn't" junk, so I have walked away….not from my savior, not from the Creator, not from my faith, but from the burden of carrying around guilt and baggage that others insist must be a part of this thing called Christianity.

    Good luck. It's an unpopular stance and a lonely road in these parts.

    Now I must go find my nice girl pills.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We are (Church of Christ) WAY too critical if those who do not believe the same as we do. We sit in the corner and judge others who are trying to help our communities and strive to be like Christ, yet we do nothing. To be honest this is turning me off of the church and is very frustrating. We don't look for teaching opportunities, instead we look for reasons not to get involved in. My opinions as well will get me in trouble, oh well.
    Matt Howell

  10. Adam Gonnerman says:

    Christians of all stripes are lumped together by non-Christians. Thus those of us who aren't Catholics can take heat for what's going on with pedophiliac priests. Removing that doesn't even help though. When we have folks showing up at "tea parties" and spewing often irrational hatred, using their faith and belief in a "Christian nation" as justification, we have problems.

    I know I'm going to get bashed for what I just wrote. It's inevitable and I don't look forward to it.

    At the same time, in such a context those of us willing to look from a more positive perspective, trusting that our God is sovereign, Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit is with us and the Good News is powerful are able to stand out more clearly.

    An example would be a recent Christians and Homosexuality seminar that the Central Jersey Church of Christ helped to sponsor at Rutgers University. A guest speaker was brought in who is an "ex-homosexual." People came to disrupt him and disagree but ended up not doing so. He opened his talk by apologizing for what homosexuals have suffered from the words and deeds of people who say they follow Christ. In his talk he explained how he left homosexuality behind and started a family, but still struggles. He put a kind human face on Christian teaching about homosexuality. People who attended said some of those who intended to cause problems went up to the speaker afterward and thanked him.

    It's very tempting to try to depend on our own strength to confront error and sin, rather that trust that the way Jesus showed us is always best. So very tempting.

  11. Peter P says:

    I could rant about this for a while but the simplest thing to do is look at Jesus.

    Jesus loved the 'sinners' and attacked the 'religious' people.

    He let a woman of very questionable morality and lifestyle wash his feet and called the religious leaders such gentle names as "a brood of vipers" and "sons of hell".

    Why do we do it the opposite way around?

  12. Steve says:

    I haven't read the book Trey mentioned, but I have witnessed and experienced the uncomfortable realization that the church that exists today is not the church that it is supposed to be. We have failed to be Christ-like. And the world is now calling us to account. Their criticism is not unfair or unjust – it is real. And it is time for the church to wrestle with the issues we have ignored and start loving the people that Jesus loves. Until each individual Christ-follower renews their relationship with Christ and begins to live Christ, we will continue to deserve the criticism we are receiving.
    My seven year old son made the following statement one Sunday morning last fall: "Church is exactly like school, except you have to wear a button-up shirt." That's as harsh a criticism as those who say we are anti-________.
    It is because of the discontent among those who follow Christ that I find great hope in the future of the church. It is because my son challenges my status quo religion that I look forward to a changing church that makes a difference in the world. It is because of the tears and fears of those who wrestle with their religion and their faith that I see the kingdom of God growing with power in the very near future.

  13. Angie says:

    Can't leave it alone….

    People today are searching for the Jesus of Bible, and we cannot find him. We are looking for the miracle-producing, life-changing, experience, and taking a bath in public then following a strict set of rules isn't doing it for us. It isn't enough for us to be told about him. We want the experience of him. We want the upper room, tongues of fire, walk on water relationship, not a mandatory 3x weekly history class where men rule the world. There are church groups that attempted to provide that experience and which grew like wildfire for a long time, until we figured out that they had nothing more to offer and many of the same (or worse) rules as those from which we had already walked away.

    I can believe all day long, but belief isn't the same as experience. It can't substitute. It isn't enough anymore. Head knowledge is a poor substitute for relationship. Until the Christianity finds a way to bring Jesus to life, the Christian church will continue to be irrelevant and eastern religions that teach meditation, peace, spirituality, and communion with the Divine will continue to fill that void in beautiful ways.

