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unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  8,250 ratings  ·  508 reviews

David Kinnaman is president of The Barna Group, which provides research and resources that facilitate spiritual transformation in people's lives. Since joining Barna in 1995, David has designed and analyzed nearly five hundred studies for a variety of churches, nonprofits, and corporations. He and George Barna write a free research report published online at

Hardcover, 255 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Baker Books
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Mar 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who really understand how social research and statistics work.
I dunno, dawg, this book was all over the place for me--to coin a Randy Jackson-ism. I wasn't really feelin' it toward the end, and it got a little pitchy in the middle, around the whole homosexuality part. I dunno. Paula?

There! Now I am HIP and WITH IT! and MEDIA SAVVY! and CREATIVE! and TUNED IN! Maybe now "outsiders" my age will be drawn to the Christian faith as though by a magnet!

Alas it's not so simple, and I would caution anyone from taking the research or conclusions in this book as defi
May 04, 2008 rated it liked it
I picked up this book on a whim and almost tossed it aside when I realized it wasn't going to be about what I thought it was going to be about. But something made me read the first sentence - "Christianity has an image problem" - and that surely caught my attention.

The book is written by an evangelical Christian and has several sections of text written by active Christians. The discussion primarily centers around research conducted over a three year period dissecting views of Christians/Christi
Jan 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Oooh.... Shocking..........

Non-Christians have negative views of Christians!!!!! We're not the majority!!!! Ahhhhh!!!!!

Oh yeah. I almost forgot. That's what I think about American Evangelicals, too.

Seriously, this book is a good wake-up call for Christians to stop majoring in the minors and actually start living in a way worthy to be called Christian.

I like the fact that with every negative attitude, there is a positive response or way out of the present predicament. It's not only tearing things
Feb 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bagger by: Wally
Shelves: nonfiction, to-buy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M Christopher
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ministerial
Once again, I've found a book about which I have deeply divided feelings. The research done by the Barna Institute about the attitudes of Busters and Millennials toward the Church is deeply important. The fact that so many of the next generations see Christians as having abandoned the teachings of Jesus is disturbing and that they presume that all Christians are out-of-touch, hypocritical, homophobic and mean-spirited is even more so. The chapters that disclose these attitudes are an important r ...more
David Eiffert
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
"Arrogance is perhaps the most socially acceptable form of sin in the church today. ... We don't see it, but outsiders can sense it."

This book wasn't written TO me. It was written ABOUT me.
As a Christian Pastor who tends to agree with Christianity's critics more than the two cheerleaders, I found myself saying "yeah, no duh" a little too often. I felt like I could have recited this book from memory without having read it. Because of that, it felt a little flat.
I guess reading your own biograph
Sep 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a book about Christianity in America today. The authors opinions have been formed by research, not vague feelings or hunches. I would recommend this book to Christians first, then anyone else interested in american sub-cultures and their perceptions of other groups and vice versa. The research findings in this book are a solid reminder that Jesus is recored as saying that the whole law and prophets hang on and point to the principle of loving God and other people. If you don't do those ...more
Oct 18, 2008 rated it did not like it
I pretty much figured that this book was going to be yet another review of the issues that non-Christians have with Christians. Not a shocking read - most of it just recaps all the reasons I'd left the church in the first place - because it comes off as hypocritical, judgmental, obnoxious, and completely intolerant of any view other than it's own - *even just for discussion*. What bothered me the most about this book though was how dry it was! It was like reading the research papers my classmate ...more
Steph Jones
Dec 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: born-again Christians eager to enact change in their churches
Shelves: christian-living
This book challenged me, ruffled my feathers, and inspired me. But, unfortunately, I wasn't all that surprised by the perceptions of Christians that were expressed. In fact, I found myself agreeing with the "outsiders" viewpoints, a lot.
The biggest challenge put to me, I think, was the reminder that Christians don't have to like or agree with those perceptions - there were other times I found myself disagreeing with the perception or saying things like "but that's just because you don't know whe
Ko Matsuo
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kinnaman's book shines a light onto the state of evangelicals in the US. The book was written in 2007 after 3 years of research. It reads like a prophetic message to evangelicals many of whom ignored his message when it was written.

