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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 ma 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.


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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 ma 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.

30 review for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    I usually avoid books like this or if I read them I don't like them. The reason is that they often make a caricature of 'old forms' of trying to live faithfully to the gospel and posit that everything good that is happening with Christians and culture are the result of new trends (often with a 'generational component' attached). And yes, Gabe Lyon is pretty well guilty of dismissing old school Christians who are either separatists or indistinguishable from the wider culture. The new movement, he I usually avoid books like this or if I read them I don't like them. The reason is that they often make a caricature of 'old forms' of trying to live faithfully to the gospel and posit that everything good that is happening with Christians and culture are the result of new trends (often with a 'generational component' attached). And yes, Gabe Lyon is pretty well guilty of dismissing old school Christians who are either separatists or indistinguishable from the wider culture. The new movement, he sees, is restoration and identifies a ground swell with a whole new way of interacting with culture. Thankfully he doesn't repeat the tired pop-sociological analysis where he argues that millennials are somehow less fallen than the previous generations (despite the cover's tagline: "How a New Generation is Restoring the Faith"). As a whole I really liked this book because I resonate with the trends he describes. Is he always fair in describing 'seperatist' Christians or 'cultural blenders'? Probably not, but by trying to shine a light on a third way Christians are navigating culture, he ends up having some good things to say. According to Lyons, the Restorers are: Provoked, not offended, Creators, not critics, Called, not employed, Grounded, not distracted, In community, not alone and counter-cultural, not "relevant." In terms of analysis of the wider Christian culture, I don't think that this book is very insightful. But I enjoyed how Lyons shone a light on some of the 'new' ways he sees how people are trying to live lives faithful to Christ within our culture. I do think that some of the 'trends' are over stated and not as new as he said, or as widespread. In any age, it is easy to point at the innovators. But by all means, point me to the innovators.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cassidy Hastings

    This one took me a while to get through. While I'm not normally a quick reader anyway, I found myself processing A LOT while reading this book. It's not one that I would suggest rushing through if you are a fast reader. In it he describes what he calls "Next Christians," followers of Jesus who walk the line between separating from culture and blending with culture. He uses the title "Restorers" interchangeably and gives many different examples of how these believers are actively engaging differen This one took me a while to get through. While I'm not normally a quick reader anyway, I found myself processing A LOT while reading this book. It's not one that I would suggest rushing through if you are a fast reader. In it he describes what he calls "Next Christians," followers of Jesus who walk the line between separating from culture and blending with culture. He uses the title "Restorers" interchangeably and gives many different examples of how these believers are actively engaging different "channels" of culture by living out the Gospel in their specific areas of passion. What I love so much about this book is that it starts (and ends) talking about the importance of understanding the Gospel in its full context and seeing Christianity as a worldview. Understanding that the Biblical narrative answers the major worldview questions that are deep in every single person has dramatic ramifications for daily life. Lyons gives numerous stories to illustrate what this "Gospel-centered cultural engagement" looks like. He paints a picture of what it looks like to "be the church" in the world. His ultimate message is one of hope and purpose in the midst of what many see as an increasing gap between the church and the rest of society. There is a danger in reading this book without viewing it through the "Christianity as a worldview" lens. As previously mentioned, Lyons gives many examples of how the "Next Christians" are living out their faith, and there can be a temptation to think the answer for the reader is to copy these behaviors or add numerous ministries/programs to the institutional church to accomplish the same things these Restorers are doing. Instead, he is explaining the impact that understanding the Gospel has once people grasp it and uses these accounts to illustrate certain characteristics that are common among these Restorers. (Each chapter in Part II goes into more detail on some of these common characteristics.) When viewed this way, the examples become exciting and inspire creativity rather than becoming overwhelming, leading to legalism. Overall, I found this book eloquently articulating things I've been thinking about and trying to express for a while! I did not find that he was "bashing" the church but suggesting there is a better way for us to be "in, but not of" this world. I highly recommend this book, especially to those Christians who may shy away from their faith due to the stigma & baggage the term "Christian" has. I join with Lyons in the hopeful look towards the future and am excited to work where God has me to communicate the impact that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has, not only on our relationship with God, but also on our relationship with ourselves, others, and our environment.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul Frank Spencer

    This book had some good research and cultural observations, as well as a pretty comprehensive introduction to bare bones orthodox Christianity. Honestly, I feel that Lyons is probably better informed than most culture commentators to tackle these issues. But from his anecdotes and examples, he was able to draw much more optimism than I can. I hope he's right. I hope the next Christians will revolutionize our world. I would love to be a part of it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dana Friesen

    Before I get into my response to this audio book, I thought it might help you to know the angle I'm coming from: Firstly, I'm not a trained theologian or minister or an expert in ecclesiology (theology of the Church). But I guess you could call me a hobbyist, and my interest in these things is sincere, so by all means, speak up and share your ideas about this stuff, whatever they might be. :-)[return][return]Secondly, as a pastor's kid I've heard of revivals, scandals, trends and dangers within Before I get into my response to this audio book, I thought it might help you to know the angle I'm coming from: Firstly, I'm not a trained theologian or minister or an expert in ecclesiology (theology of the Church). But I guess you could call me a hobbyist, and my interest in these things is sincere, so by all means, speak up and share your ideas about this stuff, whatever they might be. :-)[return][return]Secondly, as a pastor's kid I've heard of revivals, scandals, trends and dangers within Christendom for more than 20 years. So I have to admit, there is a small, exasperated voice in my head saying, "What new twist is someone putting on my faith this time?" But that isn't the only thing bouncing around in my head when I meet a new book about the Church. The other voice, which is much more compelling (and friendlier!), reminds me to stay curious, humble, and open to whatever God might want to teach me. And it reminds me that I've had my own doubts about Church and western Christianity over the years, and just maybe this author will help shed some light on what I've already felt in my gut about the problems I've witnessed.[return][return]That being said, the waters were a little rough for me in the first few chapters of The Next Christians, where Gabe Lyons summarizes the state of American (this could apply to Canadian Christians too, so I'll just say "NA", short for North American) Christianity. He describes the many sub-groups of Christians by the way they relate with secular society, but these descriptions seem over-simplified. While he mentions their strengths, he ends up casting each group in a rather negative light in an effort to contrast them with what he calls the "next Christians." So that's the main hiccup I ran into as I digested this book.[return][return]Moving right along, I was fascinated by his idea that over the last few decades (or the last century, even) NA Christians have put the gospel message out of balance, focusing on salvation but minimizing the other half of the story: the restorative piece of God's work. God's end goal is not just for us to be saved, but He also restores our souls, minds, hearts, and relationships in the process, and He will bring restoration to the world at the end of time as well.[return][return]Bringing restoration back into focus alongside the message of salvation, Lyons says, helps regular Christians (like me!) finally understand our natural impulse to create things that are beautiful and to fix things that are broken, like our neighborhoods, homes, workplaces, hobbies, (Facebook pages?), and anything we can get our hands on to beautify. This point really hit home for me, especially because I still carry a little bit of the shame of being thought of as 'liberal' (in the sense that people want to spit after saying it) because of my relentless drive to preserve that which is beautiful (like nature) and speak up for people who are down on their luck or oppressed. So in my case, it's refreshing to be reminded that God created us to enjoy and want to do these things, because by doing so we're reflecting His nature; we were made in His image, after all![return][return]The rest of the book delves into the many different attitudes and activities these "next Christians" engage in. His stories inspire me and they've got me brainstorming about changes I might make to my own life. Gabe also narrated the audio version of his book, which added a personal touch.[return][return]Now obviously, I can't summarize all the angles or the depth of the author's points in the confines of my short review, so you'll just have to pick up a copy for yourself to see exactly what Lyons is trying to say. ;-)[return][return]Many thanks to christianaudio (http://christianaudio.com) for providing a free audio download of this book for review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Janelle