    My apologies for again hi-jacking your blog. Like I said….I have opinions.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Trey and I frequent the same blogs apparently. I discussed this last night in a group discussion. One of the most telling comment on Mike's sight was when he said at the end that he wanted to say wait we arne't all like that. He's right we aren't all like that. We all need to do what Mike concluded with. We need to listen and learn. Why are the teenagers leaveing? We better find out and do something about it! Angie I have been guilty of teaching history lessons in church. I was very good at it. I pray I never teach another history lesson with out a relevant application again. I ask forgiveness from those that sat through my history lessons and did't learn anything that helped them in their daily life or drew them closer to God.

  15. TREY MORGAN says:

    Excellent comments …

    So, what's the answer?

  16. Steve says:

    THE answer? I don't think THE answer can be written down. Doing so would just lead to more arguments and debates, more teaching and more studying and more thinking and more sitting around not doing the things we are supposed to be doing while the world continues to receive validation that their view of Christianity is correct – we are much less than what we say.

    For me, the answer is to realize how much God has loved me (Luke 7:47). When I get those glimpses of his incredible love, I find that I am able to love others. But to love others, I must be around others…all sorts of others. I must be willing to serve my neighbor, to stop and talk, to see a need and work to fill that need, to see Jesus in them and then serve them as if they were Jesus.
    Since I know me, I know that I am not capable of doing that alone. I need others to come alongside me and do the same. I need brothers and sisters whom I can encourage and who encourage me, whom I can inspire and who inspire me. I need them to see me struggle and have them help me up. I need the church and the church needs me. As flawed and un-Christian as we may be, we need each other. And it is only through learning to leave the pew and begin working together that we will discover what all of our centuries of studying, arguing, debating, and thinking have failed to illuminate – that Christianity is learned by experience not osmosis.
    That's THE answer that I hope to discover…

  17. L Lane says:

    Trey…I think that most people look at others a little harder than they do themselves. My walk with the Lord is different than for someone else. Sometimes I get caught up in what does the "Christian" look like? To be honest I do not know. I do not know someone else's struggles and personal difficulties for most people. I also do not know other peoples heart. God is the only one that knows that for sure.

    I have learned that My walk with Jesus is my walk. Not his,hers, or anyone else's. Reading about Jesus in the Bible, and prayer, are the communication I need to follow Jesus, not necessarily what a "Christian" is supposed to look like. Young people need to hear that message more in my opinion.

    I normally just read but wanted to put my 2 bits worth in.

  18. Angie says:

    The answer isn't neat and tidy. Jesus didn't try to fix the existing paradigm of the day. It didn't want to be fixed. Jesus introduced a whole new way of looking at and communing with God…and they killed him for it. I wanted to fix what i saw as broken. God didn't allow it. He took me out before i could destroy a group of people. He didn't take away my desire to be a part of the shift, but fixing the existing apparently isn't part of the plan…at least not for me. He brings to me those who need to hear me and those to whom i need to listen, just as Jesus did with his apostles. Individuals can soften and change. Institutions cannot or will not.

  19. says:

    Great conversation… I gave you cred, Trey, for the post, and posted a video response here:

  20. Terry says:

    I'm not sure how to define the answer. However, I think it may involve trusting Jesus while trying to follow him closely in attitude and in action. Ultimately, our goal is not to make ourselves look good. It's to glorify God by presenting him as accurately as possible to the world around us.

  21. Robin says:

    I bought this book about a year and a half ago and still haven't finished it – not because I don't want to, but because it's so convicting that I have to stop for a while, then I forget what I read and have to start over. To try to answer your question, Trey, this is what I have so far: Study the Word more (not just read for pleasure, but learn and understand what it says), dig into the compassion of Jesus like never before, and pray for the strength, patience, humility, and wisdom to do those things for God's glory. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. That's exactly what we have to do. Treat people the way Jesus would. That's my 2 cents worth. :)

    Thanks for the post and the thoughts, Trey. Keep up the great work!

  22. Gary says:

    As members of the "Bride of Christ", he picked us. We may not always like others' attitudes and opinions, but we should concentrate on our own growth and spiritual maturity. When we say that others "don't get it", it is usually to ourselves that could we should examine.

  23. Lori @ Shine Like Stars says:

    The quote mentioned by Brian is from Brennan Manning. I actually used it in a ladies' day lesson on ROSE – Reflecting Our Savior's Example which was last Saturday in Waynoka, OK. Very true quote, unfortunately.

