Seven Common Comments Non-Christians Make about Christians

One of my greatest joys in research is talking to and listening to those who clearly identify themselves as non-Christians. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not celebrating their absence of faith in Christ. My joy comes from listening to those who don’t believe as I do, so that I might be better equipped to witness to them.

Over the past several years, my research teams and I have interviewed thousands of unchurched non-Christians. Among the more interesting insights I gleaned were those where the interviewees shared with me their perspectives of Christians.

In this article, I group the seven most common types of comments in order of frequency. I then follow that representative statement with a direct quote from a non-Christian. Read these comments and see if you learn some of the lessons I learned.

  1. Christians are against more things than they are for. “It just seems to me that Christians are mad at the world and mad at each other. They are so negative that they seem unhappy. I have no desire to be like them and stay upset all the time.”
  2. I would like to develop a friendship with a Christian. “I’m really interested in what they believe and how they carry out their beliefs. I wish I could find a Christian that would be willing to spend some time with me.”
  3. I would like to learn about the Bible from a Christian. “The Bible really fascinates me, but I don’t want to go to a stuffy and legalistic church to learn about it. I would be nice if a Christian invited me to study the Bible in his home or at a place like Starbucks.”
  4. I don’t see much difference in the way Christians live compared to others. “I really can’t tell what a Christian believes because he doesn’t seem much different than other people I know. The only exception would be Mormons. They really seem to take their beliefs seriously.”
  5. I wish I could learn to be a better husband, wife, dad, mom, etc., from a Christian. “My wife is threatening to divorce me, and I think she means it this time. My neighbor is a Christian, and he seems to have it together. I am swallowing my pride and asking him to help me.”
  6. Some Christians try to act like they have no problems. “Harriett works in my department. She is one of those Christians who seem to have a mask on. I would respect her more if she didn’t put on such an act. I know better.”
  7. I wish a Christian would take me to his or her church. “I really would like to visit a church, but I’m not particularly comfortable going by myself. What is weird is that I am 32-years old, and I’ve never had a Christian invite me to church in my entire life.”

Do you see the pattern? Non-Christians want to interact with Christians. They want to see Christians’ actions match their beliefs. They want Christians to be real.

In one study we conducted, we found that only five percent of non-Christians are antagonistic toward Christians. It’s time to stop believing the lies we have been told. Jesus said it clearly: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Luke10:2, HCSB).

Satan is the author of excuses. There is no reason to wait to reach those who don’t know Jesus Christ. We must go now. The harvest is waiting. And the Lord of the harvest has prepared the way.

Pastor to Pastor is the Saturday blog series at Pastors and staff, if we can help in any way, contact Steve Drake, our director of pastoral relations, at [email protected]. We also welcome contacts from laypersons in churches asking questions about pastors, churches, or the pastor search process. 

Posted on September 15, 2012

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • I have a friend who is interested in my beliefs as a christian and has started coming to events such as the Federation of christian Athletes on his own. I know he’s gotten to this point because I am ready and willing to engage in spiritual conversations with him. many of my christian friends do not talk about God outside of church because they do not want to offend anyone or they do not want to listen to others opinions. What they do not realize is that “the harvest is abundant” as well as the blessings they receive if they talk about God without fear.

  • Blanche Quizno says on

    Yes, right. You Christians are simply *surrounded* by people practically DESPERATE to come to your churches, yet they seem completely incapable of finding the door! Yes, people just DESPERATE for someone to talk to them about the Bible, yet apparently too stupid to figure out how to walk into any of the dozens of churches that a person can find within a few mile radius in a typical metro area. And that so many unbelievers are apparently in *AWE* of Christians because Christians are so terrific?? Wow – this is truly astonishing! Why do you suppose, if so many people are, indeed, so very EAGER to spend time with Christians and learn about Christianity, that church attendance is dropping – precipitously? Sounds to me like there’s something “fundamentally” wrong with your research *ahem* Sure, you like to think that non-Christians want nothing more than to interact with Christians, but if that were the case, the non-Christians would know *right* where to find them. But they don’t. Figure it out.

  • I have reason to suspect the author just made these 7 comments up to make some point about Christians. Non-Chriistians aren’t non-Christians because they haven’t been invited to your church, they probably left church because the bible is so obviously false.

    • Blanche Quizno says on

      I’m with you, Korky. What a bunch of phony-baloney wishful thinking. I’m sure this sort of thing impresses fellow Christians, but it actually *repels* the rest of us. Try not being so arrogant for once, Christians. You’re not all that.

  • This data’s interesting. I’m familiar with some of the comments (negative/judgmental, putting on the hat, no clear difference in lifestyle), but not others. I’m particularly interested in attempting to reconcile comments one and four, especially if in some cases both comments were made by the same person.