    Loved the book and gave such a great insight to what our roles hereon Earth should be right now. Challenging to consider the current culture views and how the idas reflected in this book provide a counter cultural approach.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED The author starts out by summarizing the state of American Christianity (Australia is not that much different) in the first few chapters. This is a good thing because it helps us to realize the way that Christians interact with the culture that they are living in. It is a wakeup call to us all, and he uses this current state of the Church to contrast with the "Next Christians" that he has studied. Lyons goes on to explain that we are not just saved, so that we can sit around and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED The author starts out by summarizing the state of American Christianity (Australia is not that much different) in the first few chapters. This is a good thing because it helps us to realize the way that Christians interact with the culture that they are living in. It is a wakeup call to us all, and he uses this current state of the Church to contrast with the "Next Christians" that he has studied. Lyons goes on to explain that we are not just saved, so that we can sit around and wait to go to heaven (the attitude of many Christians today), however we were saved for and to good works prepared in advance for us to do. These works include working with God in restoring (as best we can) the creation that we live in, and the contemporary culture that we are immersed in. Of course everything will not be fully restored until Jesus returns. Until then we are to be the image of God that we were created to be through the work and presence of The Holy Spirit. After identifying the problem. Lyons goes on to provide the solution, which is encapsulated in what he calls "The Next Christians". The lives lived that identify these people makes me want to re-think the way I live and inspires me to "step it up a notch", and then to teach those around me to do the same. This is really a great book, especially for Church leaders, but also for the general lay person such as myself who wants to live their lives in such a way as to bring glory to God the best I can. Audiobook available here: http://christianaudio.com/the-next-ch...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marcus Costantino

    I appreciate the effort of Lyons to call to the attention of Christians how the world views us and to compel us to meet the needs of an ever watching world that is slowly finding us and the church not worth even watching. The disconnect is not in his desire to call us to action but in (1) his presentation of christian stereotypes as if his labels are orthodox, (2) his development of his own christianese to suit his purposes rather than developing his message upon extant theology and time-tested I appreciate the effort of Lyons to call to the attention of Christians how the world views us and to compel us to meet the needs of an ever watching world that is slowly finding us and the church not worth even watching. The disconnect is not in his desire to call us to action but in (1) his presentation of christian stereotypes as if his labels are orthodox, (2) his development of his own christianese to suit his purposes rather than developing his message upon extant theology and time-tested language and 3) his constantly reiterated evaluation that "the next Christians" have discovered a more noble and enlightened way to live, something that, presumed by the author, has devastatingly been missing in prior church ages. The corresponding small group study video is an excellent resource as it introduces the opinions of a variety of contemporary Christian pastors, thinkers and authors on the relevant topics such as the relevance and viability of the modern church, the Sabbath, the supposed conflict between evangelism and social justice, missiology and other pertinent and necessary discussion topics. In lieu of this text I would suggest: "The One True Thing" by Howard Baker, "A Kingdom Called Desire" by Rick McKinley, "Uncompromised Faith" by S. Michael Craven "The Unfinished Church" by Rob Bentz

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dave McNeely

    If you can make it past the introduction, where Lyons either genuinely longs nostalgically for the days of Christendom or is trying to ease those who do into a new era, there's much to commend this book as an introduction to some of the metathemes of contemporary Christianity's vibrant edges within North America. At the same time, even what can be commended comes with a caveat. While Lyons' book may find a new audience (which would be good), most of the ground he covers has been covered better b If you can make it past the introduction, where Lyons either genuinely longs nostalgically for the days of Christendom or is trying to ease those who do into a new era, there's much to commend this book as an introduction to some of the metathemes of contemporary Christianity's vibrant edges within North America. At the same time, even what can be commended comes with a caveat. While Lyons' book may find a new audience (which would be good), most of the ground he covers has been covered better by more able commentators. Furthermore, Lyons' intentionally broad strokes lack nuance and, at times, discernment. Finally, Lyons' optimistic "evangelism" of these emerging trends reminds me of what a good, elderly friend of mine constantly refrains to younger Christians: "You know you're not the first generation to think these things." At the same time, here's hoping those of whom Lyon writes may perhaps do it just a bit better this go around.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bobbi

    I think it's great that people want to live like Christ by helping others, but I don't agree with people being embarrassed to be called Christian. I don't really agree with the worry of being mistaken for being a Sarah Palin-type individual just for being called a Christian. Sorry, but the Christ who lived over 2000 years ago has a greater loyalty in my heart than this short-term sub-culture of which the writer things modern Christians are embarrassed by. On this note the book fell very flat, an I think it's great that people want to live like Christ by helping others, but I don't agree with people being embarrassed to be called Christian. I don't really agree with the worry of being mistaken for being a Sarah Palin-type individual just for being called a Christian. Sorry, but the Christ who lived over 2000 years ago has a greater loyalty in my heart than this short-term sub-culture of which the writer things modern Christians are embarrassed by. On this note the book fell very flat, and seemed to be about a lack of courage and willpower in the hearts of modern people. There have always been such individuals, but I'd rather not emulate them, and find them not really very inspiring.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kitty Honeycutt

    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 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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark Franklin

