they like jesus, but not the church

i originally posted this review of dan kimball’s new book when i read a pre-release copy in november. but the book is out now, and deserves attention (and a re-post). i highly, highly recommend it.

They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations, by Dan Kimball.

i read pre-release copy of dan’s newest book on the plane yesterday (the book releases in march). dan is really an evangelist at heart, imho — but that gets played out in such a gloriously different way than what ‘evangelist’ normally means to most of us, because dan is: 1. an introvert, 2. very conversant with the wily ways of 20-somethings, and 3. one of the 5 nicest people on the planet (i’m not sure who the other 4 are, but it seemed a bit of a stretch to say he’s ‘the nicest’). really, with dan’s first and second books (both of which have sold very well) called the emerging church and emerging worship, i’m really surprised this book wasn’t titled ’emerging evangelism’, since that’s really what the book is about.

but i do understand why dan wanted this title. it’s a reflection of the root conundrum he addresses in this book (incidentally, while this book is written for church leaders, a companion book, called i like jesus, but not the church: following jesus without following organized religion, written for a broader audience, is set to release later in 07). dan, through his regular and normal interactions with 20- and 30-somethings outside the church (he usually refers, in the book, to those under 35), noticed a thread (reflected in the title of the book). so dan formalized a bit of investigation, asking a dozen of these friends if they would be willing to have a series of discussions with him specifically for this book, to which every one of them agreed. these people are smart, savvy, generous, cultural creatives, living in santa cruz, california. the bulk of the book, filled with the wonderfully thoughtful and blunt voices from these interviews, is a chapter-by-chapter unpacking of the handful of common themes brought out in all the interviews, along with suggestions from dan about how churches can change in these areas.

really good and practical stuff. i know the leaders of my own church (who really do care about these issues) will devour this book. this is one of those books that all church leaders should read, whatever their church tradition, worship style, or denominational persuation.

12 thoughts on “they like jesus, but not the church”

  1. With all the interviewees coming from CA, how much do you think it will cross over to the different cultures in the US? I’m a youth pastor from WA, and my wife is from IL, and she and I both have seen tremendous differences in the cultures of those areas, especially the church culture. Thoughts?

  2. paul, i mentioned that because i know it will be a common response. dan does address this in the book, and contends that it\’s not just a california thing (really, dan is in one of the \’spirituality\’ centers of cali, in santa cruz), but is common, at least to some degree, across the states. he does a reasonable job of defending this notion; however, i\’m sure there are SOME regional normative differences — but my guess is that the themes of the book are more common to unchurched 20-somethings than they are disparate.

    dan? i\’m sure you\’ll read this at some point. want to chime in?

  3. Looking forward to its release. I’ve noticed that Dan is very much approachable and welcoming in his style of ministry. I appreciate his heart for addressing these issues.

  4. Also- I live in Santa Cruz and most residents are aware that Santa Cruz breeds a very different culture both inside and outside the church. I’m originally from Idaho and I’ve spent some time in North Carolina, and there are obvious variables that lend to local culture. I like that Dan chose local people to discuss these topics with because it narrows the focus group and more can be accomplished. It’s possible that these same discussions can take place across the country/world in intimate or familiar settings, and Dan’s book could help jumpstart some of these conversations by motivating folks to engage with one another.

  5. You do realize that this perk, getting books to read before everyone else, is something to be very envious of. If envy wasnt one of the 7 deadly sins..nevermind

  6. I am from the east coast and feel the same way as the title of this book. I also know others in this area that feel the way I do. So, I don’t think that it is strictly a Cali issue. I think that it is becoming more widespread than that.

  7. I’ve been looking forward to this release for sometime. I just wish Dan would send me a copy. Man, he knows how I’ve been coveting this book and it is almost causing me to sin … LOL. You have to ask about his shadow puppets –

  8. Dan’s first two books hold a special place on my book shelf and are referred to often. I pre-ordered the new one and it has been eye opening. As an East Coast youth/youth adult pastor, I think Dan does a good job of writing that works in different situations. Once in awhile, the Cali-Filter has to be apply, but overall, this book is solid and the church needs to consider the implications of how we do ministry.

  9. Okay, I’m convinced. I’ll check it out. I am very interested in this topic, and am well aware of some of the issues, so I look forward to reading his take on it.

  10. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a market for a YS book for the less emergent I Like The Church, but I’m Not Too Sure About Jesus :)

    Unfortunately, I think we could have lots of anecdotal information to back that one up.

  11. Yep Marko, Dan IS an evangelist (all strange stereotypes aside) AND is sweet guy AND a flaming introvert. I think we can cure Dan’s clinical introversion if we help him with some medicinal tequila therapy. Here is the official advertisement for the medicinal benefits our friend Danny could experience …check this out


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