“You Lost Me” is a follow-up to Kinnaman and Lyon’s “unChristian” book published several years ago. Though both published by Baker, they were based upon research done through the Barna Group. YLM was written solely by Kinnaman (with help from Aly Hawkins) and continues with exploring the idea that many young Christians grow frustrated with their faith and end up leaving it/church communities behind.
unChristian addressed six widely held negative perceptions about Christianity as held by young Christians and non-believers. YLM explores another 6 negative perceptions and these tend to be the reasons why people leave faith: church is too overprotective, shallow, anti-science, repressive, exclusive and leaves no room for doubt. These reasons outlined are all based upon hundreds of interviews and Kinnaman repeatedly makes the point that each of these individual stories are important and matter. Obviously what negatively affects one person will be different than another, but patterns emerged.
Kinnaman also explores the culture of youth and how the idea of access, alienation and authority are a huge part of growing up in America today. He also presents three broad categories of those who leave behind their faith as nomads, exiles and prodigals and uses different celebrities to explain these archetypes.
I know that unChristian opened up a lot of people’s eyes to problems within the American Church and YLM continues with this trend. One need not read the first book to fully appreciate YLM, but I would certainly recommend it. Like it’s predecessor, YLM is well documented, interlaced with personal reflections as well as others stories who highlight their points and contains helpful advice by other Christians (YLM has some former Christian voices as well) for how to better strengthen faith. I appreciated that the follow-up was a little more ecumenical in it’s outlook and seemed to use more Catholic stories and language in the writing. I would highly recommend this book to parents as well as youth and church leaders, as it helps to explain youth culture and ways that much of traditional church ethos drives people away. I really appreciate the work of Barna and look forward to how their research will help the church for years to come.
Real people and their stories matter. Young Christian adults are facing a rapidly changing world where everything they know is being flipped upside down every day as they encounter pressure from their peers to abandon the Christian faith. In addition to this peer-pressure many young Christian adults feel as if the Church has failed to help them to live “in but not of the world”. In You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church And Rethinking Faith David Kinnaman makes the case from statistics he gathered from studying young adults since 2003, and examining Scripture that the Church needs to improve in how it equips young adults to live Christian lives. You Lost Me takes a comphrensive look at nearly every facet of young adult’s lives from their perceptions of how the Church views science, is repressive, exclusive, and doesn’t allow doubt and more. The book doesn’t stop at just giving statistical evidence but moves into telling the stories of young men and women whose stories really matter. Unlike many books that are research oriented You Lost Me is written in such a way as to help the local church in its mission of making disciples of young adults.
The one concern that I have about this book is that the author takes an ecumenical approach to his research by arguing “whether we come from a Catholic, evangelical, mainline, or Orthodox tradition, we need to help the next generation of Christ-followers deal well with cultural accommodation; we need to help them live in-but-not-of lives (Kinnaman, 15). The one thing that would have strengthened this book would have been a discussion on how young adults view the Gospel and how to help live Gospel-centered lives in the context of the local church.
You Lost Me seeks to examine the next generation’s cultural context and examines the question, “How can we follow Jesus-and help young people faithfully follow Jesus-in a dramatically different culture?” Even with the concern over the ecumenical approach of the author You Lost Me is a very helpful book that will help Pastors to understand how to better minister and equip young adults to walk with God in all of life. The author is spot on that the church has traditionally not done a good job at helping creative types (artists, writers, etc) and those scientifically oriented to walk with God in areas they feel called to.
The one thing I appreciated the most about You Lost Me is the emphasize on not only “how” we can rectify the problem but the author examining through the lens of nomads, prodigals and exiles what each group thinks about the Church. Many young adults are leaving the Church because they have been hurt by the Church or they have had a bad experience and no longer see the relevancy of the Gospel for their lives. As sad as many of these stories are the Church should not give up nor should it compromise. The Gospel is the power of God to transform people’s lives by transferring them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Reading books like You Lost Me always interest me. I love learning more about how to reach people with the Gospel. Overall reading You Lost Me has been very educational and given me a lot to think about especially when I talk to young adults. I recommend every Christian read You Lost Me but especially Pastors and ministry leaders in order to get a better handle on what young adults think about the church.
The faith journeys of the next challenge are a challenge to the established Church, but they can also be a source of hope for the Church. I encourage you to read You Lost Me in order to be equipped to think through how to reach young adults. I believe as you read this book you will be challenged, convicted and also encouraged as you read the real stories of young adults and how to reach them. Read You Lost Me, but so do prayerfully, thoughtfully and reflectively for in doing so you will be further equipped to minister in whatever context you are in to the young adults around you.
Title: You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church And Rethinking Faith
Author: David Kinnaman
Publisher: Baker Books (2011)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Baker Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”