    Four stars for expressing a positive view of restoration in American Christianity. A kind of sequel to UnChristian, Lyons spends this book talking about how the gospel continues to work in our society despite a huge undercurrent of negativity about "Christians". It is presented in an informational way, but the goal seems to be encouragement to Christians today who might be feeling run down by negativity, at least that is how I took it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    The author, I think, really tries not to be "holier than thou," but still it seems to me as though he might believe that his "next Christians" have arrived...& are at a better place than other Christians through (at least) recent history. And I think that in his attempt to make Christianity more relevant, he plays down the centrality of the good news that we have a Saviour. A Saviour IS relevant to our deepest needs and longings. I also remember learning early in my Christian walk that we are to The author, I think, really tries not to be "holier than thou," but still it seems to me as though he might believe that his "next Christians" have arrived...& are at a better place than other Christians through (at least) recent history. And I think that in his attempt to make Christianity more relevant, he plays down the centrality of the good news that we have a Saviour. A Saviour IS relevant to our deepest needs and longings. I also remember learning early in my Christian walk that we are to do all to the glory of God...meaning temporal things such as vocations should also be infused with living for Christ...I don't think the "next" Christians have anything up on the "previous" Christians. If he is saying that we don't need to all be jerks who pressure people & care more about their eternal souls than they do, then I appreciate that very much! I appreciate a lot of his thoughts, though. 98 So how does something like Fringe promote God's Kingdom? Shouldn't there be a subliminal statement of belief, an invitation to a local church, or a logo for a ministry in there somewhere? When the next Christians create culture that promotes beauty, they give people of glimpse of the beauty of God. There's no need for a logo, because the beauty itself belongs to God & is a pronouncement for his existence, love, & desire for the world..."beauty is both something that calls us out of ourselves & something which appeals to feelings deep within us."...Inviting fellow human beings to experience beauty teases their souls & allows them, albeit briefly, to see a picture of how things ought to be. 111 ...the next Christians view every corner of society as "in play." They may not overtly use their platforms to evangelize, but the redemptive elements of their work are unmistakable. They've checked their moralizing stick at the door, but embrace the opportunity to naturally infuse faith into their businesses. If the conversations arise, they are thrilled t have them, but that isn't the only way they can be faithful. They understand that where they work is oftentimes the place God has called them to let his restoration flood the world...The next Christians don't work at jobs; they serve in vocations. They see their occupational placement as part of God's greater mission. 116 7 channels of cultural influence: media, education, arts & entertainment, business, government, social sector, church. 136 ...The next Christians enjoy reading the Bible as much as curling up with a great novel. It invokes their imagination and instills confidence in a God who isn't just part of history but is showing up through them in their world today. It gives them focus, but with a much bigger picture in mind. They don't encumber themselves with specific, and often legalistic, dos and don'ts (although these principles can be helpful) instead, they open themselves to learning and communing with the Creator. [my note: really?] 137 [my note: he's talking about observing the Sabbath, & gives great reasons for doing so, but he never mentions worshiping God. I think this chapter on Christian discipline includes the same old Christian practices, dressed up in modern language. That's great, but it's not BETTER.] 163 Full of grace & unconditional love for those unlike them, they don't obsess over recruiting people to be involved in their internal church programs. In fact, they probably don't have many programs because their lives are full with interactions throughout the community. 166 ...these Christians are provoked, not offended, creators, not critics; called, not employed; grounded, not disstracted, and live in community, rather than alone. 167 One trap Christians have fallen into historically in striving to be countercultural has been removing themselves entirely from culture...Separatist Christians--condemn and retreat...Amish are the most obvious. Although they are also a positive example of Christian faithfulness, they are an easy target for this label...confident in their beliefs...created a lifestyle to facilitate it...They have much to offer our world, but few will ever be exposed to it because of their commitment to separate. The lesson here is that Christians who remove themselves from the world in hopes of self-preservation miss out on carrying the love of God forward to those who might need it most. Separatism may indeed be called countercultural, but for the reasons mentioned, it's not the posture of the next Christians. 169 This condemning approach toward society represents a trap Christians often encounter as they seek to be countercultural. But it's a place these next Christians refuse to visit. In the days of Christian America, religious leaders were often better at cursing the darkness than lighting a candle. They became known for what they were against instead of suggesting alternatives that represent what they were for. (& I don't mean boycotting Disney and creating a Bible-themed amusement park to replace it.) 170 In an effort to appeal to outsiders, some Christians copy culture...become a Xerox of what they perceive to be hip...Consider the "Christian Music" section...mimics the same pop culture trends everyone else is following...not really a new genre; it's the same tired tunes with different words...good brand strategy...tribute to how well these...have separated themselves by copying the very thing they are trying to object to-the "consumer desires" of the wider world...an entire movement toward being 'relevant" is running amok...Once a useful adjective...become the idyllic Holy Grail for churches craving the cool factor...relevance is the...opposite of countercultural... [my criticism of this book!] 171 In the pursuit of relevance, many churches were...influenced by the business management theories...arts...influence crept into the church...latest influence on the pop culture-driven church is the push to be involved in social justice work...latest social fad...creates an endless cycle...trying to be relevant makes...cultural followers, not...leaders...the church should be offering an alternative way of living... 173 ...relating to the world by following [it] can be a recipe for disappointment... I love the following review: Dec. 16, 2010 Gabe Lyons’ book...is an excellent read...provocative. Having consumed...unChristian, I read...with great anticipation. Lyons argues several points in describing what the next generation of Christians will look like...First, Lyons argues that the old forms of Christianity in Western civilization, especially in ‘Christian America’, are passing away and are being replaced by what Lyons calls ‘next Christians’ with new modalities of cultural engagement. I agree. Second, he argues that these ‘next Christians’ are guided by the goal of ‘restoration’ as they seek to restore all things as intended in God’s original creative purposes...views the ‘kingdom of God’ as the restoration of all things to their intended purposes. Finally, Lyons argues that...'next Christians’ are guided by a concept he calls the ‘power of the ought.’ That is, ‘next Christians’ focus on how things ‘ought’ to be rather than how things really are – they are more hopeful and positive than previous generations as they engage culture through restorative means. The driving force of the life...is pursuing how things ‘ought’ to be rather than focusing on the negatives of the present...when ‘next Christians’ begin to act in this restorative, ‘oughtness’ manner the embarrassment of wearing the Christian label will be removed, thus, paving the way for a new era of evangelism, missions, even conversions. Lyons proposes that the means by which ‘next Christians’ engage the culture will be multifaceted: they will be provoked by what they see, but not offended; creatively involved, but not critical of culture; called, but not rigidly employed; grounded, yet not distracted; in community, not alone; and, countercultural, but not relevant...will creatively engage the world in seeking the goal of kingdom restoration in every area of influence – among individuals as well as the media, politics, business, art, music, etc. But after reading...I walked away asking myself, ‘Why do I sense there is something missing in this book? Who doesn’t want to restore things? What believer among us would openly say they don’t want to engage the culture, or help the poor, or help the sick?’ Again..‘What’s missing from this otherwise excellent book?’ Let me answer my own questions with a set of questions that were provoked by Lyons’ book. First, when did the goal of Christianity become removing the ‘embarrassment label?’ I understand Lyons’ concern over embarrassing Christians if he means the silly & cheesy attitudes & behaviors some Christians display... Yet, the ‘taint’ of being a Christian will never be completely removed because the gospel itself is both offensive & redemptive, cold-blooded truth & warm-hearted mercy, inconvenient precept & massive amounts of grace. If Lyons is referring to the embarrassment that comes from some non-Christian words & deeds offered up by Christians, then I concur. But if he is suggesting that the ‘embarrassment’ or ‘oddness’ of wearing the label of ‘Christian’ can be fully removed due to the nature of the subject itself, he is sadly mistaken and has forgotten what Jesus said (Jn. 15:18), “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you.” It’s not that Christians should go looking for a fight (a.k.a.Fred Phelps) or that we should be intentionally rude, prudish, & arrogant because we “have the truth!” We are to live in humble peace with all men if at all possible, doing good to all people, especially to fellow believers (Gal. 6:10). Yet, the offensiveness of the gospel cannot, must not, be removed. It is offensive to live the gospel because of the gospel itself, which tells us that we are sinners by birth & by choice; that left to our own devices we remain under the condemnation of God; &, that no amount of beauty, art, social engineering or cultural engagement can change my sinful heart. The gospel of Jesus Christ alone redeems, forgives, makes righteous. The gospel is embarrassing because the gospel graciously & audaciously announces, if you will, the ‘Emperor has no clothes,’ that we are destitute sinners, uncovered before a holy God, albeit we are ‘abercrombie & fitch’ wearing rebels. If our goal is to make wearing the label ‘Christian’ ‘un-embarrassing’ then we have more problems than the biblically illiterate Christians who fill many of our churches. We may have a problem with the redeeming, offensive, gracious, stumbling block of the gospel itself (1 Cor. 1:18). Second, is the goal of the kingdom of God restoration or regeneration? I’m not trying to split theological hairs here, but there is a difference between these two words. When using the word ‘restore’ Lyons seems to be arguing that the goal of the gospel is to put things as they were prior to the sin of our first parents. While an admirable goal, is this really the consummate, overarching goal of the kingdom of God and the gospel? Is this a burden we can bear? Does restoration have more to do with cultural and social renewal than personal regeneration? Is this kind of restoration even possible? The reason restoration may be a well-intended, but misguided goal is that until God makes all things new (Rev. 21:5) we remain locked in a world under the curse of sin. We will never be able to ‘restore’ things as they were. Restoration will lead to frustration because ‘Humpty Dumpty’ has fallen off the wall and cannot be put back together. Yes, we feed the poor, visit the homeless, fight injustice, dig wells, & engage culture in positive ways. But if restoration is our goal then frustration will be the outcome because the needs of restoration will continue to increase exponentially. Maybe this is why Jesus said that the poor will always be with us (Mt. 26:11). It’s not that Jesus was applauding poverty, hunger, homelessness or trying to retard the need to meet these needs. Instead, he was simply recognizing the ‘chronic’ nature of things that are broken because we live in a broken world. The Christian does feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and ministers to the broken – all in the name of Jesus (Mt. 5:38-42). But, is our goal restoration? Maybe our goal as believers should be regeneration. Regeneration is the making of a new person in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), with a new nature, new desires, new purposes. It is the removal of the curse of sin through the power of Jesus Christ. Regeneration makes us new internally & prepares us for that which is eternal. It is the transformation of a person in Jesus Christ. Regeneration does not ignore the social or physical conditions of the individual, but is mindful that ‘real, eternal’ poverty is that of the heart and mind & is the direct result of the curse of sin. Maybe it’s just me, but the word ‘restoration’ leaves me frustrated. It reminds me of liberalism’s desire to do good, but without the gospel. Having participated in helping feed the poor, clothe the naked, & assist in remedying human suffering, I am keenly aware that a new heart & mind is the ultimate goal of the gospel. How sad it would be to feed the hungry & not give them eternal bread. How sad it would be to clothe the naked only to miss being the conduit by which God clothes the sinner in his righteousness. How sad to dig fresh water wells, only to withhold the life-giving water of Jesus Christ. Third, is the goal of Christianity the transformation of culture or the transformation of the individual? This is the ‘chicken or the egg’ dilemma. Which comes first? Who among us would not want to transform the community? Who would resist the opportunity to renew aspects of culture so that they comport with God’s purposes? In fact, wherever Christianity has been strong culture has reflected this gospel influence. But is culture our target or human transformation? I suppose one could argue that the two cannot be separated. Even the Reformers (Luther & Calvin) sought to remove the line between the sacred and the secular so that all work was God’s work. So, the cultural influence of the gospel is not to be ignored. Maybe I can ask the ‘questions of my discomfort’ with Lyons’ argument this way – Did Paul go to Rome to change the culture or preach the gospel? Was his trip to the Areopagus an endeavor in cultural enlightenment or an occasion to preach the gospel? Did the early church set out to engage the culture or to preach the life-transforming gospel so that individuals could be changed who would then live out that new life in cultural engagement? Did Paul ever protest the injustice of abusive tax rates that affected all people, especially the poor (I wish he had)? Was Jesus, Paul, and/or Peter a cultural crusader or a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Again, cultures have been and will be transformed and unjust systems will be altered as the gospel takes root deep in the human soul. But if we make the restoration of culture the first & primary goal – the main goal – then I fear that the church will end up frustrated with the outcomes & disconnected from the ‘essential’ nature and purpose of the gospel. Fourth, why did Lyons’ book leave me with the sense that the gospel itself is missing. I’m not suggesting Lyons doesn’t believe the gospel. In fact, he pays homage to the gospel as the power of God in Jesus Christ to save. Yet, Next Christians reminds me of the contours of liberation theology where the gospel is ‘gutted’ of its righteousness, repentance and faith are downplayed, & the true gospel is replaced by a deed-based gospel that has as its goal the restoration of cultural means. The assumption is that as Christians engage culture sinners cannot help but be changed. It’s kind of like conversion through cultural osmosis. This is why Lyons discounts other Christian modalities, i.e. the Insiders, Culture Warriors, Evangelizers, Blenders or Philanthropists & replaces them with Restorers who will enact Christianity like no previous generation. Maybe this is why I felt that when I finished reading Lyons’ book I had just finished a Tony Robbins book dressed up in Christian garb? Good, practical suggestions for engaging culture – you bet, but with no or little gospel. Which leads me to my fifth & final question – Does Lyons perpetuate the common sin of postmodernism that C.S. Lewis described as ‘chronological snobbery?’ In essence, is Lyons suggesting that our Christian predecessors got it all wrong & now, at last, our generation will finally get it right? Is Lyons writing with hubris when he intimates that we should completely throw off the shackles of our forefathers...& embrace a new brand of generous, orthodox Christianity that is less gospel-orientated & more focused on cultural restoration & personal self-help? Is Lyons arguing that previous generations of Christians did not take their faith with them to work, to play, into the arts, into media outlets, etc.? To quote Lyons, the goal of the restorers is “to infuse the world with beauty, grace, justice, & love” as if no previous believers ever attempted this before 1975. Maybe what we need to restore is the gospel itself. Maybe we need a more clear presentation of the gospel, not less. Lyons suggests that the ‘Restorers’ are commensurate with the Reformers of the 16th century. Really? Calvin & Luther... did radically transform many aspects of culture, i.e. education, politics, art...Yet, what Lyons misses is that the cultural transformation brought about by the Reformation happened only after an aggressive & all-consuming recovery of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Reformers discovered that it was not culture that was at risk of being lost, it was the gospel? Maybe we have heard too little of the gospel? Maybe our problem is not cultural engagement (Christians have always engaged in cultural commerce for better or for worse). Maybe our problem is that we haven’t been gospel-centered enough. Is it possible that in our efforts to engage culture we have unraveled the gospel itself to accommodate our cultural engagement? Maybe we haven’t been embarrassing enough in our gospel convictions that transforms the soul, our ethics, & our goals & that then causes us to pay our taxes, feed the poor, clothe the naked, confront sex-trafficking... This kind of thinking will keep us from having an appearance of godliness, yet not knowing the power of God (2 Tim. 3:5). Lyons raises the prospect of William Wilberforce as an example of positive, Christian cultural engagement, a man who almost single-handily helped banish slavery in England. With this example I couldn’t agree more. However, what was the driving force of Wilberforce’s life?...Wilberforce wrote only one book..It was a commentary on the...doctrines of grace as the sole basis for human renewal and cultural engagement. The basis of Wilberforce’s life & work was a strong...conviction in the gospel... Wilberforce’s source of cultural engagement was not... the abolition of slavery, but the liberation of sinful man through the power of the gospel. If Lyons is true to his own example, I’m all for being a part of the ‘next Christians.’ But if Lyons means by restoration the renewal of culture by downplaying the embarrassing gospel, then I fear he will get neither the cultural or individual restoration he’s looking for. Dr. Kevin Shrum...in ministry 29 years, pastors Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville...Adjunct Professor of Theology for Union University in Jackson, TN. Christian Post Guest Columnist