    Thanks for summarizing these findings and reminding (as well as encouraging) us to lovingly engage non-Christians.

    Be blessed!

    • Blanche Quizno says on

      BTW, Justin, just a little FYI – non-Christians are just as offended at Christians targeting them for “loving engagement” as black people are when self-important white people target them for “loving engagement.” In each case, the target realizes that the person doing the targeting is out for a conquest: Win one more soul for Jesus! Or “Look – I have a black friend, so that proves I’m not racist!”

      If you have to be “reminded and encouraged” to interact with non-Christians, then please. Do us non-Christians a favor. Just leave us alone instead. None of us wants to be your little pet project.

  • I suspect some of this interest may be generated by the context of the interview itself.

  • DENISE PEACE says on

    I find these very surprising. I guess I peruse atheist and/or anti-fundamentalist sites. These are certainly not the issues on the minds of us folks when it comes to “Christians”.

  • I’d just like to throw in my two cents as an “Unchurched Non-Christian” as you put it…

    Lets take these 7 points in order, shall we?
    1. “Christians are against more things…” – This is not what I believe at all, I’m sure Christians believe that their preoccupation with their deity and all of “His” “Teachings” covers a wide range of social issues and often generate positive results, its just unfortunate that they require a moral code written over a thousand years ago to teach them right from wrong in the modern world.

    2. “I’d like to make a Christian friend” – I just like to make friends. Full stop. Faith is nowhere near as important as character, social skills, personality, shared interests and chemistry. And yes, of course, diversity is desirable in any group, but if you label someone as your Christian friend, your Jewish friend, your atheist friend etc, that only leads to segregation.

    3. “I’d like to learn about the bible from a Christian” – I’ve no doubt that some of the people you talked to were already receptive to the idea of taking up a new faith for whatever reason and naturally wanted to learn about the Bible from someone friendly, but let it be known, most unchurchables have absolutely no desire to learn about the bible from ANYONE. Those that do wish to learn scripture will do so on their own and then use it against christians when they make ridiculous demands of the general public or otherwise preach out of order nonsense. (I’m looking at you Westboro baptists…)

    4. “Theres not much difference between Christians and me…” – Well, no, you’re quite right. We are all human beings, sharing this single planet, surviving in whatever way we can, eating, sleeping, fornicating and defecating. Look no further than the basics and you will find the greatest complexities. The real differences come in when we look at higher reasoning and functions, the reasons we do the things we do. Some people need a scary beardy bloke in the sky to keep them on the level, some don’t…

    5. “I want to learn to be a better … from a Christian” – In the same way that a problem shared is a problem halved, asking for help from ANYONE with regard to your personal life is often a good idea, but don’t fall into the trap of believing that people of faith are any better at relationships than you BECAUSE of their faith, there are a million contributing factors to relationships that naturally overlap with faith, like being a more secure person, being naturally more caring or attentive or finding a partner with something major in common (which often includes, or is even based on their shared faith)

    6. “Christians need to drop their masks” – Not a great deal to say about this one to be quite honest, everyone has their issues, everyone wears a mask sometimes, its a perfectly natural defense mechanism. Perhaps the respondent should ask “Harriet” what’s wrong…?

    7. “I wish a christian would take me to church” – OK, we’re back to the few people studied who want to be converted, by all means, find them, take them with you, let the true power of the almighty shine upon their hearts and minds and may they find eternal peace chilling by the milkshake fountain on the cloud of dairy-based indulgence or whatever it is they’re really after, but for the love of the flying spaghetti monster, please, please, PLEASE do not assume that EVERYONE is just waiting to be invited into your cult, the vast majority have absolutely no interest in your God, your bible, your church, your family, your self-involved nonsense, your enlightenment, your cause, your charity, your view or your need to indoctrinate any lost soul into the institution that happened to sate your anxiety about death, morality or your plain old-fashioned need to preach.

    On a lighter note, MARK COLLINS seems to be one of the few christians on this page that has his head screwed on. He is my favourite type of believer – he has made a personal choice and apparently it makes him happy. Great! But his faith comes with a responsibility NOT to push it on others, but to be as open and accepting as he can to all. That, in my opinion is what religion should be all about – Peace, Love and Unity.

    • Quick retraction – I’ve just read over Mark’s comment again and it starts with the words “I’m a non-christian…” which doesn’t really help the point I’m making. Its a terrible generalisation to say that non-believers are more rational thinkers but from the tiny cross-section of humanity we have here on this page, it certainly seems that way, eh?