I'm dismayed at the number of negative comments I have read about this book. The Christian church in the 21st century is highly prejudiced and closed minded but doesn't want to admit that it is. This attitude was not justifiable when America was a Christian majority,
Eric Thompson
It's been said that if someone offers you a mint you should in no wise refuse. The gesture may be communicating a valuable piece of information of which you have been previously unaware. Your breath may smell like rotting garbage on a hot day, but if it weren't for this one unpleasant fact, the person offering help really wouldn't mind your company. In fact, they might even enjoy it. Take the hint and suck on the TicTac. Otherwise, you might find scarce the number of people willing to be close t ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
It's truly incredible how accurately the author's research felt the pulse of the public's reaction to toxic Christianity and proceeded to recommend a slightly more 'friendly' version of the same toxic theology.

The author accurately assessed that the public, especially young adults, view Christianity as hypocritical, conversion-obsessed, anti-gay, sheltered, extremely political, and judgemental. Instead of renouncing the theologies and beliefs that led to this, repenting and asking the public fo
Brian Eshleman
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
The authors willing to ask the hard questions to see how Christians are seen by those around them. He is willing to seek empirical data to pierce assumptions and inbreeding cultural consensus. What he finds is certainly not flattering to any Christian's sense of effectiveness, and his findings give ample ground for repentance. He presents information that shows Christians perceived as little different morally than their non-Christian neighbors and yet taking an inflated sense of pride in their s ...more
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
At first, this book was a real page turner, and unfortunately, the more I read, the more I feared turning the page. I felt like the author had betrayed the seemingly implied promise of religious reform. I was hoping for a progressive point-of-view, and instead of challenging the church to reform, he challenges the church to be less off-putting and more tolerant. These are nice goals, but I expected more. I was disappointed to discover that the author, just like the "unchristians" he targets, int ...more
Dennis Henn
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Why have so many of those 18-29 checked out of church? Why do so many negative Christian stereotypes abound among this generation, even among those who profess belief? With statistics and interviews, Kinnaman seeks to answer those questions. Insightful, the findings reinforced many complaints I have voiced about Evangelicalism. We are not viewed as authentic, as compassionate, as real followers of a biblical Jesus. We are seen as judgmental, as coopted and corrupted by politics, and as hypocrite ...more
David Gower
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it

Important topics, but for one who agrees with a more open church it is a bit like beating a dead horse. I supposed some people still really need that poor horse to suffer though.
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Oh my goodness, where do I start and what do I say? Hmmm. Perhaps I can be most generous by suggesting that this book, David Kinnaman's unChristian is Dickensian in the sense that it represents the best of times (some very good things) and the worst of times (many very bad ones). If I'm less charitable, I could say that it's alternatingly awesome and awful, piercingly insightful and stunningly blind, inspiringly Spirit-filled and depressingly and offputtingly spiritually tone-deaf, etc. In sum, ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent. This book provides research done on what the world thinks of Christians. The research is from 2007; however from my experience I think it is as true now as it was then. Ten years ago, when I was 15, these surveys were of those the ages of 16-29 years old. What a blessing to read the opinions of people in my own generation of me.

The data showed trends of how Christians are viewed, and a chapter is given to each (hypocritical, obsessed with quantity of conversions, antihomosexual, shel
Caroline Brewer
Dec 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book is presented as an attempt to bring the American Christian Church to understand the criticisms and rejections that they are faced with. The book claims that it is trying to help the Christian community face their problems, mistakes, and hypocritical flaws in order to survive, and in fact flourish, in the coming generations.

Before I explain why I thought this book was awful, I should give some background as to who I am so that my perspective is at least fair.

The book claims to analyze t
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
UN christian
By David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007
256 pages

I would rank this book among the five most important books I have read in the past ten years. I cannot stop thinking about the implications of it. The authors compel me to re-examine my life in light of God’s word and the proposals in the pages of UN christian.

David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, uses survey data to show us what American Christianity looks like to those who are outside our churches.
Maggie Boyd
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
unChristian examines data collected over three years of what outsiders think of the Christian church and as such is a helpful tool in determining what people believe regarding the current faith culture and how we should respond to their beliefs.

