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Real youth just want to be heard

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The Outsider Interviews:
A New Generation Speaks Out on Christianity

Jim Henderson, Todd Hunter, and Craig Spinks

Baker Books, 2010
208 pages + 105 min. DVD




I love the premise of this book. The authors ask, “What if evangelism in our time is more about listening than speaking?” This is the most important takeaway from The Outsider Interviews.

The Outsider Interviews is a follow-up to the book unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. Based on studies by The Barna Group, unChristian presented a sobering report of what young Americans (ages 16–29) think of Christians, the church, and faith.

But statistics don’t tell us the story behind the numbers. Outsider Interviews authors Jim Henderson, Todd Hunter, and Craig Spinks listened to these stories, conducting interviews in four U.S. cities. The book tells about the people, and the accompanying DVD allows the reader to see them and hear them speak.

The interviews were interesting, and interviewees made many good observations about church and culture. But, there wasn’t anything said in these conversations I haven’t already heard in my own church and community.

The cultural shift from modernism to postmodernism has been well-documented. Canada is culturally ahead of the U.S. in this paradigm shift; many Canadian leaders will not be surprised at what is said in this book. It is the air we breathe.

The best contribution this book brings to those who are in church leadership is a model of evangelism and communication. Outsider Interviews encourages us not to see people as a project and to make every effort to listen to the younger generation with no strings attached. If you have been troubled by the stats of unChristian and other similar studies, this book is a valuable next step.

Matt Dyck is youth and young adults pastor at SunWest Christian Fellowship, Calgary.

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