  • Mark Collins says on

    I am a non-Christian, and I find your analysis flawed. Christianity in the US is dominant, it is not difficult to find a Christian to like you, date you, marry you, or take you to church – I know, I have done it. I have also had many conversations with Christians and whilst they are trying to be good, there is still a heavy burden of prejudice and bigotry towards other countries, races, faiths, and atheists. In America the focus seems to be more Christian vs non-Christian, but in Europe there is no single Christian, or Islamic identity and the bigotry is usually manifest at the lower denominational levels Shia, Shiite, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu vs Muslim etc. It is still difficult to find Christians to ACCEPT you if you are non-Christian. You may have the belief that you are right, and your god is the only god, and therefore want to convert others. However there are others equally convinced as you, that are not interested in your god. To them you will still come across as at least “wrong”, or if aggressive then un-accepting, bigoted, alienating. By all means invite those that show an interest in your religion, but do not force your religion on others, or use your religion to oppress. Remember Christianity was used as justification of slavery and is now opposing gay marriage, if you want to improve your tarnished image start being more accepting of others.

    • Blanche Quizno says on

      I agree with Mark, and would like to add that, as a mother of young children in a homeschooling environment, we found ourselves surrounded by Christians. Of course, the kids would become friends and we moms would chat while they played. Without a single exception, this “acquaintanceship” only progressed to the point that I had to make it clear that no, I would not acceptjesusasmypersonalsavior, and no, I would not be attending their church. Then the Christians never called again, and I was left to explain to my sad children why their new friends wouldn’t be playing with them any more.

      When my son was just 6, the boys down the street told him he was not allowed to play with them because he wasn’t a Christian. I went down to see what was going on (because my 4-yr-old daughter was going to go down there and teach those boys a lesson!) and I confirmed that what my son had reported was indeed what they’d said. And the mother of one was right out in the front yard, 25 feet from me, pretending to be very focused on trimming some plants. She never said a word.

      Finally, the 6-yr-old girl across the street told my kids, ages 7 and 9, that if they weren’t Christians, they would be going to hell. She certainly learned the “Good News”. And you Christians wonder why we non-Christians avoid you?? HINT: It’s not because we’re intimidated by your awesomeness and are just sitting here, pining for you, wishing you would like us. We already know you don’t.

      • Blanche, you are great. 🙂 I applaud you letting your children choose and think for themselves and not become some indoctrinated drone like so many of my old friends that never learned to think for themselves. (There’s a reason you hear Christian folk say things like “You have to get ’em while they’re young!)

        I have been hearing this kind of nonsense my whole life, growing up Catholic and FEARING god and punishment of hell if I don’t act in the way that Christian society deems acceptable. Only in the last few years have I had the courage to say that I don’t believe in an invisible man in the sky… You know what? It’s time for some SELF REALIZATION! I hope you all don’t mind. The thing that upsets me the most about the way I was brought up is that my religious beliefs as a child formed me into this little bastard who, along with all the other little religious bastards would pick on and make fun of people who were different. People who acted “gay,” were always the ones who got picked on. Being gay was literally something you could be beaten for. And I participated in this nonsense just for FEAR OF BEING DIFFERENT AND GETTING PICKED ON MYSELF! I attribute this wholly to religious dogma, specifically passages in Leviticus (and other completely backwards parts of the bible.) And it makes me feel self loathing that at one point in my life, albeit a confused and convoluted time, I blindly participated in this kind of disgusting behavior.

        I can gladly say that now that I have “severed the chains” of religion, I am now a loving person who accepts all people. If I were still religious, I’d probably still be associating with all the other “little bastards” who now are probably bullying some kid into committing suicide because he’s gay. The thing I DO NOT accept are beliefs that encroach on other people’s lives. This means any reference to scripture that condemns any person based on THE WAY THEY ARE. If I were gay, so what? Are you seriously going to sit there and tell me that I’m going to “hell” based on text written over the course of several centuries, in several different languages, in one small patch of desert, by a number of men who had little to no grasp on the world around them? It’s incredible to me how hard people clutch onto that book.

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        Alex, isn’t it interesting that, in spite of how important so many Christians tell us that homosexuality is to God, it wasn’t important enough to God to make it into the 10 Commandments?? And yet the very first one – Thou shalt have no gods before me – well, Christians live and work around people who believe in other gods (Hindus, Muslims, wrongheaded other Christians they don’t agree with, Wiccans, etc.) and who believe in none (Buddhists, atheists, etc.), and yet these Christians, who want us to think they’re so concerned about protecting God from what God doesn’t like, ignore all these people violating the FIRST of the 10 Commandments! I know it’s politically incorrect to go about burning one’s coworkers and neighbors at this point in history, but that doesn’t excuse that Christians seem obsessed with man butt sex (sorry to be blunt – women don’t seem to draw the same vitriol) while utterly ignoring God’s command that only He be worshiped.