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Elliott

    This book, perhaps more than even "You Lost Me" has helped me understand the thought processes and problems of a younger generation and has helped me think about ministry in a new context. p. 25-In an effort to keep up, many suburban churches have followed closely behind--forced to choose locations in response to urban sprawl rather than function as a centerpiece of holistic design. Some churches are now comfortably couched in streetside strip malls alongside dry cleaners and nail salons. This g This book, perhaps more than even "You Lost Me" has helped me understand the thought processes and problems of a younger generation and has helped me think about ministry in a new context. p. 25-In an effort to keep up, many suburban churches have followed closely behind--forced to choose locations in response to urban sprawl rather than function as a centerpiece of holistic design. Some churches are now comfortably couched in streetside strip malls alongside dry cleaners and nail salons. This geographical location is perhaps a metaphor for the church's reduced role in people's lives. Instead of anchoring their center, some churches have become a convenient location where Christians can drop in without interrupting their normal routines. p. 26-In many cases, once proud churches are left with a small but devoted elderly population that's been left behind. Fixed incomes and low volunteerism are telltale signs of a church on the decline. Rather than adapt, a significant group of Christians chose to react. They are resisting the change--unaware of the full implications of their response. Perhaps they long for the good ole days when life and faith seemed simpler--when things were black-and-white, clear, and logical--when Christian values were accepted at face value, no matter what else was going on in the world. As such they have anchored themselves to the view that America is and should stay "a sacred Christian Nation." They think that God--as expressed in the Christian faith--was and should remain at the center of our public square. This faction focuses its energy on resistance despite the obvious trends rising all around it. p. 27-(citing 80% of Americans under 60 describing themselves as spiritual.) The point was clear: Americans are spiritual, but they have begun to seek spiritual experiences outside the framework of traditional religions. p. 94-I used to think that for Christians to really do good, conversion of another person had to take place. But the next Christians have helped me think about this more deeply. They aren't just the "do-gooders" who lack theological understanding. They believe that service to God reflects his Kingdom and tangibly expresses his love to those in need--even when conversions cannot be quantified. They see "doing good" as the perfect dance partner for conversion. Both are important, but neither one takes precedence over the other. pgs. 98-99-When the next Christians create culture that promotes beauty, they give people a glimpse of the beauty of God. There's no need for a logo, because the beauty itself belongs to God and is a pronouncement for his existence, love, and desire for the world. p. 100-For the next Christians, this perspective allows them to see the work of the divine emanating from everyone. When they see it, they call it out, celebrate it, and affirm it'd goodness. p. 115 (An interesting section on how the gay agenda has overtaken culture)--Their success at spreading an idea through all seven channels of culture (media, education, arts & entertainment, business, government, social sector, church) was obvious. In just thirty years, the idea of being gay has moved from being abnormal and abhorrent in society to being an acceptable and normal alternative lifestyle. This change of perception didn't just happen--it came about as a result of leaders embodying their idealogy and message wherever they showed up each day. p. 135-To restorer-minded Christians, Scripture wasn't meant to be a science book, history text, or ethics manual, although they acknowledge it provides great insight into each of those subjects. They aren't determined to find verses to support opinions or point of view. Instead, they enjoy Scripture as they believe it was meant to be: a grand narrative that tells a story of a God who loves and pursues, rescues, gives grace, and goes to any length to restore relationships with his most prized creations. Without robbing the Scriptures of their timeless, propositional truths, the next Christians are also rediscovering the thematic Hebrew stories of Exodus and liberation, exile and return. p. 161-The historian and sociologist Rodney Stark observes that "social networks grow much faster when they spread through existing networks." Citing the early church as a model, he notes that instead of creating their own institutions, Christians were known for joining and enriching existing ones. This made their faith less privatized and more engaging. For centuries, Christians have been showing up in the middle of the world. Although recently, some have been sidetracked by a Separatist mentality, the next Christians are changing this by intentionally placing themselves in the middle of culture. **Interesting note--in the book Lyons, highlights at least two examples of those engaging their culture in order to change it. One's moral failure is within the text; the other is hidden in the footnotes. This is my fear with this mentality. I'm not opposed to cultural engagement and not in favor of separatism but I have rarely seen it balanced well. p. 171-The church growth mentality has marginalized discipleship and true-life transformation for many who have encountered it. **(exactly my problem with cultural engagement w/o discipleship)And ironically, those who have succumbed lost sight of Drucker's own admonition that the purpose of management of the church is not to make it more businesslike, but to make it more churchlike. p. 172-There are Christians who have grown frustrated with their loss of credibility in the public square and see relevance as their method to bridge the gap. They think, "If we can make Christianity cool again, everyone will want in." Admittedly, everyone of us wants to be liked, accepted and respected by our peers--that's normal. But unfortunately, with this view, these Christians overlook the inherent problem in their attempt to relate to culture--trying to be relevant makes the cultural followers, not cultural leaders. It's a catch-up mentality. p. 175-The next Christians see themselves as salt--preserving agents actively restoring in the middle of a decaying culture. They attach themselves to people and structures that are in danger of rotting while availing themselves of Christ's redeeming power to do work through them. They understand that by being restorers they fight against the cultural tide. But they feel called to restore and renew everything they see falling apart. p. 184-The next Christians try to create the most good for all people, regardless of race, class or religion. Christians shouldn't strive for what's best only in their own community of believers, though that's important. They should concentrate on the benefit of all people in God's creation whether or not they share our values, ethnicity, or religion. p. 185-186 (Quoting a letter to Diognetus) The Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race by country or language or customs. They do not live in cities of their own; they do not use a peculiar form of speech; they do not follow an eccentric manner of life...Yet, although they live in Greek and barbarian cities alike...and follow the customs of the country in clothing and food and other matters of daily living, at the same time they give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their own commonwealth. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens. They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land. They marry, like every one else, and they beget children, but they do not cast out their offspring. They share their board with each other, but not their marriage bed. They busy themselves on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. THey obey the established laws, but in their own lives they go far beyond what the laws require. They love all men, and by all men are persecuted..They are poor, and yet they make many rich; they are completely destitute, and yet they enjoy complete abundance. To put it simply: What the soul is in the body, that Christians are in the world. Cyril Richardson, Early Christian Fathers, 175 p. 194 (Speaking of Rodney Stark's book The Rise of Christianity) Early followers showed up and exemplified what restoration living looked like. They befriended people who were different from them and served those in need. And somehow along the way, evangelism took place. Stark clarifies how this might have been possible when he concludes that most people don't seek after a faith, but rather they "encounter one through their ties to other people who already accept [that] faith.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brian Taylor

