“The primary reason outsiders feel hostile toward Christians, and especially conservative Christians, is not because of any specific theological perspective. What they react negatively to is our “swagger,” how we go about things and the sense of self-importance we project. Outsiders say that Christians possess bark-and bite. Christians may not normally operate in attack mode, but it happens frequently enough that others have learned to watch their step around us. Outsiders feel they can’t let Christians walk over them.” UnChristian

Truly there is a spiritual repression that outsiders apply to their lives and their responses when invited to belong in our communities of faith, when challenged to repent and believe the gospel, but its not only a spiritual repression that is driving their detraction!

How we go about things inside our local church communities affects outsiders attraction to us. Politics has its price, hierarchy may be needed but too often our heirarchies turn into cool-hunting’s where we search out who’s on top, find their views on debatable issues, and fall in line with the community mimic. Outsiders can’t expect to pick up on all the inside political speak-easy and so rather than understanding the goodness of the gospel under neath all our political mesh they detract from us because of the way we go about things, wanting neither to be in range of our annoying bark or bite because they already are stock full of social cruelity.

There is far too much self-importance in our image driven-ness in our denominational politics (be that Baptist, Methodsit, or Presbyterian), from the resumee’s of our future pastoral candidates, to the affections and values of those on the candidate committee’s; we are a very image-driven people and outsiders see it. They see the games we play (though they may not get the whole playbook), the pretty church makeup we adorn ourselves with; and “the places of honor at our assemblies”. The outsiders are privy to this and want nothing to do with adding yet another malise of affirmation contests – who can blame them, really.

So what can we do to be mindful of our public swagger that starts inside our private communities?

Put on Christ by putting off the flesh with all of its desires.

Put ourselves in difficult accountability relationships where people will be ruggedly honest with us.

Pray that the depth, height, and breadth of Christ’ love be revealed to our unbelieving hearts.

Publicly confess our sins, not as apologies but as confessions.

Find the greatest mic to our neighbors to be mercy shaped and not bull-horn shaped.

Continue to stumble forward in growth, regardless how cumbersome our strut may appear.