The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian Americaby Gabe Lyons
Turn on a cable news show or pick up any news magazine, and you get the impression that Christian America is on its last leg. The once dominant faith is now facing rapidly declining church attendance, waning political influence, and an abysmal public perception. More than 76% of Americans self-identify as Christians, but many today are ashamed to carry the label.
While many Christians are bemoaning their faith’s decline, Gabe Lyons is optimistic that Christianity’s best days are yet to come. In the wake of the stunning research from his bestselling book, unChristian, which revealed the growing disenchantment among young generations for Christians, Lyons has witnessed the beginnings of a new iteration of the faith. Marked by Lyons’ brutal honesty and unvarying generosity, Lyons exposes a whole movement of Christians—Evangelicals, Mainline, Protestants, Orthodox, Pentecostals, and others—who desire to be a force for restoration even as they proclaim the Christian Gospel. They want the label Christian to mean something good, intelligent, authentic, and beautiful.
The next generation of Christians, Lyons argues, embodies six revolutionary characteristics:
“When Christians incorporate these characteristics throughout the fabric of their lives, a fresh, yet orthodox way of being Christian springs forth. The death of yesterday becomes the birth of a great tomorrow. The end of an era becomes a beautiful new beginning. In this way, the end of Christian America becomes good news for Christians.”
In THE NEXT CHRISTIANS, Lyons disarms readers by speaking as a candid observer rather than cultural crusader. Where other people shout, Lyons speaks in a measured tone offering helpful analysis of our current reality while casting a vision for how to be a Christian in a world disenchanted with the faith. Both a celebration and a reckoning, THE NEXT CHRISTIANS combines current day models and relevant research with stories of a new generation of Christian leaders. If you are worried by what you see transpiring around you, this book will take you on a surprising social exploration in hopes that you too will restore confidence in your faith.
“Gabe Lyons leads an important group of younger Christians who are seeking to avoid both the triumphalism as well as the cultural withdrawal of former generations of believers. We all have a long way to go as we think out how Christ relates to culture in our day. As we do so, we would do well to consider many of the significant insights that Gabe offers in this book.”
—Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City
“The Next Christians is a revolution tightly packaged within a book. As a pastor, it was game changing for me and the people of my church…every person should read it. This is the future!”
—John Ortberg, best-selling author and pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church
“Gabe Lyons is one of the brightest young Christian leaders I’ve worked with and mentored. I’ve challenged his thinking; he has challenged mine—as he does again with his latest book, The Next Christians. I recommend this book, which will give you great insight into the hopes and aspirations of the next generation of Christian leaders.”
—Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview
“If I had to pick one leader for the next generation for Christians, it would be Gabe Lyons. If I had to pick one chapter from this book, it would be ‘Relearning Restoration.’ If I had to pick one sentence it would be this one: Christ didn’t come only to save us ‘ from something. He wanted to save Christians to something.’ Gabe Lyons gets it: restoration is the vision for the Next Christians, and I’m cheering them on.”
—Scot McKnight, New Testament scholar and author of The Jesus Creed
“The Next Christians is the best book you’ll read this year. Filled with stories of hope and grace, it’s a passionate call to join followers of Jesus everywhere in restoring the faith. You can’t afford to miss it!”
—Margaret Feinberg, author of Scouting the Divine and The Organic God
“At a time when a central challenge to faith is to be both faithful and fresh, Gabe Lyons’s is a voice I always listen to and benefi t from enormously.”
—Os Guinness, cultural historian and author of The Last Christian on Earth
“It seems an impossible task: restore a 2,000-year-old religion so that it no longer rejects, no longer chases, but actually leads a modern, pluralistic culture running at the speed of Twitter. Gabe Lyons offers hope for Christianity’s next one hundred years by profiling the next set of Christians transcending this epic challenge. I found his preview of Christian innovators inspiring post-Christian America persuasive and one of the most encouraging views of Christian faith in recent years.”
—Kevin Kelly, cofounder of Wired magazine
“The Next Christians is a must-read for anyone seeking to engage a broken world with the healing power of the Gospel. Provocative, yet massively optimistic, Gabe Lyons’s message challenges the ‘Christianity vs. Culture’ paradigm of the recent past with the hopeful template of ‘Christ as restorer of humanity,’ worked out through a new breed of Jesus followers, who are unashamedly running into the darkness—broken-yet-loved ambassadors for the One who makes all things new.”
—Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church and founder of the Passion Movement
“What Lyons gives us here, in spades and with proof texts, is the good news about the state of the Good News in tomorrow’s America. Those who have despaired that even the label ‘Christian’ might be tarnished beyond credibility, much less affection and influence, will find a thousand reasons to rejoice here. Chock-full of examples and stories, Lyons’s work also is full of brilliant insights and piercing applications of traditional verbiage to new ways of being in this world.”
—Phyllis Tickle, founding religion editor, Publishers Weekly
“We’re in an important time in Christianity. Leaders are considering the Gospel, its implications, and how we might live faithfully in the world we find ourselves. Gabe Lyons is an important voice in that conversation. In The Next Christians, he sets out a vision for Christians making a difference in the world. You should read this book and wrestle with his ideas as we consider together how we might be faithful to the Gospel in today’s world.”
—Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research; coauthor of Transformational Church
“The Next Christians is not about rehashing stale debates or reliving the culture wars. It is not about empty ideologies or even about branding a movement—it is about reading the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other and listening to God say, ‘Come change the world with me.’ ”
—Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and recovering sinner
“Gabe Lyons articulates a fresh and inspiring vision for bringing Christian faith forward in the new cultural paradigm of 21st-century America. May this become the predominant expression of Christianity for an up-and-coming generation of ‘next Christians’ and those of us who are counting on them.”
—Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today’s Board of Contributors and author of Onward Christian Athletes
“Gabe Lyons is a contemporary innovator who possesses relevant insight and profound foresight relative to Christ, culture, and the next generation of Christians. This must read book will inspire you and guide you to a new place of purposeful passion!”
—Charles Jenkins, senior pastor, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church
“The prophet Isaiah declared that God would do a new thing. In The Next Christians, Gabe Lyons frames the narrative of a new Christian movement emerging in our lifetime. While addressing the challenges before us, Gabe presents the facilitative platform for the followers of Jesus to reconcile righteousness with justice under a canopy of compassion and love. This book will challenge us to embrace change as we welcome a fresh move of God’s Spirit.”
—Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
“The Lord has given a great mind and incredible wisdom to Gabe Lyons to be able to speak with such clarity and such understanding of the times. You will be greatly blessed and will desire to turn the next page, only to come to the end and then wish to pass this book along to a good friend so that others can be as informed as you are.”
—Pastor Johnny Hunt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention
- The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Read an Excerpt
The Next ChristiansThe Good News About the End of Christian America
By Gabe Lyons
Doubleday ReligionCopyright © 2010 Gabe Lyons
All right reserved.
The World Is Changing
Shadows of the Past
Seven years ago, I was twenty-seven years old and embarrassed to call myself Christian. This was especially odd because I was raised in a Christian home, graduated from a Christian college, and then served as vice president of a prominent Christian organization. By all accounts, I should have been one of Christianity's biggest fans.
Unfortunately, I began to notice that the perceptions my friends and neighbors had about Christians were incredibly negative. In fact, their past experiences with anything labeled "Christian" had sent them running in the opposite direction. Ironically, I came to empathize with their views. Having grown up in a Christian bubble myself, I witnessed countless instances when the lives of Christ followers were incongruent with Jesus's call to be loving, engaged, sacrificial, unselfish, and compassionate contributors to culture. The angst these experiences created would scare anyone from taking a second look at Jesus.
I was deeply burdened by this trend and about the loss of Christian influence in our culture. So, with just a few months of savings in the bank and our second child on the way, my wife, Rebekah, and I decided I should quit my job and pursue a new vocation. We resolved to launch a nonprofit organization and make our first project the commissioning of research that would help us understand the perceptions that sixteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds have about Christians.
The study confirmed many of our fears about the negative perceptions I had experienced. An overwhelming percentage of non-Christians sampled said they perceived Christians as judgmental, hypocritical, too political, and antihomosexual, among other things.
In the truest sense, the research revealed what happens when Christians act unchristian. The study was released in a book by the same name. It soon became a bestseller, confirming that our findings resonated with the general public.
But it also exposed something bigger that has been going on. The Christian faith is quickly losing traction in Western culture, not only as a result of unchristian behavior, as significant as that is, but because we haven't recognized our new reality and adapted.
In years since, our nonprofit has convened rising Christian leaders at various locations across America to have conversations about what they see occurring in the Christian movement and how they are uniquely living out their faith. We began to ask important questions about the role Christians should play in society:
What does mission look like in America in the twenty-first century?
How should the message of the Gospel go forward?
What does it mean to be a Christian in a world that is disenchanted with our movement?
Every generation must ask these questions as they seek to confront the unique challenges of their own eras. In modern times, thinkers like Richard Niebuhr, C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Os Guinness, and Lesslie Newbigin have reflected on the relationship between Christians and culture in the twentieth century. Even now, a diverse group of future-thinking leaders are offering insight into how the next generation might navigate our current cultural waters.
Research shows that over 76 percent of Americans self-identify as Christian.1 Yet I wonder how many of us are proud to carry that label. Are we hiding our faith in our back pockets? My guess is that many feel much like I did at twenty-seven when they encounter non-Christians at work, in coffee shops, on campus, in their neighborhoods, at weekend parties, or working out at the gym. You may be dumbfounded that there are 76 percent of "us" and yet little unity in what we collectively represent.
After observing cultural trends, collecting data, and having hundreds of conversations with Christian leaders, I see a new way forward. There is a whole movement of Christians-evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Orthodox, Pentecostals, and others-asking these same questions and offering meaningful answers. They want to be a force for restoration in a broken world even as we proclaim the Christian Gospel. They want the label Christian to mean something good, intelligent, authentic, true, and beautiful.
During a gathering convened by our nonprofit, I was offered a rare invitation to visit the home of Billy Graham in nearby Montreat, North Carolina. Typically, it's best to keep an experience like that to yourself, where its magnitude will never tarnish, but I feel compelled to share it with you here because of the significance of what took place.