    Do you wonder about the next generation of Christians? I know I have to admit that I do. It's been something that has been on my mind ever since I was young. I've always been someone who ponders about what the next generation will bring. In my most recent readings, I have been very encouraged about the next generation of Christians. Gabe Lyons has expanded his look into the millennial generation of believers in his book The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live The Gospel and Restore the Worl Do you wonder about the next generation of Christians? I know I have to admit that I do. It's been something that has been on my mind ever since I was young. I've always been someone who ponders about what the next generation will bring. In my most recent readings, I have been very encouraged about the next generation of Christians. Gabe Lyons has expanded his look into the millennial generation of believers in his book The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live The Gospel and Restore the World. In this book he paints a great picture of just how unique this next generation of believers are and how they have the capacity to do for Christianity something that is different and greater than the previous generations have been able to do. One of the great things that Gabe points out is that this next generation is one that sees the failings of the predecessors and are thinking about faith in such a way that, while they may not necessarily call themselves "Christian" by name, their actions are more in tuned to the heart of God by acknowledging that God desires restoration of all things, not simply conversion of all people. I believe that pastors and leaders definitely need to read this book if they are to capture the heart of this generation. I also believe that this generation of believers would do well to read this as well. If they are like me in any way, they have probably wondered why they don't think along the lines of those that have come before them. If there is any sense in the heart that there has to be more to this thing called Christianity, you'll find affirmation and confirmation in this book. While this generation of believers have a different mind, they also seek the wisdom in how best to implement those things that are in their heart. As Gabe points to each of the seven ways that we can live the gospel and restore the world, it requires and a new way of thinking. Gabe points out shifts that are and must occur. Those who can see and adapt will position themselves on the path to be a part of a greater scope of fulfilling the will of God.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Sutton

    I listened to The Next Christians on audibook last week. (http://www.nextchristians.com) I found it to be a hopeful and encouraging voice in my reconstruction and in continuing to step into the Christian name/label. The author (Gabe Lyons) has a good handle on how I’ve seen younger Christians move forward in the Christian way. Instead of being separatists, averse to culture, mistrusting, and judgemental, the Next Christians have a strong focus on restoring. He calls them The Restorers and points I listened to The Next Christians on audibook last week. (http://www.nextchristians.com) I found it to be a hopeful and encouraging voice in my reconstruction and in continuing to step into the Christian name/label. The author (Gabe Lyons) has a good handle on how I’ve seen younger Christians move forward in the Christian way. Instead of being separatists, averse to culture, mistrusting, and judgemental, the Next Christians have a strong focus on restoring. He calls them The Restorers and points out the next Chrsitians’ holding to the good in the Garden and the good at The End. They see this “as it should be” and the potential for it everywhere, and that’s what they put their energies to, toward making things as it should be. He calls this “the power of the ought.” And so, instead of avoiding or judging, they step into places previously left alone by the normal Christian. They go to rallies, create businesses that bring good, and build up friendships with people different from them, not with the goal of evangelizing but with the goal of making the world a better place, as it ought to be. He put a lot of words to what I’ve felt and believed and wanted myself. I think this book has the power to redeem the concept and reputation of Christianity here in America, if people would read and heed it. I don’t agree with all of this theological stances, but he even spoke to how agreeing on beliefs doesn’t matter as much to the next Christians anymore, as there are more important things to coalesce around. He also uses a good many Christianese terms, but the majority of his readers would be used to them, so I’m sure he was just trying to connect with his audience. (He also uses some more casual phrases that I don’t like in general in books, but it’s no big deal.) Anyway, for anyone feeling discouraged by what it means to be a Christian these days, I recommend this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Eshelman

    Using key dichotomies and many anecdotes, Gabe Lyons delivers a solid, in-depth look into what American Christianity can become. This book is perfect for anyone feeling disillusioned with the way American Christianity is operating today. Lyons points out the good that is already in place and pushes the reader to go and do likewise (allusion fully intended). His ideas are an antidote to the prevailing narratives that surround cultural Christianity, and I found myself underlining and marking up my Using key dichotomies and many anecdotes, Gabe Lyons delivers a solid, in-depth look into what American Christianity can become. This book is perfect for anyone feeling disillusioned with the way American Christianity is operating today. Lyons points out the good that is already in place and pushes the reader to go and do likewise (allusion fully intended). His ideas are an antidote to the prevailing narratives that surround cultural Christianity, and I found myself underlining and marking up my copy. The anecdotes do blur after a while, and I found myself a bit disconnected when his ideas felt too abstract or general. I like practical ideas, so whenever an author goes a bit general I get bored. A simple fix would be to read this in a small group, as the ideas are great for discussion. If you are looking for fresh ideas for how Christians can live in our world or for a new small group discussion book, you can't go wrong with this one.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Gabe Lyons believes that a better, more restorative Christianity is on the horizon, and that Christians dedicated to the Word will find a better way to reach a hurting world. I liked the ideas and enthusiasm. But I was bugged by a lack of curiosity about power structures that oppress women and minorities, advocate anti-choice policies, and exile queer members from belonging in a loving environment. Maybe hindsight is 20/20? I am, after all, reading this booking 2019. This is a book written before Gabe Lyons believes that a better, more restorative Christianity is on the horizon, and that Christians dedicated to the Word will find a better way to reach a hurting world. I liked the ideas and enthusiasm. But I was bugged by a lack of curiosity about power structures that oppress women and minorities, advocate anti-choice policies, and exile queer members from belonging in a loving environment. Maybe hindsight is 20/20? I am, after all, reading this booking 2019. This is a book written before Trump, before #metoo and before the rotten fruit of Evangelicalism wilted off the vine. A quick Google search shows that Gabe Lyons did not support Trump in 2016 and indeed was concerned about Evangelical enthusiasm for him, but there just isn't a hint that there is a need for self-examination and repentance before evangelizing others. I'd recommend either a new edition with a timely forward or a new book to analyze these hypotheses a decade later.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mikayla

    Found this book interesting and enjoyable. A friend of mine had to read it for their ministry degree and they suggested that I read it. I found that it did bring hope in a world that seems pretty hopeless on the front of Christianity. One sees the church losing ground and fading to the background with church attendance down and what is popular in today's culture. This book gives good insight as to whether the trend might not be as bad and it appears to be. A good book to read, and might be parti Found this book interesting and enjoyable. A friend of mine had to read it for their ministry degree and they suggested that I read it. I found that it did bring hope in a world that seems pretty hopeless on the front of Christianity. One sees the church losing ground and fading to the background with church attendance down and what is popular in today's culture. This book gives good insight as to whether the trend might not be as bad and it appears to be. A good book to read, and might be particularly helpful for churches and people who prefer the more traditional approach to church and Christianity. 4 stars because it was very interesting in some parts, but in other parts, it didn't keep my attention well.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    I appreciate the concept, but I read this book in 2018, and it feels a little tone deaf. It's written by a young, apparently upper middle class, white, Christian guy, who doesn't realize how blind he and his target audience are to people of other races and socio-economic backgrounds. His stance on abortion and homosexuality doesn't leave much room for discussion, which is disheartening. As a white "working class" American, I grew tired of the heroes of his stories, many of whom seemed to make a I appreciate the concept, but I read this book in 2018, and it feels a little tone deaf. It's written by a young, apparently upper middle class, white, Christian guy, who doesn't realize how blind he and his target audience are to people of other races and socio-economic backgrounds. His stance on abortion and homosexuality doesn't leave much room for discussion, which is disheartening. As a white "working class" American, I grew tired of the heroes of his stories, many of whom seemed to make a few good choices that miraculously blossomed into career ministries. He also seems to trivialize social justice, which has come to forefront of many American churches in the last two years. An updated edition could feel more relevant, but then again, I would hope for a lot of updates.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    Now to decide the next step This book stirs up so many questions. The first being, where to start? There are so many areas that are broken that need help in our world. A friend and I have been discussing this and hope to grow our thoughts into action. This book has challenged me the most of any I've read recently and is answering a haunting question I've had of what is missing. Don't read this book unless you are willing to do something, anything to make the world a better place and bring glory to G Now to decide the next step This book stirs up so many questions. The first being, where to start? There are so many areas that are broken that need help in our world. A friend and I have been discussing this and hope to grow our thoughts into action. This book has challenged me the most of any I've read recently and is answering a haunting question I've had of what is missing. Don't read this book unless you are willing to do something, anything to make the world a better place and bring glory to God. Thanks Mr. Lyons for the challenge.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gabby Roberts

