Book Review: David Kinnaman’s “You Lost Me”

I just finished David Kinnaman’s latest book, “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . And Rethinking Faith.”  Altogether, I would give it a 3.5 out of 5.

True to his profession as a researcher, Kinnaman deals with the state of the faith of young adult Christians (the group he calls the Mosaics, ages 18-26) with a clinician’s perception and a keen analytical mind.  “You Lost Me” is chock full of statistics, but Kinnaman does a good job of adding many anecdotes and quotes from his subjects as well.  If one is looking for a first book about young adult Christian faith, this is a good one.  If you have already read “Almost Christian” by Kenda Creasy Dean, “Soul Searching” by Christian Smith, or (to a lesser degree) Kinnaman’s earlier book with Gabe Lyons, “unChristian,” you will feel like you have heard much of this material before.  I also couldn’t help but feel that Kinnaman’s infatuation with the Mosaics was a bit too idealistic, as if they hold most of the answers our encultured, theology-lite, half-lost churches need.  At the same time, it is nice to read a book on this topic with an overwhelmingly positive tone.  In the end Kinnaman’s answers are the same, right-on-track suggestions others have offered already: foster intergenerational apprenticing relationships, inculcate a deep sense of vocation in our youth, and rediscover the collective wisdom of a Church that is greater than any one generation.

Kinnaman ends “You Lost Me” with thoughts and suggestions from fifty authors, experts and respected voices on the topic of young adult faith.  As a teacher of similar aged teenagers, the following thoughts from Emma Sleeth, a student from Lexington, KY really captured my heart:

I want you to be someone I want to grow up to be like.  I want you to step up and live by the Bible’s standards.  I want you to be inexplicably generous, unbelievably faithful, and radically committed.  I want you to be a noticeably better person than my humanist teacher, than my atheist doctor, than my Hindu next-door neighbor.  I want you to sell all you have and give it to the poor.  I want you to not worry about your health like you’re afraid of dying.  I want you to live like you actually believe in the God you preach about.  I don’t want you to be like me; I want you to be like Jesus.  That’s when I’ll start listening.