The slow ascent up the winding mountain driveway in Montreat mirrored my rising anticipation. Going to meet with this great evangelist in his storied log cabin home nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains didn't feel real-I was rapt with expectation.
The leaves were changing color and produced a kaleidoscope of hues-from green to brown, yellow, orange, and red-on the surrounding mountain faces. After passing through the entry gate protecting his mountaintop home, we were greeted by an older woman, a caretaker of sorts. That day, she had taken it upon herself to care for us as well. Her kind but weathered hands served up one of my favorites-chocolate chip cookies and an old-fashioned bottle of Coke. It felt surprisingly warm and hospitable, like a weekend trip to Grandma's house.
While waiting to be led back to Mr. Graham's study on this crisp autumn day in September, we sat in old rocking chairs on the back porch. (I later learned these chairs had been gifts from President Lyndon Johnson from his ranch in Texas.)
Taking in the picturesque view, I could understand why Montreat had been the place this man chose to call home for more than fifty years. The quiet, pastoral scene was splendid. With no other man-made structure in sight, it was an ideal place of respite for the family of a world figure. The simplicity of his log cabin, meadowlike backyard, well-worn antique furniture, and pictures of family and friends playing together gave me a glimpse into this beloved saint's humanity.
I couldn't help considering the countless accolades assigned to his life. He had audience with the world's most powerful leaders, providing spiritual counsel to seven U.S. presidents. His generous tone and compelling life have marked everyone who's known him. He shaped our world very personally by leading tens of millions of everyday people to Christ. Having traveled the world many times over, the eighty-nine-year-old evangelist had witnessed what God was up to in the world. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to converse with one of the most sought-after, respected, and revered leaders of the twentieth century. Our time together didn't disappoint.
As we walked back to his study, his companions-five dogs that kept him company day and night-greeted us. Though his body was undeniably old, his mind was sharp. Hearing had become a chore for him, so we raised our voices to introduce ourselves. I sat down in front of Mr. Graham in a chair whose previous occupants included world leaders, famous entertainers, and-just two weeks prior-a presidential candidate hoping to gain his support.
I came prepared to learn. I had no intention of saying much, planning instead to glean his wisdom. For what must have been thirty minutes or so, I quietly listened until I finally gained the courage to speak.
I carefully explained our work to educate and expose church and cultural leaders to the changes in our world, and more important, what opportunities lay ahead. Mr. Graham seemed genuinely curious to hear about what we do. I continued by telling him about some of the leaders our organization convened regularly, innovators within every sphere of society. From the arts to medicine and education, I explained that they were young and the best at what they did. I described how these leaders were leveraging their talent for the benefit of others-creating microfinance banks that were lending hundreds of millions of dollars to the poor, building wells throughout the third world, developing media campaigns to increase awareness about adoption, and so forth-and were serious about restoring culture. I had a hunch that these remarkably likeminded individuals were the next wave of Christians in the world, but I wanted to know if he agreed.
He reflected on everything I had been sharing with him before a smile walked the sides of his face. "Back when we did these big, large crusades in football stadiums and arenas, the Holy Spirit was really moving-and people were coming to Christ by hearing the Word of God preached," the evangelist said. "But today, I sense something different is happening. I see evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in a new way. He's moving through people where they work and through one-on-one relationships to accomplish great things. They are demonstrating God's love to those around them, not just with words, but in deed."
As he spoke, something began to crystallize inside me. It was as if all the observations I'd collected over a decade were being summed up in the sage words of this iconic figure. He had seen the best of what twentieth-century Christianity had to offer, yet was in tune with something new.
I left Montreat with a quiet confidence that day-not only because I had been in the presence of a great and godly man, but also because he had confirmed in succinct terms the things I'd been observing. Reflecting on his words challenged me to continue cultivating this mind-set throughout the body of believers across our developing landscape.
Not long after my conversation with Graham, Rebekah and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with a trip to Europe. Since it was the off season, we were braced for the wet, dreary weather typical of London and Paris at that time of year. However, to our amazement, the region experienced a run of the warmest days on their calendar in a century. Instead of being wet, bundled up, and longing for the warmth of the cozy Hôtel du Louvre, we enjoyed long walks in the cool breeze-wearing sweaters and scarves, leaving the coats behind. It was enchanting. The architecture, museums, and cafés were brimming with energy. Experiencing millennium-old culture that was still full of life refreshed my soul.
One portion of our travels that I was particularly excited about was our rail trip from London to Paris on the famed EuroStar. I had read about its top speeds of 190 miles per hour as it glides under the English Channel and through the French countryside en route to Paris's Gare du Nord. When we boarded the train, I knew we were in for a great experience.
As I leaned back in my seat, the headrest curved perfectly around my neck-like an apparatus designed for intense flight, somehow befitting such a modernized tour of these storied countries. The ride across Britain was routine and somewhat metropolitan. Then as the train entered the Channel Tunnel, it picked up speed. The blur of lights gave the impression of flying through space. By the time we emerged in France, I felt transported. Leaning back in my seat, I stared out at the countryside as it sped past me like an abbreviated survey of French history. I'd flown over this landscape at high speed before, but never through it.
The foreground was an imperceptible blur of vegetation broken only by the occasional buildings and bridges. My eyes were drawn to the horizon as a steady succession of towns and villages rose into view along the way. We passed through Calais, then Lille, as we made our way toward Paris.
