Journalist Tom Krattenmaker is not a Christian, but he does an excellent job of introducing progressives to a new kind of Evangelicalism in his new book, The Evangelicals You Don’t Know: Introducing the Next Generation of Christians. I wasn’t sure how a person who is not a part of the evangelical sub-culture would do writing a book like this. Can you really “get us” if you’re not a part of us? Like, really get us?
Y’all, he does.
Krattenmaker speaks with knowledge, respect, and insight as he introduces his readers to evangelicals whom they may not have heard of, but who are indeed the faces of the next generation. Of the eight leaders he choose, I hadn’t heard of one of them (Kevin Palau from out in Portland). And although I had heard of the others, Krattenmaker’s research shed light on aspects of their ministry that I maybe hadn’t thought about before. It’s interesting to hear an “outsider’s” perspective.
Krattenmaker told stories of Christians making a real difference in the communities in which they were involved. He didn’t chalk them up to “doing good”, but clearly communicated that the good that these faith communities were doing in their neighborhoods were, a.) because of the gospel, b.) loving and b.) actually good for the communities. I was surprised that he chose to include Jim Daly (the new head of Focus on the Family), but glad that he did.
Evangelicals should go into this book knowing that it is not necessarily written for them, although it will probably give a sort of encouragement to many who read it. Krattenmaker is not writing to say, “good job, keep converting!” (although he’s clear about what evangelical means). His goal may be to help others understand the Evangelical world, and figure out how they can partner with us in working towards a common good.
Overall, I’m thankful for this book. Part of me hopes that people who have a bad taste in their mouth about evangelicals will read this and walk away feeling hopeful. But most of me hopes that this kind of evangelicalism will make it’s way to peoples’ real lives, that they won’t just have to read about it to know that it exists, and friendships will form despite the “faith divide.” I must admit, though, I do wonder how many non-evangelicals will actually read this book.
I received this book through SpeakEasy in exchange for my fair and honest review.