Spent some time this week with Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme, a new book from David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. An encore for Kinnaman and Lyons, their 2007 collaboration unChristian was an eyeopening book that “presented the North American church with an ‘outsider’s view’ of itself and challenged individual Christian and church communities to seriously consider the critiques offered by young nonbelievers.”
The book’s title is an interesting play on words, contending that “faith, when it is done right, is good. It is good not only for the faithful but for non-believers as well. Lived well and practiced consistently, good faith may be the best hope for our neighbors and society as a whole.”
Research-based, the Barna Group “interviewed thousands of US adults and more than one thousand faith leaders, including Protestant pastors and Catholic priests, as well as Jewish, Muslim, Mormon and other clergy. The goal was to get an accurate lay of the cultural landscape, particularly of the places where communities of faith feel friction with their surrounding culture–and vice versa.”
The essence of Good Faith can be found in three questions:
- “What does the future hold for people of faith when people perceive Christians as irrelevant and extreme?
- In what ways can faith be a force for good in society?
- How can people of faith contribute to a world that, more and more, believes religion is bad?”
Good Faith is delivered in three parts. Part One carefully illustrates the current and rapidly changing cultural landscape of North America. Part Two wrestles with how to live good faith and peers with new insight into many of the most challenging aspects of our fractured landscape (i.e., sex and sexuality, race, politics, and public life, morals and virtues, and many more). Finally, Part Three wraps up with a compelling look and vision for the Church and its future.
Like unChristian, my copy of Good Faith is heavily marked up, underlined, starred, and dog-eared. So much to absorb, it already begs a more careful second reading. I’ll definitely be challenging our staff and leadership team to dig into it as well.
While there were many sections that grabbed my attention and caused me nod my head in agreement or shake my head in sadness, this is a tremendously hopeful book. Like The Next Christians, Gabe Lyons’ 2010 book, a way forward is compellingly presented. For example, I can’t wait to begin to apply the principles delivered in Love, Believe, Live (an important chapter in Part Two).
If you have any interest in being salt and light in your neighborhood or workplace, Good Faith is a must read. Please don’t miss this one.