      • Blanche,

        After reading several of your seemingly bitter comments (this isn’t meant as an attack, I just don’t know what other word to use)…I just wanted to say hello.

        I am a Christian. I do not look at people as targets, only converse with them if they are Christian, or force my opinions or religion on others. Many friends of mine are homosexuals and my boyfriend’s sister is gay. She even has a girlfriend whom she has a baby with, and his son recently became Muslim. They are still my family and I love them with all of my heart. I do not try to find children to “get them when they’re young,” and I do not count my success as a Christian by how many people I have dragged to church. I just want you to know that even though many of us seem to be that way, not all of us are that way.

        The reason that so many churches are closing is because those very “Christians” you are speaking so forcefully against are not true to their faith. Those churches are not solid in what they are supposed to believe, so it only makes sense that they would be losing members, if those are the kinds of practices they are teaching. A recent national study showed that 9 out of 10 homes owns a bible, but less than half of them actually read the darned thing. How can they claim to be a part of something they don’t know anything about?!

        If these people are being holier-than-thou, snobby, selfish, or any of the things that would probably come to your mind right now based on your current opinion of them, just remember that that is NOT what a true Christian should be. People aren’t perfect, but it still shames me that so many Christians act in this manner that it is becoming the accepted view of them. And I apologize to you for it. My faith is compassion, love, generosity, putting others before myself, patience, PEACE, and joy. Anything else is not Christianity. It is posers giving us a bad name in the same way that jihadists give Muslims a bad name.

        I guess the reason I felt the need to comment is to ask that you try to be open to a person you see as a Christian until they prove you wrong. We as a society have learned not to judge every black person, woman, or immigrant through stereotypes, yet we still struggle with people of faith. There are some of us who try very hard to be true to what we believe, and to love the world, so we aren’t ALL the same.

        Have a wonderful weekend!!!

  • Allen McCormick says on

    I think that too many Christians think that it is the pastors job to bring people to church. We are all to spread the Word of God. I also think that our ways, the way we act will let people know if they want to go to church with us or not. As we are not perfect, the way we respond when we mess up says a lot. Christ should shine through us at all times. Don’t give up on those who say no the first time you ask them, just keep on praying for them and ask again when the time is right.

    • A True Skeptic says on

      So if I were to demand that you attend a high-level theoretical math conference (or a high-level biological conference on evolution, or *something* you find both boring and possibly repugnant), then you’d be honor-bound to attend just to show you had an open mind?

      That’s what you’re demanding of these people you believe you need to ‘save’.

      • Indeed. I think a lot of Christians kinda forget that they are salespeople, not rulers, not commanders, not generals, not employers. They don’t get to set *ANY* conditions upon those they wish to make customers. It’s almost funny to see Christians stomp their widdle feet and throw fits over their potential marks exercising their rights as consumers. They’re really not used to being salespeople. They’ve never actually had to worry about actually making their product look appealing to consumers who totally have complete freedom of choice about what religion they will or won’t exercise; they’ve never had to worry about people rejecting them or their grabby religion because until very recently, very few people felt free enough to do either.

        Christianity cannot exist without the power to coerce others. The sharp and swift decline of the religion in America (and its similar declines in ALL developed countries with strong social support networks and solid educational systems) could only happen with Christians’ loss of cultural dominance (and credibility!) and a political system that firmly slaps down Christian overreach. When people have a choice about accepting or rejecting Christianity, we reject it. It’s that simple. It’s simply not a selling formula–and it never had to be, until recently.

        It’s very telling to me that evangelicals’ solution to that serious problem is NOT to improve their product to the point where people actually wish to purchase it, but rather to try to bring their tribe back to political dominance over the rest of us–and to try to set their conditions and limitations upon us to force us to comply with their demands. On the plus side, that unwillingness to critically examine their most toxic aspects is exactly what’s dooming the religion. There’s not one single reputable, credible study or survey out there that’s found any reversals of Christianity’s decline in America–and I’ve no doubt that predictions are so dire because of fundagelicals’ idolatry of their current doctrines.

  • Thanks for the article. A thought about it and the comments.
    When lost people talk about “Christians” as in numbers 2,3,5,and 6 above, they probably don’t mean pastors or church staff as much as lay people.
    The fields are white.

  • Wallace Thomas says on

    May I have permission to quote your blog to my class as we are studying 1 Peter 2:11-17. I think it will add to the lesson.
    Thank you