The back cover tells us that "Christianity has an image problem", within the pages we learn that problem primarily consists of being seen by those on the outside as anti-homosexual, judgmental, and hypocritical. Other issues included being seen as old-fa
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a very uncomfortable book that discusses the perceptions that Christians have of themselves, as well as how society perceives Christians. For any number of reasons, a complex and beautiful faith has been reduced to a slate of 4 or 5 stereotypes, e.g. overly political/judgmental/antigay/sheltered/hypocritical. But Unchristian is an important contribution to the current dialogue on the state of the church and its relationship to young believers, addressing issues similar to the Atlantic's ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Victoria by: Brooke Mackey
Shelves: christianity
I read unChristian at the recommendation of a friend. We were reading a book called God Space at the request of our church, and many of the themes of that book are reiterated at greater length in this one.

UnChristian focuses on data collected by the Barnum Group, which to my understanding collects statistical data on various groups of people for to aid churches. The book focuses on the beliefs of individuals between the ages of 16-29, particularly the way that non-Christian individuals in that a
Alexea Hankin
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book convicted me—it made me weep for the status of the modern day church. It reminded me why I wasn't a Christian for so long, and somehow, impossibly, why I am one today. And then it gave me a whole lotta hope for the church of my future decades.

Anecdotally, I come from what Kinnaman would call a nonChurched background—I picked up my faith in high school, and it lit fire completely as I grew in college, where I'm at now. I am, by all marks, an "evangelical Biblical fundamentalist" (fancy
Rev. Linda
A text for an "Evangelism" Workshop--- From the Publisher: David Kinnaman is president of The Barna Group, which provides research and resources that facilitate spiritual transformation in people's lives. Since joining Barna in 1995, David has designed and analyzed nearly five hundred studies for a variety of churches, nonprofits, and corporations. The New Testament writer Paul told the first-century Christians: "You yourselves are our letter . . . known and read by everybody."When a person "re ...more
Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a pretty tough book. There are a lot of hard things here that no Christian wants to hear. I didn't agree with everything, but there was a lot here to make you think. The chart on pg. 53 particularly disturbed me. The moral compass in this country is quickly disappearing and that scares me half to death! I think the important thing to remember when reading this book is that perception does not equal reality. Just because that's the way someone feels, doesn't mean they are right. I'd rathe ...more
Katherine Harms
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You may hate what "UnChristian" has to say.

"UnChristian" focuses on the way non-Christians perceive Christianity, Christians, and churches. It certainly touches on perceptions of religion in general, but it stays true to the Barna Group's focus on the way Christians and the culture interact. You may hate what people say about Christians, but you need to know what is on their minds. You may take offense at people who take offense at the way your church worships God, but you need to know what vis
Beau Johnson
Sep 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is certainly not the first book to criticize the church - but it might be the first to back it up. This goes right to the heart of how Christianity and Christians are viewed by outsiders and insiders.

Every church leader should read this book. Especially those that intend to work closely with outsiders such as college ministries, parachurch, and missionaries.

What I appreciate is that this book goes beyond criticism to practical suggestions. It is not afraid to describe the brevity of the si
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. This book should be required reading for Christians everywhere.

Hypocritical. Antihomosexual. Sheltered. Too Political. Judgmental. These are the words most-often used by non-Christians to describe present-day Christianity. And honestly, let's face it. In many ways we are guilty as charged! Instead of a Church known for our love (as an extension of the love of Christ), we're known for being self-righteous and outspoken about all the things we'
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“The motivation of transparency is important. The culture teaches people to be candid and blunt, but this usually revolves around self-centeredness – you have a right to express your true feelings and your rage. This is an entitlement. Instead, the Christian way to approach transparency is to realize out candidness should be motivated by a desire to have a pure heart before God and others.” 19 likes
“Arrogance is perhaps the most socially acceptable form of sin in the church today. In this culture of abundance, one of the only ways Satan can keep Christians neutralized is to wrap us up in pride. Conceit slips in like drafts of cold air in the winter. We don't see it, but outsiders can sense it.” 19 likes
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