J.S. Park's Reviews > You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church... and Rethinking Faith

You Lost Me by David Kinnaman
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's review
Jan 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: christian
Read from January 03 to 09, 2012

David Kinnaman has written an incredibly honest, important work that conveys the monumental changes in a post-Christian culture where the new generation is telling the church, "You lost me." He has compiled all the common reasons why the youth and young professionals are exiting the church doors. From interviews, research, and personal experience, Kinnaman makes clear the landmark at the crossroads of our faith, where we can choose to embrace the rapid shifts of our world while embracing the timeless truth of the Gospel, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other.

Six common complaints have been made by the three groups of church drop-puts -- prodigals, nomads, and exiles -- which are Overprotective, Shallow, Antiscience, Repressive, Exclusive, and Doubtless. Kinnaman is careful to present these claims in a nuanced, balanced, well-researched manner without compromising. He treads a fine line here between understanding the overwhelming grip of our interactive society while re-asserting the tenets of orthodox Christian faith. He is pliable where he needs to be but firm where the Word does not budge.

Kinnaman does this over and over in a tricky tightwire act where every story matters, where the church has mass-produced churchgoers instead of handcrafting disciples but where institutions are not all bad, where some of the complaints leveled at church must be confronted and not quickly dismissed. At times Kinnaman succeeds at holding these concepts in perfect tension, where other times he is a bit too open-ended without conviction. But he does a great and necessary job of opening the discussion for why the church is daily becoming less relevant to our youth.

Three of the complaints, Overprotective, Shallow, and Doubtless, are the most insightful. They manage to get right to the heart of inoculated churchgoers who have been disillusioned with safe answers and cliche slogans. There are no pat solutions to our deepest questions, and churches must be willing to struggle and fight side-by-side for the Gospel truth. Hard questions should be welcomed and explored and resolved together.

The book has some inherent weaknesses that are inevitable to such a work of its kind. Kinnaman fails to mention that even with the most open dialogue, interactive conversation, and cooperative attitudes, the church will still bleed members because many follow the broad road. Sometimes people just leave. Kinnaman at times places a huge unfair burden on ministry workers that must constantly innovate to "keep" churchgoers, and that's exhausting. I wish Kinnaman could have touched on the Spirit's work in this process, or at least relieve us of all responsibility for a church's perceived failure.

There's also an "insider's peek" into why people leave the church which is a fascinating view but a bit voyeuristic and too much curtain-pulling. Kinnaman constantly hammers, "This is why they're leaving," and some of it can harden the hearts of those who left. If I gave this book to a friend who has left the faith, he or she may reply "This is exactly why, so I'm justified." This is the opposite intent of the author but it can hardly be helped. Kinnaman could have made a better plea to those who have abandoned the church instead of focusing so much on how ministry workers can win them back. At times, not on purpose, there is an "ickiness" while reading. It does too much to justify those who have left.

Bottom Line: This is a crucial work for our generation who may have shut off the upcoming generation with overreacting, simplistic programs, and an insider-club mentality. Though Kinnaman observes a bit too much without offering more reflection, he has presented a fantastic study that should be read by every ministry worker for wisdom on dealing with today's culture.
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Reading Progress

01/03/2012 page 31
13.0% "So far I'm absolutely astonished by the research and insight."
01/04/2012 page 115
48.0% "Endlessly fascinating and practical."
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