A pattern seemed to be emerging. In each community I saw a town center surrounded by trees and an occasional cottage. And at the heart of every town I could see a church steeple appear among the treetops and above the storefronts. It was consistent with what I knew of ancient urban architecture, that the steeple was designed to be the tallest structure in a city, representing the sacred belief that the church should be the closest point between heaven and earth, God and humanity.
Miles apart, those communities now seemed lined up almost side by side, as if to make a collective statement for my observation: The church used to occupy the center of culture in the West. For a brief moment, I reminisced about what once was. Not too long ago, children would frequent their church for much-needed education and moral training. In this prime location, new families were welcomed to town and volunteer needs were addressed before singing and prayer meetings would resume. Houses of worship were also places of great artistic and musical innovation. Many of history's greatest creative minds birthed their monolithic works within these hallowed confines.
Indeed, where the church in Europe once held a place of significant influence, by the end of the twentieth century it was almost completely irrelevant.2 Even the design of their communities bore evidence to it. The steeples that once stood for spiritual enlightenment have been reduced to minor tourist attractions. They better serve the needs of visiting amateur photographers than the lost souls of the people in their own communities.
Some culture watchers say that when we survey the contours of Europe's religious landscape, we are staring America's future in the face. While there is no way to verify these predictions, from my experience and all the evidence I've collected surrounding the church and citizens of our country, America isn't far behind.
What began as a creeping intuition that led me to launch a new organization had become a nagging reality that significant changes were under way. My trip to Europe and Montreat seemed to represent the two ends of our current situation. In Montreat, I met with a vanguard from Christianity's past who recognizes how the faith is presently shifting. In Europe, I seemingly caught a glimpse of America's more secular future. Positioned between these poles was the empirical research we had commissioned and the hundreds of conversations with a new generation of Christian leaders. Each situation echoed the sentiment that many Christians have lost confidence in their faith. Our movement, as a whole, was quickly declining in the West.
I believe this moment is unlike any other time in history. Its uniqueness demands an original response. If we fail to offer a different way forward, we risk losing entire generations to apathy and cynicism. Our friends will continue to drift away, meeting their need for spiritual transcendence through other forms of worship and communities of faith that may be less true but more authentic and appealing.
Maybe you know someone like my friend Dan. He grew up around the church and considers himself a Christian. At the age of thirty-four, he finds himself at the center of huge international business deals. Dan's a rainmaker type, and when his complex transactions are successful, they can raise the GDP of entire nations! But as we were catching up on our lives that day, he dropped a bomb on me. He said, "I hope this won't shock you, but I don't call myself a Christian anymore. I follow Christ as faithfully as I can, but I don't ever want to be associated with what that word, or that 'brand,' has come to represent in the world."
Excerpted from The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons Copyright © 2010 by Gabe Lyons. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday Religion, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Gabe Lyons was at the top of the Christian food chain several years ago. He was a graduate of Liberty University, Vice President of a prominent Christian organization, and co-founder of Catalyst, the nation’s largest gathering of young Christian leaders. There was only one problem: he was embarrassed to be called Christian. So Lyons set out on a personal journey, leaving his comfortable job to found Q (qideas.org), a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common good. He also commissioned stunning research, which became the basis of his landmark book, UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity and Why It Matters. As a respected voice for a new generation of Christians, he has been featured by CNN, The New York Times, Newsweek, and USA Today. Gabe, his wife Rebekah, and their three children live in New York City.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Have you grown up in the church and want to see it succeed in the years to come? Have you been hurt by the church or people who call themselves Christian? Are you tired of searching for a faith community, but only finding worship and churches that seem to be out of touch? Have you ever had a conversation about the future of the church and someone said "we just need more technology and guitars to get young people to come?" If you answered yes to any of these questions then it would do you well to pick up a copy of Gabe Lyons book The Next Christians. Pretty much read this unless you think that the church is perfect and doesn't need to change a thing. I received my free copy of Lyons' book The Next Christians in late January from Water Brook Multnomah Publishing Group. Because of work being crazy I haven't been able to get the review out as soon as I would have liked, but also it took longer than expected to read the book because it was packed with great stuff. In the text Lyons looks at some of the traditional ways that Christians have addressed the tension between living a life of faith and the stumbling blocks that society places in front of us. Lyons outlines two main schools of thinking when it comes to this topic. There are the "Separatists" who distance themselves from society. I feel like this group has a very "us" vs "them" view of the world. This insider/outsider view is not at all helpful in sharing the Good News because the mentality to some degree is that I am saved and it would be nice if you were too. The second group are the "blenders." The blenders engage culture and blend into it. The danger here is that theology and beliefs get sacrificed and watered down because of the blending. I would say that this is where many young people would place themselves after reading the work of Christian Smith (Soul Searching) and Kenda Creasy Dean (Almost Christian). Lyons then proposes that both views fall short and then says that there is a third way that is emerging. The Next Christians are Restorers. This group works hard at restoring the church back to what it was meant to be. Throughout the years the church may have lost its way and has been missing the mark. This new group understands that faith in action and service is essential to restoring the church. Lyons takes a good chunk of the latter part of the book to give real examples of restorers in action. From my perspective as a Methodist pastor this new way would make John Wesley proud. He said that "there is no holiness apart form social and personal holiness." As a practical theologian I feel like John would have fit right in with the restorers. Well, that's enough from me about the book. Go and get a copy
I am immediately drawn to a book by its title. So, when I saw The Next Christians; The Good News About the End of Christian America by Gabe Lyons, I had to know what he meant by that. Lyons' previous work, UnChristian which took a look at the conducts and actions that turned people away from the Christian faith is referenced several times in this book. It seems this book is the outflow of the previous work, whether that was the author's intention or not. Lyons begins his book by examining the decline of Christianity in America by taking a look at the present reality that Christianity is losing its influence, respect, and strength in America. In a sometimes pessimistic tone, he puts forth categories that Christians have placed themselves into (Insiders, Culture-Warriors, Evangelizers, Blenders, and Philanthropists). The second half of the book was much better than the first and carried a much more positive tone. Lyons speaks of the shift in the next generation of Christians from a faith that polarizes and pushes people away to a generation of Christians who are committed to the concept of restoration. He says this new generation of Christians will portray similar characteristics. These new Christians will be Provoked - not offended, Creators - not critics, Called - not employed, Grounded - not distracted, In Community - not alone, and Countercultural - not relevant. This section is by far the best part of the book. I am glad I stayed with it. The Next Christians is a helpful and insightful look into what the Christian faith was intended to reflect in this world.