  24. Rick Morgan says:

    It is interesting to note that the core group of Jesus followers, the 12 that "knew" him the best, didn't look very different from the "Christ followers" that so many of you are complaining about.

    Jesus disciples walked with him everyday and heard more teaching in intimate settings away from the crowds and yet they were selfish, power hungry, disobedient and faithless, just to name a few.

    Our Bible is filled with ordinary bone heads that God used despite their character flaws.

  25. Kim says:

    Matt 22: 36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.

    L1 – Love God
    L2 – Love Others

    I have struggled with the corporate church's attitude towards many things over the years. I have been very angry at times and I have been very sad at times. But it still all comes down to following L1, L2. If I love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind and love my neighbor as myself, the world will see Jesus in my life.

    I will be the first to admit I don't fully understand why such broken vessels have been chosen by God to be the church. But the truth is we have been and even when we don't agree with everything, at the end of the day we are it. We are the church. We have been placed where we are, at the time we have been placed to glorify Him. So, everyday I begin by asking God to help me to POUR MYSELF out, to be totally surrendered and filled with Him. Then I can go out into the world and have some chance of living in a way that allows a broken world to see the Savior who died for them. And that means that I love the person that God created regardless of where they are at in their journey. Hopefully others see that it is not the building I worship in on Sunday or the name on the sign in front of that building that matters in my life. I hope the people God connects me to everyday can see that I genuinely love them, right where there are, exactly how they are. Because only if they can see that in my life will they ever want to believe that the Jesus who loves me and died for me also loves them and died for them.

  26. westcoastwitness says:

    Good book, though the chapter entitled "Too Political" is a bit dated now, and the exegesis of the biblical passages in the "Too Judgmental" chapter is fairly poor.

    I've read this several times, and am just finishing up walking another class through it.

  27. Sharla says:

    We, as Christians, can be ANTI-SIN, but are also committed to being PRO-"SINNERS" – meaning – "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Lk 19:10

  28. eastern ky pastor says:

    It easier to be critical of other Christians, than it is to first address our own sinfulness. That's where the answer is; "Lord bring us revival, and let it begin in me."

    When the world sees our humility and our willingness to help people of all kinds and ethnos, they will see Christ.

    Secondly, we must also address our eagerness to look for answers in another program or an author's suggestions. When i look at the New Testament Church as demonstrated in Acts, i see people who are relying upon the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than the prevailing or popular ideas of the day.

    Trey, thank you for openning the conversation. May i also suggest the book Why We're Not Emergent? Also a very good read!

  29. Anonymous says:

    I have been reading some great books that address many of these things. Pagan Christianity by Barna (?) and the current one I am reading is "A New kind of Christian" by McLaren. Both books are hitting me hard, but convincing me there must be a better way. Paraphrasing the second book, but one quote was "people aren't giving up on Jesus, they are giving up on Christianity". I recommend both these books, but warning, they hit you and can hit you hard. I find myself in this no man's land. Knowing there must be a better way, but not sure how to get there

  30. Dan Beals says:

    "Dear God, please help us become more like your Son Jesus. Lord, I hear a lot of people giving there opinions on every little thing… on how to live a proper life, on how to be a good Christian, on what the world needs. I hear all this talk, all these books, all these TV sermons, all these people preaching….

    Lord I hear so much, but I see so little in my own life. I pray that I will be more receptive to "YOUR WORD" and "YOUR SPIRIT" that will guide me through my life. Yes, Lord I know that people are there to help, but ultimately its YOU who I want to guide me, it's YOU I want to convict me and its YOU who I want to heal these sinful wounds.

    Lord I love you from the bottom of my heart. I pray that my life can be more pleasing to you….. THROUGH MY ACTIONS. Lord allow me to practice what I preach… to not judge, but to love the sinner… You will convict them Lord, not me. Its only my job to love the lost and to pray for them. Lord I pray that we all come together as one body of Christ….. ONE GENUINE BODY OF CHRIST THAT WANTS TO LOVE YOU AND OTHERS LIKE WE NEVER HAVE BEFORE!!!!


  31. TREY MORGAN says:

    Dan … thanks for your prayer.

