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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  6,740 Ratings  ·  463 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
Feb 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bagger by: Wally
Shelves: to-buy, nonfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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'
Andy Mitchell
If you're a Christian, you will learn about barriers you are likely to encounter today when you share your faith perspective. If you hate Christians, you'll probably just cheer when you learn what people really think about them.

According to survey information gathered by the Barna Group and the Fermi Project (both organizations with Christian missions), Christians are perceived to be hypocritical, more interested in religion conversions than friendship, antihomosexual, sheltered, too political,
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. David Kinnaman and the Barna Group conducted extensive surveys to determine how Christians and Christianity are perceived by younger generations. Kinnaman's book is a summary of the survey's results and a discussion of their practical implications for the Church and church leaders. He identifies and examines the common perceptions of Christians as antihomosexual, judgmental, hypocritical, old-fashioned, too political, out of touch with reality, and so on. This book is sobering an ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
In 2007, Barna Institute polling was commissioned to discover what American non-Christians thought about Christians and Christianity. Here were the top 5 responses:

4)Too involved in politics
5)Out of touch with reality

The fact that these results are 7 years old actually makes them more interesting-in my opinion-since nothing seems to have changed. I really like the scheme of this book: first, the results pertaining to each of the top responses is laid out
Brian Allen
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A powerful book on the truths of why "unbelievers" are not coming to church. WE as a people drove them out through death and judgement. It is vital that we preach TRUTH; we have forgotten to preach JESUS. Hell is real, but that is not the end all of our message. The message, whatever is shared, must point to Jesus Christ. This is a book that looks honestly why people hate the church in America. Our fellow Americans are not idiots, they are blind. Open your eyes, and see your enemies for who they ...more
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Startlingly stats of young people who do not trust the church. They believe in Jesus but have been turned off by Christians who come across as unchristians in too many accusations of sins. Evangelism is done strickly for numbers rather than true demonstrations of love and service for Christ. I think some of the stats from this group of younger people borders on whining and a lack of commitment and are cheap excuses but bears our reflection on how we are coming across as Christians.
Chad Stutzman
Dec 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book knocked my socks off. The research was well done and very informative. If you want to learn about what the younger generation thinks about the church in general this is a must read. The chapter on homosexuality was very eye-opening and helpful. Not only did you get stats, but you got ideas on how to start changing those stats.
Chris Leroux
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
A thorough, if uncomfortable, read for evangelicals that presents an unflinching critique of American church culture. The data and arguments are straight-forward and exhaustive, the tone harsh but hopeful. Even with its tough stance, the book struggles at times with falling victim to the language and stereotypes of the Christian subculture being criticized.
Ruth Jansen
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Insightful and thought provoking. I'm glad that someone has done research regarding the perspectives that people have about the church in America today and the implications for us as Christians.
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“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.” 18 likes
“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.” 16 likes
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