Lyons presents a view of christianity that young christians can be proud of. His insights into modern American perspectives are refreshing. Rarely do you find christian leaders who value knowledge outside the walls of the seminary. Lyons connects research with practice. He presents a case for a new perspective of how christians can interact with the world without perpetuating the negative stigma of the "christian" label. This is a must read for anyone who recognizes the flaws of the separatist culture many "in the world but not of the world" christians advocate. There is a better way to engage the world with a christian mindset. Lyons uses biblical doctrine and sociology to demonstrate how the next generation of christians fully understand thier place in the world.
Book Title: "The Next Christians” Author: Gabe Lyons Published By: Multnomah Age Recommended: 17+ Reviewed By: Kitty Bullard Raven Rating: 4.5 Review: This book brings a necessary hope to Christians and gives a brighter outlook for future generations. The author writes in such a way that you don’t feel as though you are being preached at. He shares his vision in an insightful and approachable way that makes this book a genuinely great read. Christians that feel there is no hope for their religion left or for the love of God, should definitely get a copy of Gabe’s book.
Started this book and thought, I don't agree with this book. But I kept reading & they explain why the think the way they do & it started making sense. Really made me think about the way I evengalize to young people.
When I learned this author was the same guy who wrote "unchristian" I was very excited to able to read his follow-up book. I was expecting a great book that demonstrated who the Christians of the future will be and also how the 18-35 crowd fits into the New Christianity. This book falls flat and is slow, a bit boring, drags on, and never gives a good view of the future for Christianity. It's like the author had enough material for a short 5 page paper and he blew it into a book to make some dough. I was quite disappointed. This book goes into who the author thinks are the Next Christians. (Well, if he's right, I think, Christianity is in for more bad news, because I think this author misses the mark on this one). The author thinks the Next Christians are those who don't pull away from the world and live in a Christian-only world (like listening to Christian music only, no smoking, no tattoos, Christian-school, Christian-t-shirts) and don't lose themselves in the world as Cultural Christians (adopting the world's ways) but the New Christians are those who seek to restore the world to the beauty of the Garden of Eden and engage the world with beauty, grace and love. He defines the New Christian Restorers as having 6 characteristics: Being provoked, not offended; being creators, not critics; being called, not employed; being grounded, not distracted; being in community, not alone; being countercultural, not "relevant". I disagree with this author. Being one of the 18-35, I feel like I understand very closely what my fellow 18-35ers are feeling and believing. I see Christianity moving away from organized religion and its human power struggles and corruption and towards a personal spiritual relationship with God. More and more Christians are ashamed of being called "Christian" and we are instead adopting the label "Spiritual" in preference because we can't stand to be associated with those judgmental hypocrites we meet at church. We are staying home and still very willing to be friends with and help our fellow non-Christians. I was disappointed with the author's conclusions and also that he wasted 6 boring chapters going into each of the 6 characteristics that he defines New Christians as holding. I believe the 18-35ers want to KNOW GOD above all else and want that spiritual relationship and everything else is just salad dressing. :) I won't say the book was bad, because there is a place for this material, it's just not very inspiration or all THAT educational. I think most Christians could skip this book and do much better reading Skye Jethani's book "With" about living WITH God in a personal relationship, rather than living FOR God (achieving great deeds in God's name to give you self-importance). Also books by Frank Viola are very good for understanding why the new Christian generation cannot stand Christians. Also the book: "Why Men Hate Church" would be helpful for anyone interested in this subject matter. I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for this review but I did really give my hones
Incisive, reflective; this book made me think and re-think my pre-set notions of what I believe about Christianity and how I live it out. Gabe Lyons gives a big-picture view of Christianity in America today based on research, surveys, and thoughtful analysis. What I like most about it is its non-offensive tone: while the truth might not necessarily be pretty, Lyons paints it honestly and somehow manages not to make it seem like an attack or accusation. Maybe it's because he presents it logically and writes as though he's half-musing, half-discovering as he goes along, as if you're putting the pieces together at the same pace. Best of all, the book points to the evidence of God at work in our world today, to the hope that He's changing it in ways we never would've thought possible, and to the invitation He gives us to join Him in His work.