    Lyons does a great job of not only explaining different approaches that have been taken by past generations but by showing new approaches that can be taken. He describes an upcoming generation called the restorers and their unconventional approach to ministry. He connects their example with people who are conducting their business as restorers. He tackles topics with grace and truth. Great read. Super engaging and insightful.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    He had some valid points for Christians in America but it was disconcerting to notice how much he vilified anything older than 2000. Pretty much if a Millennial hadn’t thought of an idea, it was useless and worn out. We need both new and old ideas to be brought before the church today.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    An interesting book though I believe by the 22nd century religion will be far less important in America as it is today. This book is not for everyone though I do recommend it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Clint

    A look at how new modern christians are taking the gospel and relationship with God from the inside of the church walls to their communities and building relationship with their neighbors while building loving and caring communities.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fred

    If I were still in my 20's or 30's I would no doubt be raving about what a classic, paradigm shifting, radical work this book is - as I see many are doing with this book. Yep, that's what I did back in the day with books like this. However folks, after 4+ decades as a Christian my older, more mature, more experienced, wiser self says, there's really nothing new to see here. For example, in our own time in terms of BIBLICALLY redeeming and restoring the earth . . . Bonhoffer has articulated it; Rus If I were still in my 20's or 30's I would no doubt be raving about what a classic, paradigm shifting, radical work this book is - as I see many are doing with this book. Yep, that's what I did back in the day with books like this. However folks, after 4+ decades as a Christian my older, more mature, more experienced, wiser self says, there's really nothing new to see here. For example, in our own time in terms of BIBLICALLY redeeming and restoring the earth . . . Bonhoffer has articulated it; Rushdoony preached it; Francis and Edith Schaeffer modeled it. And Timothy Keller and others have molded and updated it for our generation. Folks, literally thousands have lived, teached, and practiced what is in this book for years, decades, and generations. There were giant's shoulders to stand on here, there was no need to reinvent the wheel. And yet this author tried. Other annoyances: I quickly tired of one anecdote after another - many of them theologically questionable and reeking of the kind of idealistic immaturity that has shipwrecked one naive, inexperienced, but well intentioned Christian after another. In the end I felt like I was just listening to another theologically compromised manifesto for the next Christian cultural fad train wreck - and I've seen them come and seen them go. Further, while the author talks about his research he rarely cites it. Apparently, we're just supposed to take him at his word? Folks, that's NOT how good scholarship works. Finally, the author seems to be so taken with stories and anecdotes that he failed to plumb these case studies against scripture to see how they hold up theologically. I stunned to see that almost no scripture is cited in this book. Friends, that's NOT the sign of a truly great Christian work. The assumption here seems to be, "Well I perceive it as bearing fruit and it feels groovy - so God must be behind it, right?" Houston, we have a problem here - haven't we seen this rocket self destruct before? Thankfully I see from other reviews here and elsewhere that I wasn't the only one who saw this. The best thing that I can say about this work is that it was only 4 CDs so I only had to suffer for a little bit under 4-hours listening to essentially the same faddish, "this is the new Christian formula to change and restore the world" tome that other crash and burn faddists have published over the multiple decades that I've been a Christian. Books like this one have been around for decades. They come and they go like ships in the night, sometimes carrying gold, often carrying empty cargo, but most often carrying toxins. This book is a little of them all. As another reviewer said well, "the New Christians look an awful lot like the Old Christians" and I agree. Or as one reviewer said well, "there is a lot of food for thought here and a lot of good diagnosis but also a lot of wrong assumptions and vague or imperfect prescriptions for how the Christians should live in the world." All I would add to both assessments is . . . Amen! There truly is nothing new under the sun. And the Master's marching orders remain: "Occupy till I come." (Luke 19:13, KJV). Now if you'll excuse me, there's work to be done. There's a world to be redeemed here.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Josh Morgan

    This review first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café. I recently had the privilege of receiving a complimentary copy of Gabe Lyons' The Next Christians from christianaudio's reviewer program. Lyons addresses the common perception that Christianity is dying. Taking a sort of sociological perspective, he describes the shift of the Christian environment over the past century, particularly in the United States. He also discusses two primary types of Christian engagement with the culture. The first grou This review first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café. I recently had the privilege of receiving a complimentary copy of Gabe Lyons' The Next Christians from christianaudio's reviewer program. Lyons addresses the common perception that Christianity is dying. Taking a sort of sociological perspective, he describes the shift of the Christian environment over the past century, particularly in the United States. He also discusses two primary types of Christian engagement with the culture. The first group is Separatists, who set themselves apart from the culture and have little engagement with it. They focus on faith, not works. One the other extreme are the Cultural Christians, who blend into the cultural landscape, and their faith is more of tradition and heritage than a life. They focus on works, not faith. Then he describes an emerging type: the Restorationists. These Christians emphasize both faith and works, seeing a faith lifestyle as very different from the surrounding culture, but also seeing living within the culture as critical. As Lyons states, the goal of a Restoration mindset is to make the world "as it ought to be." While Lyons presents the information in the book in a sort of descriptive sociological framing, he is, in fact, presenting a more prescriptive argument. In other words, he is not being objective, noting trends from the outside, but rather, he is part of the restorationist movement and truly advocating for that position. He make this argument well. The stories he tells from his own life and those of others shows the great potential for creativity to bring restoration to a fallen world. The fact that he is the narrator for his own audiobook adds additional credibility. I also appreciate this book because it truly presents an incarnational view of Christianity, emphasizing that we are God's hands and feet exactly where we're at. In the spirit of my blog, too, he does a nice job of deconstructing some (recent) traditional trends in Christianity of separatism and cultural Christianity. However, he does not leave the reader (or listener) with a deconstructed mess of a faith (or lack thereof). He truly provides a reconstruction through the restorationist lens. This provides a clear and newfound sense of hope and purpose. If you are not satisfied with the way church organizations and Christians have engaged the world, but know there is still something to your faith, I highly recommend this book. It can be challenging to those who have lived the more separatist or cultural lifestyles. However, he finds strengths in each of the traditions and demonstrated how their goals were honorable. Yet there is a better way. Therefore, Lyons nicely appreciates and respects multiple perspectives and traditions, not denouncing them, but rather showing their weaknesses and how to move to something greater. Such challenges are good when followed with encouragement. Lyons' tome really is more of an encouragement than an indictment, and I think that is a blessing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    I have to be totally upfront and honest about this. When I went to Waterbrook/Multnomah's blogging for books site in order to select a book, I did not want to select this book. There was a choice between this book, The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons, or some novel that had Lifetime movie written all over it. I selected this book anyways because I figured it would be interesting enough. Then I could select another book that I actually wanted. (As it turns out, it was a glitch in their website on t I have to be totally upfront and honest about this. When I went to Waterbrook/Multnomah's blogging for books site in order to select a book, I did not want to select this book. There was a choice between this book, The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons, or some novel that had Lifetime movie written all over it. I selected this book anyways because I figured it would be interesting enough. Then I could select another book that I actually wanted. (As it turns out, it was a glitch in their website on the very day I was selecting my next book. I guess I should exercise more patience.) Now you know that Waterbrook/Multnomah does not make me say anything positive about the book. However... I absolutely loved this book. This might get filed under I-can't-believe-I-ever-didn't-want-to-read-this-book. (I know, I have a very lengthy filing system that needs to be worked on.) Gabe Lyons has done an outstanding job with this book. A few years ago he co-authored Unchristian, which I also read. Let's just say it was good, but could be seen as a bit hard and long to get through. The Next Christians uses that as a foundation but goes so much further. It is, at the same time, an honest reflection on what is wrong with the Church and an optimistic view on what we could become. Even as I write that, I realize that is a bit understating the facts. Gabe takes six different topics and details how the next Christians are interested in doing what the Church should always be about. And never fear, the next Christians does not simply refer to those in the youngest generation. Oh no, this is a mind-set. It is a set of values that many of us would say we have, but all of us need to embrace. What he does is simply genius because he does not ask anybody to change what they believe. He offers how we should take those beliefs and apply them differently in the world around us. Just take some of the chapter titles for example; Provoked, not Offended / Creators, not Critics / Grounded, not Distracted / Countercultural, not Relevant. All of it is based on this idea of restoration, best summed up in this quote; God's story is made up of four key parts: creation, fall, redemption, restoration (and ultimately consumation). The truncated Gopel that is often recounted is faithful to the fall and redemption pieces of the story, but largely ignores the creation and restoration components. These missing elements are at the heart of what a new generation of Christians are relearning, and subsequently, retelling. (The Next Christians, page 51) This is great read and a must apply. You can pick up a copy from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing. You can see more of what Gabe does at http://www.qideas.org/

