The church in America is heading into a dark period.
That statement and similar ones have become more prominent recently as Christians have been perceived to be on the losing side of numerous cultural sticking points—not to mention poll numbers indicating a decline in the number of people who describe themselves as Christians. And that’s not even considering the rise of the so-called “nones.”
While the church as a whole—or Christianity in general—may have lost some influence in the U.S., Christ followers can still be play a major role in our ever-changing society.
That’s the main point behind Good: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme. Written by David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, and Gabe Lyons, author and founder of Q, the book aims to answer the question: “How can people of faith contribute to a world that, more and more, believes religion is bad?”
The book is based on research from Barna that surveyed thousands of U.S. adults and more than 1,000 faith leaders. The goal, the authors write, is “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 chapters cover a variety of issues where Christians experience this cultural tension, and Kinnaman and Lyons offer perspective from their own lives as well as a broader context in terms of how “good faith” Christians should respond. The personal examples generally serve the book well and put flesh on bones when it comes to these issues. However, at times the book can have an author-centric feel to it—as it could use other examples outside the authors’ lives to demonstrate their points.
After discussing how Christians are increasingly viewed as irrelevant and extreme by our increasingly hostile culture, Kinnaman and Lyons spend the bulk of the book on how to live as “good faith” Christians. This is the major part of the book and its best content.
The chapters in this section start with the statement: “Good faith Christians …” followed by a prescription for a certain issue. Some of the chapters include: “Good faith Christians make space for people who disagree”; “Good faith Christians live their convictions and stand out from the crowd”; and “Good faith Christians allow their marriages, families, and hospitality to benefit others.”
The book is put together well and reads quickly. While there are not a ton of new ideas, the authors remind Christians of how we are to live in a culture often at odds with our beliefs. It gives readers encouragement and real-life examples.
Finally, Kinnaman and Lyons tell readers that “we are called not to determine the outcome but to be faithful. Led by love, grounded in biblical belief, and ready to live as a counterculture for the common good, we trust that our good faith will be used by God to renew the world.”