Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What is a Ham Fighter?

I get asked the question a lot: what is a Ham Fighter?

Well, really, there's no such thing. The name comes from the Japanese baseball team, the Nippon Ham Fighters. The thing is, almost no one in America has ever heard of the city of Nippon Ham, so they assume that "Nippon" is the city and "Ham Fighters" is the mascot.

Not quite.

Too many times what the truth is isn't what people perceive as the truth. David Kinnamon says in his book, UnChristian:

Only one-third of young outsiders believe that Christians genuinely care about them (34 percent). And most Christians are oblivious to these perceptions—64 percent of Christians said they believe that outsiders would perceive their efforts as genuine.

While our outreach to those outside Christianity may be out of genuine concern for them, most often, those same people we are trying to reach don't feel that we are genuine. Just like with Nippon Ham, most people don't understand the truth behind the team's name, so to them, "Ham Fighters" becomes the truth.

With the Fighters though, the difference between reality and perception is the difference between a boring name and a funny name. When it comes to Christians' outreach toward outsiders, the difference is heaven and hell. Because, unfortunately, most people's biggest obstacle to Christianity is Christians. And when we appear ingenuine [sic - can I sic myself?], it make Christianity appear ungenuine [sic - apparently so, since I'm doing it].

How can we community with clarity genuine concern for outsiders to Christianity?


Anna said...

"unfortunately, most people's biggest obstacle to Christianity is Christians." That's so true and so sad... how can we change that!?!

Patrick Sievert said...

I think the first key is admitted that we're fallen people - and being real with people about our faults.

Also from UnChristian:

We asked born again Christian adults to identify the priorities Christians pursue in terms of their personal faith. The most common response was lifestyle – being good, doing the right thing, not sinning, a response mentioned
by 37% of believers.

Until Christians as a whole begin to get what Christianity is about (as it, it's not being good), we're going to continue to portray that Christianity is about being good. The problem is, we aren't. We mess up. And as long as we make our focus of Christianity on what we do (or don't do) and not about Jesus, people will continue to see Christianity as a joke.


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