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I spent last fall chasing a suitcase from city to city on tours of the U.K. and U.S., promoting my new book on prayer. Along the way, I got a bird's-eye view of the church, and among my observations, the following stand out.

Christians in Great Britain seem more serious about their faith than their counterparts in the U.S. In a nation where only 6 percent of the population attends church, there is no overlay of cultural Christianity and no social advantage to church affiliation. As I have noticed in other countries, when Christians constitute a tiny minority, they are more likely to work together, too. With their impressive infrastructure, American churches tend to do things on their own or work within a denomination. One more difference: British audiences still hunger for content, whereas in America content goes over best when enwrapped in entertainment.

If you drew your conclusions from CNN, you would view Christians, and especially evangelicals, as a voting bloc to be manipulated by politicians, with news about them punctuated by the occasional sexual scandal. Go out in person, however, and you will meet countless people of faith who are sincerely trying to follow Jesus even when it cuts against the grain of culture.

One of my trips took me to the heart of Amish country, a few miles from the site of the Nickel Mines school massacre. News about the tragedy faded quickly in the U.S., but not worldwide. International readers were fascinated by a group who eschewed modern dress and conveniences and who responded in such an un-American fashion to an act of violence.

Indeed, 2,400 articles in the world press featured the theme of forgiveness. More than half of those who attended the murderer's funeral were Amish. "We sin, too," ...

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Philip Yancey
Philip Yancey is editor at large of Christianity Today and cochair of the editorial board for Books and Culture. Yancey's most recent book is What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters. His other books include Prayer (2006), Rumors of Another World (2003), Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), The Jesus I Never Knew (1995), Where is God When It Hurts (1990), and many others. His Christianity Today column ran from 1985 to 2009.
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March 2007

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