Have we become famous for what we obsessively oppose, rather than who we are?  Let’s be honest when we answer this question.  This should be a very important question when we are evaluating ourselves and our denominations.  When I use the word “denominations”, I am not using it exclusively for Christianity but for the denominations of Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots as well.  I will be writing over the next few months and hopefully doing videos to deal with how outsiders, those who identify as non-believers in Y’shua, view believers.
Barna Group did a three year study on thousands of 16-29 year olds and finished the study up in 2007.  Now you may think that is a long time ago.  What does that have to do with us?  Those 16-29 year olds are currently ages 29-42. The reason why I found this study interesting is because this is the age group of people that many leaders find themselves ministering to today.
Many times I’ve been frustrated, like many other leaders, trying to figure out why we seem to never be able to get on the same page and unite in our efforts in promoting the Kingdom of YHVH.  Out fishing, you have a little down time every once in a while to read but a lot of time to meditate and think.  I haven’t found all the answers out yet!  I have had a lot of time to reevaluate a many things.  My brother passing away unexpectedly really brought much into perspective.  Life is truly too short, and we should take advantage of every second with which we are blessed.
Over the next few months, we are going to be taking a look at research numbers.  Folks, the numbers don’t lie.  I was shocked at what this study revealed about outsiders’ views of folks like you and me.  I’m sure some of the numbers are going to shock people, and0 I’m positive some of the numbers are going to make folks uneasy.  Bottom line is the numbers are embarrassing and shameful.  With that part out of the way, I’ll give you the good news.  This isn’t a hit piece against Christianity, Judaism, Messianics, Messianic Judaism, Hebrew Roots, or any other religious sect.  The reason why I say that is because the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob never called us to pledge allegiance to a movement or denomination over His Kingdom.  Y’shua most certainly didn’t die on that stake for us to pitch our tents around a movement or denomination.  He did it for THE WHOSOEVERS!  John 3:16  Here is the solution right out of the gate.  We must return to having a love and a heart FOR PEOPLE no matter who they are.  Yes even those “outsiders” who may not “be” one of us yet.  This is easier said than done; so we better start doing.
Here is what outsiders said about you and me when they were asked their perception of believers in Y’shua.  91% said anti-homosexual.  87% of outsiders said judgmental while 85% said hypocritical.  Others making the list were too involved in politics, out of touch with reality, old fashioned, insensitive to others, boring, not accepting of other faiths, and confusing.  Before you jump to conclusions about these outsiders and write them off as pagans or heathens, most of those surveyed had previous experiences in a church or had friends who were believers.  In other words, these weren’t just atheists who are “anti-us” no matter the case we may present.  The main reason outsiders are hostile to us is due to the way we carry ourselves.  The swagger of our self-importance repulses them!
I will eventually get to multiple solutions, but we have to deal with the messy stuff first.  The more I began to look at the numbers and this survey, the more I realized that the outsiders may say things that we think are crazy but have reasons for saying them.  That is when you pause and start seeing where we’ve all done our part in small part in creating this perception.  Let’s back up for a moment.  Remember that age group this study was done on and their perception of believers?  Those folks are currently 29-42 years old.  This was that age group’s attitude about a decade ago.  The research also shows that in every generation from Baby Boomers to present, morals have declined, and what wasn’t permissible previously is fair game now.  When I started studying this data, I didn’t just see all the negative stuff but began seeing why outsiders are skeptical of believers.  I have to say I don’t blame them because at the end of the day, we seem to eat our own kind if you know what I mean.
By the way that is how a very close Christian friend of mine described Hebrew Roots.  When was the last time we actually stopped and listened to where an outsider was coming from because we truly cared about their well being? One solution is just listening and trying to understand  those with whom we might not agree. This shows outsiders that we truly care and are sincere.  One of the biggest complaints of outsiders was believers debating them or shaming them into converting to belief in Y’shua.  While we may make the excuse of them being heathen and rebellious for being skeptical and rejecting conversion, we forget that their personal experiences have influenced them into making an observation.   That observation is that modern day Christianity no longer seems Christian.  Let me translate. Believers no longer act like believers and followers of Y’shua. Why would I want to join something that says one thing but does the opposite and isn’t truly following who they claim to follow.
Solution:  Take time and have a sincere conversation where we find out what the issue really is and try and give good Godly counsel and advice.  Even ask permission to pray for them after the conversation.  All they can say is no.  You haven’t ever been told no before?  Sure you have, and it didn’t kill you.  In order to really have an impact on others, there has to be a bridge or a relationship.  When you have that bridge established, then you can speak into others lives.  A skeptical person usually will not allow you to speak into their lives.  Their guard is up, but I guarantee if you just stop and listen to them it will make a huge difference.  Their skepticism and the image they have drawn of who you are supposed to be gets challenged, not because you’ve called them out but because you are showing them you aren’t who they think you are.   Little by little the guard comes down and a little bit of that skepticism is chiseled away. All it takes is sincerely caring for others rather than just caring for ourself.  I will continue this over the next few months and get into more specifics.  The time to live for the Kingdom in deeds and words is now.