What does the future hold for the Christian faith and the church in America and beyond? Gabe Lyons not only says it is filled with hope, he lays out why in The Next Christians. The book is intended for Christians who wonder how can the faith be proclaimed and lived out in the next generation. More then doom and gloom for the future, Gabe Lyons gives help and hope so that no matter your age you can leverage your life for Jesus today.
Part I deals with how the world is changing, and sets up the need and the value of Part II “The Restorers”. As Gabe says, “The next Christians believe that Christ’s death and Resurrection were not only meant to save people from something. He wanted to save Christians to something. God longs to restore his image in them, and let them loose, freeing them to pursue his original dreams for the entire world.” He then lays out 7 ways you can live the gospel and restore the world.
1. Provoked, Not Offended.
The next Christians are provoked, that is engaged with their community. Pharisees are reactive. Next Christian restorers are proactive. They bring Jesus into the community. They do so with courage over comfort, grace over judgement, and so much more.
2. Creators, Not Critics.
To restore is create something new. The Next Christians not only show up, they do, they create culture and inspire change. Such culture creation celebrates beauty, affirms goodness, tells the truth and serves.
3. Called, Not Employed.
Next Christians don’t serve at jobs, they work at vocation. Gabe identifies 7 channels of cultural influence that need the call of next Christians to answer: Media, Education, Business, Government, Social Sector, Church (yes, church), and Arts and Entertainment. Too often we speak of only pastors and teachers being called. I like the reminder all Christians are called to engage in culture, and the need in these 7 sectors to make an impact. Next Christians redeem the sense of vocation and calling, and the result is they find purpose and transform lives.
4. Grounded, Not Distracted.
The temptation of being engaged in the community and the culture is to get caught up in its ways. Next Christians engage out of a grounded relationship with Jesus. Gabe identifies 5 practices: Immersed in Scripture, Observing the Sabbath, Fasting for Simplicity, Choosing Embodiment (going face to face more then going to Facebook), and Postured by Prayer. Christians of all ages will find such practices valuable.
5. In Community, Not Alone.
In America we pride ourselves on our individualism, next Christians create and crave community. Relational intimacy is vital for growth. The quote that grabbed me is of Richard Florida, “the question of ‘where will I live?’ should be of no less important then ‘Who will I marry?’ or ‘What career will I pursue?'” The goal is not merely that I serve, but that we serve together.
6. Civil, Not Divisive.
This chapter is not in the hardcover version of the book from 2010. The challenge is learning to dialogue. Jesus mastered this with his enemies, we have missed this with our “friends” and our enemies. Sharing the faith is not putting others down, it is lifting God up and listening to the needs of others. We are quick to affirm Jesus reaching out to sinners in the Bible, but slow in our day. Not the next Christians. His examples of the NYC imman and the 2011 Global Leadership Summit and Bill Hybels dealing with Starbucks’ Howard Schultz last minute withdrawal to speak. I attended a simulcast of the Summit and was moved by the graciousness of Bill Hybels in response. Hybels could have enforced a contract instead he epitomized grace and taught us a leadership lesson of dealing with critics and condemnation, by being civil, not divisive.
7. Countercultural, Not “Relevant”.
Jesus calls it in the world, not of the world. Gabe writes, “In contrast to countercultures that separate, antagonize, or copy the culture, the next Christians are a counterculture for the common good that is centered and immoveable.” This leads to trusting the Holy Spirit in bold leadership.
Part III of The Next Christians looks at the next big shift. Recover the Gospel. Restore lives. People get saved. Throughout the book there are not merely principles and theories to follow. There are examples of positive application and even more the resulting transformation of culture and community and most of all lives for Christ.
I give The Next Christians 5 out of 5 stars. That was true when I read the hardback version in 2010, now even more with the “Civil, not Divisive” chapter added. Those wanting to go deeper can go to http://www.nextchristians.com/enhanced to learn more about Gabe, see video content and read interviews. Want to check out chapter 1? Click here.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review through their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to give a positive review.