I'm a big nerd when it comes to information. I like to hear how statistics tell us what's happening in our society, and I like to read about how we can learn from that data. I really enjoyed the book "UnChristian" because it had great information for both the nerdy and non-nerdy alike. This follow-up, "The Next Christians," was a bit more difficult to get through. Hearing more about the positive directions that Christianity is moving was a welcome relief as I combed through Lyons' illustrations of what a new Christianity can look like through the loving actions of a caring people was great. Some of the angles and excerpts were not all that new material--which isn't a bad thing for a book, but it wasn't what I expected. While "The Next Christians" wasn't a refreshing wave of news, it was a solid experience in seeing what's working and what isn't among people in the world who think religion and faith has nothing to offer them. Go ahead and order the large latte when you settle in to read this one because you will find yourself wrapped up longer than you plan to be. Please note I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Every now and then a book comes along that every Christian should read. This is one of those books. Gabe Lyons does an outstanding job of showing us how a new generation (the Next Christians) are restoring the faith of Christianity in America. Gabe lays a great foundation of where the Church is in America and what Americans think of the Church. He then breaks down Christians into one of two groups and further divides them into subgroups. He is spot-on with this assessment of these two groups. He then goes on to show us how to become a part of a third group -- the Restorers. The remainder of the book explores how the Restorers are on a mission to bring the good news of Jesus Christ back into the forefront of culture but in a way that is refreshing, innovative and . . . . actually working! The Church in America is messed up and broken. It needs fixed. It needs to get back to the total message of God's redemption, not just one or two aspects of it. The Next Christians shows how that we can engage the culture around us without putting people off with our "religiosity" that so many Christians come off with. We must face the fact that America is not a predominant Christian nation. We are facing the fact that our young people are leaving the Church in large numbers. The American Church isn't (and hasn't been) doing our job of representing God well in nation today. We must change and this book is a refreshing wind of fresh air on what we can do to become a predominant voice in our nation again. The Church can make a difference again in America....if we will rightly assess where we are, where we have gotten off track and how to get where we need to go. *The Next Christians* is a great roadmap for accomplishing that. Well written, an easy read, and very thought-provoking. A must read for every Christian serious about reaching people. (This book was provided to me free of charge by Waterbrook Publishing for my honest review and comments. All comments are mine.)
I think Gabe Lyons book "The Next Christians" gives people a profound insight into the next generations of Christians. For so long the church has only been preaching a small part of the story that focuses only on the fall and redemption. The full story, however, is the also contains creation and restoration. This book shows that there is hope for the future in term of the church becoming the healing community God desired from the beginning. I love especially his chapter on being grounded. I think ever young person, teenage and college age should take notes on this chapter because I think this is one reason why so many fall from the faith-they are not grounded. This book also made me want to read the book UnChristian which was a book Lyons co-authored that was sort of a precursor to this book. This book I think right along with books like David Platt's "Radical" every Christian should read as we prepare for the next age.
"Gabe Lyons was at the top of the Christian food chain several years ago. A graduate of Liberty University, he was vice president of a prominent Christian organization and cofounder of Catalyst, the nation's largest gathering of young Christian leaders. There was only one problem: he was embarrassed to be called 'Christian.'.He also commissioned stunning research, which became the basis of his landmark book, UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity and Why It Matters." Lyons has been featured by CNN, the New York Times, Newsweek, and USA Today. Lyons seems to smack and shake up all Christians and Christian organizations so they will understand the severity of the "Christian" world as we might think it is. He spends ample time drawing from his previous book and research findings to make it clear to Christians that the "West" is certainly not a Christian nation. This is clearly evident with a look at the culture in which we live. Little about our culture could be called Christian. He summarizes Christians into two categories when talking about how they deal with culture: Separatists and Cultural. Separatist are primarily those who criticize and judge the culture and withdraw themselves from culture altogether. These Christians have only created gaps and more isolation from the people Jesus intended to reach. Cultural Christians are primarily those who get involved in outreach projects such as soup kitchens or weekend warrior kinds of service. These latter Christians feel that they are being in the culture and are trying to be relevant, but never bring the full saving power of Jesus' restoration for the culture. Both have created this problem and are losing the battle of Christians and culture. His alternative category are those he calls Restorative Christians. His solution is to understand the fullest sense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is to bring restoration to all people and the earth to a pre-Fall state of creation, the way God first designed it. "Instead of simply waiting for God to unveil the new heaven and the new earth, the rest of us can give the world a taste of what God's kingdom is all about - building up, repairing brokenness, showing mercy, reinstating hope, and generally adding value." Lyons spend most of the book sharing story after story of people who have done just that. People who have changed the culture of music, the arts, business, education, government and injustices from the inside of where these cultural problems occur. Rather than merely serving those affected by these cultural hurts, they jump head in and go to the deeper level to influence and see change happen in those channels of culture directly. The tendency of this book is to see a call to stand up for the common good of humanity and the earth without ever sharing the Jesus-Christ-forgiver-of-our-sins-Gospel. Only towards the end of the book does Gabe seem to head that tendency head on. Thankfully, he did recognize and address that tendency. In fact, I enjoyed his sections on what a Christian needs to make sure they put into their life if they are going to tackle such a calling. That Christian must develop good spiritual disciplines and be constantly a part of a community of faith. "Acting on this 'restoration' perspective can create the dangerous potential to be drawn in, to participate in the very evil Christians are so passionate to renounce. Christians must not neglect their ow
