The Growing Divide Between The Church And Culture

Is there a growing divide between the church and culture? Is the distance perceived or factual? 

Here is a great quote from the David Kinnaman book, UnChristian. Since coming out several years ago, the text has inspired me to consider a few perceptions that our culture has formed about the church. Whether we have helped shape these perceptions or if these perceptions have been created by the un-churched culture, we have a problem. The church has lost authority and integrity in a time when it is most needed. 

Here is a quote from the book and a few thoughts to get us thinking.

“At first, I took on the project because I felt we would learn how Christians could connect more effectively with people outside the faith. If we understood outsiders’ objections, I reasoned, perhaps we could better connect with them. But what we found was their perceptions are more than superficial image problems.” – Kinnaman, Page 14

I am not a fan of the word 'outsiders'. But, Kinnaman simply uses the term to delineate from churched and un-churched. What is the image of the church in the eyes of this generation? Our mindsets will vary on this topic depending on many factors:

-A person who was raised in a healthy church will think differently from a person who was raised in an unhealthy church
-The person who has experienced mature Christians and the person who has been in relationship with hypocrites will also have differing viewpoints on this matter
-People who have been hurt by the church will be quick to build a negative view of the church, even knowing that the church is not perfect
-I have even seen personality types affect the way we perceive this topic (for example, critical people will have little optimism or even patience for the problems in the church)

Try and take a step back from your personal worldview of the church and evaluate the relationship of the church to culture. Let's talk. Here are 4 talking points on the American church that I have paraphrased from the book:

1.       COMPASSION – Are we lacking compassion for people and for conditions in the world. What about true zeal/action?

2.       IGNORANCE – Has our lack of understanding the culture and world around us caused poor contextualization of the gospel in the church?
3.       DISSATISFACTION – We may be aware of the issues and problems within the church, but, are we willing to do anything about our dissatisfaction?
4.       AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY – Have we become such a melting pot of ideas (pluralism) that we have lost our distinctiveness and biblical DNA to tolerance?


  1. In response to the talking point reflecting on Compassion, I have a few things in which I have watched happen. First, there are many "Christians" that I have met who are very into helping people when it is convenient for them. I myself use to be this way very much so and people, especially youth, cannot be treated as a "side project". Jesus did not go on his own time he went on his Fathers which is what I think we should all do daily; die daily to ourselves and live daily to His plans. Youth group is an incredible thing, but if we are just putting in the hours to make ourselves feel better or look better, compassion has no existence. I believe that pride and selfishness are the root of not showing compassion. How many people do you know that would love to help others but are "too busy". If they had true compassion, they would make helping others be their busy. If we do not go to the throne room of Jesus Christ DAILY and receive his heart for the world around us, true compassion will cease to exist and faith along with that will also begin to dissipate.

    -Kayla Wiese

  2. In churches today, especially in ones I have been a part of, I see the dissatisfaction that leaders have for the status quo, but they are complacent and do nothing about it. I remember one time hearing a youth pastor talk about going hard after what God wants in our lives, refusing to be stuck in a spiritual rut. He wanted God to start a flame in that youth group and spread through our neighborhood. Weeks and months had passed and nothing happened in that youth group. Even though that pastor was dissatisfied with the spiritual rut that his youth group was going through, he was okay and complacent to not go hard after whatever God had laid on his heart. This is also an example of a lack of compassion! It takes guts to take a timeout from the routine of youth group and say, not just to yourself, to those you are leading "We are here, but God is leading us to this place!" It is hard to admit you have been wrong, but it is right. If a leader really, truly loves his/her youth, they will do what's right!!

    ><> Luke Temte

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  4. Point by point,
    As for compassion: I would tend to believe that the church lacks no amount of compassion for the many cares and needs around the world, but first I feel that we need decide how we define compassion. For, if compassion is simply the sentiment with lack of any action then we are compassionate in flying colors, but if compassion is also marked by the steps being taken in order to alleviate the need, then I would give the church a giant F.

    As for ignorance, I feel that self-deceit might be a better descriptor for the problem that we have. We have so caught ourselves up in our little "God-bubbles" that we have disregarded the rest of God's creation. We feel that we are God's only creation... and then the World. Not only do we see ourselves as the Body of Christ, but also as Christ Himself. We need not apply to culture, for we are the "way things ought to be."

    (I need to stop NOW!)

    -Joshua Pascoe

  5. I think it's American Christianity and Tolerance is a great talking point. America has so many issues and struggles, and the church, in order to look nice and friendly to every person, has watered down the rules and commandments set for us by God. I think of the denominations that allow homosexual ministers, and of the pastors that preach universalism. God doesn't want His principles and commandments to be softened down in order for people to come to him. He wants his love to draw people in to living the right way, the way that he commanded.

    -Emily Rustad

  6. Being a member of the church, and more importantly being a Christian, has blinded me (not completely, but enough) of the bad reputation that Christians get by the rest of society. It is easy to understand where and how others outside the faith can get such a bad representation of us as Christians. Even as a Christian I am aware that Christians have hurt the name of Christ through their misguided words and actions. By speaking out in harsh tones, and “reaching out” with condemning-hell stricken words, giving those outside the faith little reason to seek the church.
    Unchristian is going to be very beneficial for Christians who are looking to reach out to a world that isn't really looking for a helping hand!


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