David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons share their combined skillset to help today’s Christians live out a “good faith” in a society that thinks Christ followers are both irrelevant and extremists.
“We think that love plus belief plus living it out equals good faith. In a lot of ways, our research shows that what’s missing for Millennial Christians is the ‘belief ’ part. And what’s missing for Boomer Christians is the ‘love’ part. So we really need each other, as the body of Christ, to fine tune the tension of ‘love plus believe plus live.’”
Their book, Good Faith, (Baker Publishing Group) is partially an answer for Christians who feel pressure in a negative way and then retreat deeper into the inner sanctums of the church building rather than courageously face their accusers by answering them in loving words and deeds.
Start a conversation
Many believers may feel discouraged by today’s culture, but Kinnaman and Lyons prefer to focus on the positive aspect of living as good faith Christians. “When a society expresses skepticism, it still is asking questions. That’s good news for Christians!”
The authors note that when Christ followers direct the pressure placed upon them to explain (and subsequently) live out Christ’s commands to love our neighbors as ourselves, skeptics will see the relevancy of Jesus’ message for today.
In Good Faith, Kinnaman and Lyons guide Christians through this potential minefield of negativity to recognize the rich opportunities that lay untapped. Their research unveiled a particular weak point shared by numerous Christians: they’re “conversationally challenged.”
Says Kinnaman and Lyons, “We don’t know how to have normal and natural conversations with people who are different from us. Jesus calls us to be effective conversationalists, for the sake of the Good News.”
The authors recommend honing our conversational skills as one of the most important abilities believers should cultivate. “Asking good questions, seeing others as real people (not as targets), understanding the religiously plural society we inhabit, having confidence in the Bible, and trying to understand the heart behind those who hold opposing viewpoints are some of those conversational muscles we can exercise.”
Lead with love
Christian stores have a unique and positive position to create a safe place for deeper exploration of the changing world we live in.
“It’s important for those working in such settings to turn down the ‘fear dial’ and turn up the cultural engagement meter—our culture is a crazy, upside down place, but that should compel us to be involved in it.”
For today’s Christians, viewing pressure from a different vantage point will make all the difference in how we choose to respond.
“Pressure is a good thing. Exercise is good for healthy bodies. Skepticism is good to build healthy souls. Besides, Jesus himself says we will face challenges and that we will be considered blessed because of it, so why are we surprised by it?”
Kinnaman and Lyons recommend three objectives for Christian storeowners to focus on as they meet seekers who come through their doors. First, the starting point for Christian cultural engagements is love. “We need to lead in love. That is the preeminent Christian virtue: love never fails (1 Corinthians 13).”
Next, Christians must understand and believe the counter cultural truths of Scripture. Finally, “it is crucial that we live out our love and our beliefs in a way that turns people to Jesus.”
They believe that when sincere believers make it their personal mandate to “lead with love,” remarkable changes can happen. In personal and public arenas, the love of Christ can and will continue to make a mark on society that even the most hardened skeptic cannot ignore.