The Next Christians could almost be the sequel to Gabe Lyons coauthored work Unchristian. While Unchristian left me unsatisfied with nothing more than humbling numbers and statistics about the dismal state of Christianity, The Next Christians seems to provide not only an interpretation to the downfall of Christian America, but also a response. Lyons sees the end of Christian America as a positive change. Too long Christians have either decided to become separatists in culture by making their own sports leagues, music, and books, or they have blended too much into mainstream culture looking no different than the rest of the world. Lyons sees many Christians now adopting a new attitude, one that is more reflective of the gospels. "The Next Christians," as Lyons calls them, are not separatists or blenders they are restorers. Jesus came to earth to restore the purpose and calling of humanity, and those who follow him are called to practice the same restorative behavior. Jesus engaged with those he was seeking to restore, his hope was that true intimate relationships with others would cause his holiness to rub off on others. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection were not only for forgiveness, but also for redemption. Lyons does a wonderful job of bringing out the true purpose of Jesus and his followers. The Christian faith is one that identifies brokenness in themselves, others, and the world around them and then looks to restore the person or world to its created purpose. The Next Christian is a book not just for confessors of Jesus, but for anyone who has looked at the world and came to the conclusion that it needs to be restored. A free copy of this book was provided to me by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for review purposes.
This book should be required reading for every church staff in America. Insightful, challenging, and eye opening. It's not about numbers or size, it's about changed lives.
Lyons latest offering, THE NEXT CHRISTIANS: HOW A NEW GENERATION IS RESTORING THE FAITH seems a logical sequel.  This book examines who Christians are perceived to be, and what a hypothetical new generation of Christians would look like were they to shatter the status quo. First the points of agreement.  Christian America is on it's way out, at least according to the trend.  At best we are still, or becoming more so the "Silent Majority."  There is not much room for Christian ideals in the politically correct arena which contains, well everything.  Some might argue that the term "politically correct" is actually "anti-Christian."  Regardless, Christianity is no longer the default.  People are viewing Christians with more and more vitriol. In this book, Lyons addresses this truth head on and explains that the "next Christians" will no longer fit the stereotype. They will live out the entirety of God's story.  The author insists that the standard issue evangelical today focus only on the cross, while giving no credence to the creation.  They view salvation as an alternative to hell rather than the restoration of what was lost when man fell in the garden.  He calls the next Christians "restorers." Gabe Lyons calls on the next Christians to change the world.  To always be creating a positive.  To not live life inside a Christian bubble, but out there with the rest of the world.  To do life in community with everyone regardless of faith.  What can we be doing to help, to restore? I agree that the church needs to barbecue a few sacred cows.  I found myself chuckling when Lyons poked fun at the Christian t-shirt crowd, inferring that no one was ever lead to Christ because your t-shirt judged them. I wonder if the author might have gone too far down a path paved with good intentions.  He takes a troubling stance on the "gay movement" for example.  Multiple pages are devoted to outlining the success of the gay movement's campaign to take America's view of homosexuality from disapproval to "hey, why not?"  To be fair, Lyons does not openly embrace homosexuality and even states, "I'm not suggesting we celebrate the rise of the gay movement.  Perhaps you're offended that I've even used it as an illustration." What is troubling is he leaves the reader feeling that he is not at all opposed to some of the information he references.  Such as "Within the cultural channel of the church, major denominations like the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ opened leadership roles for gays and lesbians." Gabe Lyons points out some very valid points in this book. Things we as the church universal are doing wrong.  Things we should be doing but we are not.  He calls us to restore, to love, to pray, read scripture, and observe a sabbath.  Amen brother.  I feel though he is perhaps too "progressive" in some ways however.  I do not believe he places enough importance on salvation.  I also believe the church must take a clear stand on some issues, amoung them abortion and the same gay movement Lyons calls "fun and engaging." Should we love those we disagree with? Yes.  Serve them?  In any way we can.  The way Jesus would, without judgement.  One sinner to the next.  We must remem
