Young Outsiders Journey Often Starts Inside The Church

Two weeks ago I was invited to host one of my Outsider Interviews at the Q Place Conference just outside Chicago. I have done many of these interviews for almost fifteen years but I never get tired of hearing people’s stories about what the church looks like through the eyes of an Outsider. I purposely use this terminology to help Christians feel the gulf we’ve created between ourselves and the people Jesus misses most.

According to my good friend David Kinnaman in his new book You Lost Me, more and more of these Outsiders actually begin their journey inside the church. That was certainly the case at Q Place. The three young women I interviewed had been raised in a Christian Church and yet when I asked them if today any of them believed Jesus was God they each answered with certainty – No!

On the whole I don’t think Christians actually care that much about Non Christians. They’ve simply not been given a compelling or authentic way to connect with their Non Christian friends. What I am certain of is that when their child becomes a Non Christian they suddenly find a way to start caring. That’s what I learned at Q Place.

8 thoughts on “Young Outsiders Journey Often Starts Inside The Church

  1. The question, then, is how do you find a way to start caring BEFORE your child gets to the point of becoming a Non Christian?

  2. You’re so right, Jim! Most of my Christian friends have no idea how to hang out with Outsiders, and the more entrenched in the Christian subculture I become, the less in common I feel I have with my Outsider friends. It’s a hard gap to bridge when the world becomes more foreign to you, and your “non-Christian” friends along with it. And yet, I think — it’s my fault for not having truly contiued to invest in those relationships, if only because it’s easier to hang out with friends who hold the same values I do.

    What’s worse is that, in my experience, people who grew up in the church and remained there often have literally no idea how to relate to Outsiders. I think this is because the have been so insulated by that same Christian subculture that they rarely make or keep Outsiders in close relationships. What a difficult commentary on the sad insularity of a church in the age of global interconnectivity.

    Lastly, your comment about the children of Christians brings pop star Katy Perry directly to mind. It seems her parents inadvertantly indoctrinated her right out of their grasp. She reminds me of everything I used to be. I often think that had I known truly caring and loving followers of Jesus like you, back when I was in those out-of-control years, I might not have had a decade of regrets to live with.

    Thanks for being a courageous, unrelenting Voice for the Outsiders.

  3. Ethan

    A good place to get some ideas that might answer your question is David Kinnamans new book – You Lost me

  4. Meagan

    Your comment per Katy Perrys parents is insightful. All in all followers of Jesus need to be good human beings- then you dont have to remember anything or worry about programs. We need to be the most real people on the planet

  5. Jim, as a Jewish parent I respect your willingness to dialogue with non-Christians. It’s a refreshing change from the momologues I typically find myself in when confronted by Evangelicals. However I find it ironic that these parents are likely the same Christians espousing family values & their right to raise their children according to their Christian values all the while supporting, and likely engaging in the active evangilizing of my underage Jewish children, thereby showing no regard for my right as Jewish parent to raise my children as I see fit. It appears to this “Outsider” that their respect for family values ends at THEIR doorpost.

  6. Edward

    Thanks for your comment. How did you run into our work? I agree, because Evangelicalism is currently (and I do mean only currently) the “civil religion” de rigeur in America. We/they have become accustomed to “having it both ways” This will pass and we will become a better movement again (hopefully) . You might be encouraged by reading The New Evangelicals by Marcia Pally

  7. Jim,
    Thank you for your response. As a parent, I only request others honor the Golden Rule, as I try to do in my interactions with others. I don’t believe that’s an unreasonable request. As to how I ran into your work; ironically, it was through a Google search of Christian converts to Judaism. Given that non-Jews are only obligated to keep the Noahide Laws and not all 613 commandments, I’m curious as to why someone would choose to convert, thereby obligating themselves to keep the whole of the Law.

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