Saturday, June 24, 2006

A Challenge for the Church

One of our speakers at the conference this morning said an interesting thing. He is from the U.K. and was remarking on the big US market for "conspiracy theory" books about Christianity and the origins of the church/bible. He claims that, while the Da Vinci Code sold well in Europe, these "conspiracy theory" books aren't finding the wide and eager reception there that they seem to be finding on this side of the pond.

His theory: since the church is not nearly the community presence and cultural force in Europe as it is in the States, there are fewer people there who have had a really bad encounter with practicing Christians--either through their own negative experience within a church or through encountering pushy evangelists or having someone they know inform them that they are going to hell---whatever. Since more Americans have had an experience that makes them feel bad about Christianity, there is a big market here for books that help people feel good about feeling bad about Christianity.

To me, this has a certain ring of truth to it. It also seems to me that if this is true, many of us Christians have responded in exactly the wrong way: by publishing books intended to make people feel bad about feeling bad about Christianity, which is not going to work. These books may help some Christians feel good about feeling bad about people who feel bad about Christianity, but it won't really do much to effect a change of heart in the folks who have been turned off or outright wounded by an encounter with certain manifestations of the church.

To me the better strategy is to be the church in a way that gives people reasons to feel good about Christianity again--which is harder than it sounds, eh?


SpookyRach said...

Its always easier to be against.

Quotidian Grace said...

"harder than it sounds"--and how!