THE NEXT CHRISTIANS By Gabe Lyons For quite some time now, I had known that the nominal church "ain't what it used to be." There has not been an 'outpouring' of God's presence like the Welsh Revival and Azuza Street. The focal question in my mind was, "Is the church really dead?" Gabe Lyons answers that question in his book The Next Christians. As you read the book, you will find that the answer is both 'yes' and 'no.' Church as we grew up with has lost a lot of its impetus. However, Gabe brings out in his book that there are a lot of Christians that have taken a new approach to soul-winning. And, in so doing, the church, or should I say the 'Body of Christ' is actually very alive and very productive. The Next Christians defines a grass-roots movement of individuals that, more or less, call themselves 'Restorers.' They're main desire is to bring back relevance to the idea of a life changed and challenged by Jesus Christ. Gabe tells how these 'Restorers' think and act 'outside of the box' as bring a loving Jesus in touch with a hurting world. 'Restorers' are not bound by the traditional church manner of reaching the lost. For example, in chapter five, 'Provoked, Not Offended,' he quotes Michael Metzger, "When confronted with the corruption of our world-Christians ought to be provoked to engage, not offended and withdrawn." For example, he tells how his friend Mike created an organization to invade the adult entertainment field. These 'Restorers' invaded the world's largest porn event in Las Vegas. They handed out free Bibles with covers that read "Jesus Loves Porn Stars." This book is full of examples of the 'behind the scenes' actions that these 'Restorers' are engaged in. I was highly encouraged by this book. It was a hard one for me to put down. As you read this book, you will be challenged to look outside of your own Jesus box to find new ways to reach the lost. It has changed my perspective on soul-winning. I was furnished a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
"The Good News about the End of Christian America." This is what readers see above the title of Gabe Lyon's book, The Next Christians. I first thought this was a bold and intriguing statement. I was almost offended. The end of American Christianity is good news? I will not lie, I was skeptical about this book by just reading the cover and looking at the table of contents. On the surface, the book seems to be about changing Christianity. However, my skepticism turned into belief as I read. This book is not about changing our faith, but restoring it. Gabe Lyons shows readers the new way God is using his people to build the church today. He writes about the ways that Christians are beginning to engage the culture. The Next Christians are described as: Provoked, Not Offended Creators, Not Critics Called, Not Employed Grounded, Not Distracted In Community, Not Alone Countercultural, Not "Relevant" There is a chapter for each of these characteristics in which Lyons explains what it means and gives examples of real people. As I was reading these chapters, excitement came over me. I was inspired and encouraged by the things that God's people are doing around the world. It looks like a movement that will spread like never before. Gabe Lyons holds this movement as equal to the Protestant Reformation. Christianity will never change, but the modes and methods by which it is made manifest does. One thing that I loved about the book was the repetition to keep the Gospel central to how we do God's work in the world. Lyons says that we must be telling people that they are God's creation, made in his image and that Christ came to save us from sin so that we can join back with him in the restoration of all his creation. Now that I have finished the book, I am propelled to join up with God in what he is doing in our world. Hopefully this book will inspire you in the same way.
Gabe Lyons is one of the cofounders of the national conference "Catalyst" and the co-author of the Christian bestseller unChristian. He has become something of a spokesperson for the post-emerging evangelicals that he calls The Next Christians in the book of the same name. I am not sure what I expected from Lyons' book. For one thing, I had no idea who he was - which reveals just how out of touch I have become, although the jury is still out on whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. I suppose that I expected something along the lines of an evangelical attempt at being Brian McLaren. Lyons delivers a varied narrative of the lives and ministries of a number of young evangelicals who have chosen to transform the world through compassion and through recognizing that God has placed them where they are for a reason. Where are they? In drug houses, in Hollywood, in distinctly "unChristian" settings. And if you don't see that right away, just wait until the next chapter because he will remind you - time and time again. In all seriousness, Lyons does overdo things a bit. The Next Christians is a parade of stories too similar for me to differentiate, and I found myself getting confused as to whom he was referring to at any one time. In my opinion, a slightly closer and more disciplined editing would have made this book a much better work. Don't approach The Next Christians as if it will necessarily present you with a lot of new information. It is far from the best introduction to the theme of the younger evangelicals (Robert Webber's book The Younger Evangelicals does a much better job at that), but it is a good collection of stories worth telling if for no other reason than I think they foreshadow good things to come for the Church at large. I received a free copy of The Next Christians from Waterbrook Multnomah and was not compensated in any way for this review.
My latest review for Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group is "The Next Christians The Good News About the End of Christian America" by Gabe Lyons. The book teaches how to be engaged, modern Christians. It's an optimistic outlook into the future of Christianity. I like how the book explains the different types of Christians, mainly separatists, cultural and restorers. I've always resonated with the restorer type, but I never knew there where others with the same view (Considering, I live the South where most Christians are separatists). Lyons explains that we need to become engaged Christians for Christianity to prosper. An engaged spiritualist, according to Wikipedia, is a religious and/or spiritual person who actively engages in the world, in order to transform it, in positive ways while finding nurturing, inspiration and guidance in their spiritual beliefs and practices. The term was inspired by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, states Wikipedia. Thich Nhat Hanh is widely known in the Buddhist community for his efforts in connecting Buddhism and Christianity with his book, "Living Buddha, Living Christ" (A very good book I might add.). Gabe Lyons seems to lead Christianity in that same direction. He reiterates in the book a speech by Max Kampelman, a Jewish conscientious during WWI, who stresses, "But when we see the world in terms of how things ought to be we can dream for the impossible-and work to see it become reality." I was deeply inspired by the book. It gives a modern plan on how to restore faith to our country and, ultimately, the world. We can all get back to the basics of Jesus's calling to be loving, engaged, sacrificial, unselfish, and compassionate contributers to culture with the help of this book.