  32. Dante says:


    Pure Religion is defined in James 1:27

    A Christian's walk can be judged by his/her (their Ministries' Fruit) found in Galatians 5 (and then read Galatians 6 for edification

    God is a Holy God and no matter how we spin the idea of sin, we have to read: Romans 12, Colossians 3 and Hebrews 12 to understand that God is a Holy God and no matter how tolerant we should be, we have to put off the old self and allow the Holy Spirit the freedom to sanctify our bodies (our temples) in our new self.

    Here is where "Christians", who we will define as those who profess Christ as savior, make the mistake in judging others. Jesus was very careful to tell us in Mathew not to judge others unless we deem to be judged by the same standard of hypocrisy. The real problem with this knock on Christianity is this – we sometimes forget to truly be the church (refer back to James 1:27 for guidance). Jesus said to his disciples (those who profess his name) that He is the child and person who needed help. The ones who we help and care for and love.

    Sin is sin no matter how the "world" spins it. We do not have to accept the sin, but we do have to love the sinner. If we would truly love them and feed them (the Word and prayer) and scatter the seed, God would take care of the rest.

    Holiness never means lowering Christ's standards to meet the worlds acceptance. Rather it means consistently sharpening our lives with the Word of God and praying continually in order to let the "light" that Jesus calls us to shine change the World.

    Just my opinion, Trey.

  33. Colton says:

    I think a lot of the problems are that we have the wrong perception of what church is supposed to be. So many of us are inviting our unbelieving friends and family to church so that Pastor can witness to them.

    That is not what the church is supposed to be.

    The church should be a safehouse where believers worship together. We should be witnessing and spreading the gospel to everyone all the time where we see them. Not bringing them into the church where they bring all of their immoralities with them. Paul talkes about us asking our brothers will not turn from their sin to leave the church and we Americans ask all the unsaved to enter it.

    I think a lot of the problems ya'll are all talking about would be a mute point if we corrected our view of what the church is supposed to be.

    Feel free to disagree with me at

  34. nick gill says:

    Holiness comes from God, and it means God made us different.

    In a world that devours its young, Christians protect the helpless.

    In a world that hollows out the word god and fills it with whatever garbage pours out of the TV, Christians hallow His name – we wear his name with joy and compassion and humility.

    In a world where "I" rule myself, or else an assortment of powers and deities and celebrities rule, Christians pray that God hurries up and makes the world just the way He always dreamed it would be.

    In a world where people devour each other for MORE-MORE-MORE, Christians rejoice that they can depend on God for their daily bread and give away whatever else comes our way.

    In a world where people's hearts are being savagely shredded by guilt, Christians forgive. Christians ask for forgiveness. Christians open the gate to the forgiveness of God. Most homosexuals know what we believe about their lifestyle. What they don't know, because we don't live it worth a damn, is that "hate the sin, love the sinner" is utterly backwards. They are created in the image of God and desperately need to see from our mouths and eyes and hands and feet how deeply God loves them.

    In a world deluded by the powers to believe that things will go on just as they are, or that we're progressing towards some great point of evolutionary transformation… Christians are realists. We know evil is real – and we fight it with the only power that matters – selfsacrificial love and truth intertwined and inseparable. We know tribulation and testing is real. New Creation is coming, and the world is white unto harvest.

    "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen."

  35. Doug Young says:

    There is an image problem all right, but the only ones who tend to see it are the ones who engage the world as we know it. Those who just want to sit in the "holy huddle" and remain oblivious to what is going on, often, can't see what's going on. We have to be people who can respectfully engage the world to understand it. I've found that many deny or discredit the claims made about how the Church is perceived, simply because they aren't willing to listen to anybody respectfully.

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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Husband, father and cancer survivor & Senior Minister for the Childress Church of Christ. Tweets about life, marriage, Texas Rangers and randomness.
  • good list. Don't forget Nickelback, OJ, ISIS and beer-throwing Blue Jay fans.
  • He was pretty tough to listen to as well.
  • As crazy as it might sound, Chris Collinsworth just might be worse to listen to than the song Christmas Shoes.
  • Please remember that some Christmas music is incredibly offensive to people with grandmothers who actually were run over by reindeer.
  • Unfortunately, not a great night for "bobcats." :)

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