A friend sent me a youtube clip of Gabe Lyons being interviewed about his book Unchristian. I think I'd like the lad. His premise is that nonChristians in his generation have negative images of Christians that interferes with their even consider the claims of Christ.
Favorite topic of mine. The immediate conclusion everyone draws, without it going through their logical processes, is that the kids are right, and Christians should stop doing all this dumb stuff and start acting like Christians, and more people would believe in Jesus.
I haven't seen any evidence for that in my Christian lifetime. I have been in places where the Christians are annoying, rigid, and hypocritical, and in places where they are meek, winsome, and sincere - and of course the wide variety of in-betweens and combinations. I have known Christians who were giants of generosity and kindness who had no visible effect on those around them. I don't say it never has any effect, for conversion stories are full of descriptions of inspiring figures who maintained their faith under pressure and caused others to think. We should certainly guard our behavior as if it all depended on our character.
But it doesn't. It's 90% sales job against us, and the young are particularly susceptible to adopting attitudes around them. We swim against a great tide, and all we can hope is to rescue a few.
Politically liberal Christians like to believe this myth because they want more space for their politics in the national conversation. Evangelical die-hards like the myth because it tells them if everyone just behaved better all would go right. Nonbelievers like to have someone else to blame for their unbelief. Mainstreamers, groups raising money, fundamentalists, church drop-outs, cultists, preachers inspiring the faithful, church planters - absolutely everyone has a reason why this myth tickles their ears. We want it to be true.
Doesn't make it true.