  28. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Butcher

    In 2007 Gabe Lyons collaborated with David Kinnamen in unChristian a book that showed us the reality of societies views about those who label themselves Christian. Since I had a friend gift me a copy, I have quoted and referred friends and others to this important text and their advice for overcoming the poor impression that society has of Christians. In The Next Christians not only tells us how to overcome negative Christian stereotypes, but he tells us who will destroy them. Lyons leaves his In 2007 Gabe Lyons collaborated with David Kinnamen in unChristian a book that showed us the reality of societies views about those who label themselves Christian. Since I had a friend gift me a copy, I have quoted and referred friends and others to this important text and their advice for overcoming the poor impression that society has of Christians. In The Next Christians not only tells us how to overcome negative Christian stereotypes, but he tells us who will destroy them. Lyons leaves his reader excited for the next movement of God through the next Christians, the restorers. These next Christians struggle against the reality of the world seeking to restore creation to what it ought to be not what it is. The restorers place high value on truth, justice, and beauty. Lyons describes in detail the key characteristics of restorers including their high value on calling, community, countercultural behavior, active engagement with culture and a firm foundation in Jesus Christ. If Christianity has lost its relevance by removing itself from the center of culture, the restorers are our best hope to return saved people to the culture conversation. The Next Christians is a phenomenal book. Lyons has an ability in his writing to connect all of the dots to things we have all seen in our churches and society in large. As he writes about examples of restorers he knows you begin to think of those in your own life. Those examples that come to mind only further show the truth of Lyons’ writing. Additionally, the book is easy to read due to the engaging material. Honestly, as I got to better understand some of those I interact with, I got excited. I was also challenged with questions about myself as a potential restorer, where I am fighting against the restorers, and how can my own background help sharpen restorers. Lyons’ words lead me to celebrate much of what I do, and also grieve my own non-restorative tendencies. What more can we ask of a book other than lead ourselves down a path of self reflection? The Next Christians also helps reinforce books like Not Like Me. The Next Christians provides a general behavioral overview of restorers, while Eric Bryant in Not Like Me describes the relational toolbox of restorers, though he never makes that claim. The Next Christians is an important book that we as the church need to be discussing and acting on so we can move the Jesus conversation back to the center of the cultural dialogue. Review Copy Provided by WaterBrook Multnomah

  29. 5 out of 5

    Seth Comfort

    I just finished reading The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons and I would say that it was fantastic. This is his follow up book to UnChristian and I would highly recommend both books. He breaks this book down into three parts: The World is Changing, The Restorers, A New Era Part I: The World is Changing He starts off the book by talking about the shift that is taking place in America today. Through research Lyons states that the church is now longer the center of culture in the West. Christian America I just finished reading The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons and I would say that it was fantastic. This is his follow up book to UnChristian and I would highly recommend both books. He breaks this book down into three parts: The World is Changing, The Restorers, A New Era Part I: The World is Changing He starts off the book by talking about the shift that is taking place in America today. Through research Lyons states that the church is now longer the center of culture in the West. Christian America is changing, but Lyons goes on to introduce the next Christians that are emerging, he calls these Christians "restorers". He talks about how the next Christians are trying to restore life to what God intended it to be. That is why Christ came, to satisfy our sin debt so that we could experience a new way of living: restoration. Lyons says "They recognize that Christ's redemptive work is not the end or even the goal of our stories; redemption is the beginning of our participation in God's work of restoration in our lives and in the world. Understanding that one idea literally changes everything." I could agree with him more. Part II: The Restorers In part 2, Lyons unpacks a few attributes or themes of these next Christians, they are: provoked, not offended creators, not critics called, not employed grounded, not distracted live in community, rather than alone He unpacks each of these themes and gives examples of people he knows who are living these themes. Part III: A New Era In part 3 he wraps up his book by talking about what is possible in the future. He reminds the reader that the first thing for the Christian to do is to recover the Gospel, in a way to relearn and fall in love again with good news of God's love. He drives home that we are easily sidetracked with distractions but the truth of the Gospel is the main thing. All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was both challenging and encouraging. It is a call to examine the daily choices that I am making and how my daily life does impact the Kingdom of God. We, the church, are called to restore God's plan here on Earth. Gabe Lyons not only challenged me with this book but he also gave solutions and examples of how restoration could look in my community, state, country and world wide. It is exciting to read some of the stories of people making a difference in the world and encouraging to know small choice also make a difference, maybe not in the world but in my neighborhood!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Isaac

    Chapter most anticipated: Called, not employed Most surprising chapter: Grounded, not distracted I really enjoyed reading 'The Next Christians'. I came across qideas.org for the first time a little over a year ago, and have been blessed by many of the articles on the website. Lyons presents a class of Christians who are committed to living redemptive lives. To be sure, living a redemptive life, in this book, does not 'just' mean you have been saved by Jesus. Lyons goes much further in exploring Ch Chapter most anticipated: Called, not employed Most surprising chapter: Grounded, not distracted I really enjoyed reading 'The Next Christians'. I came across qideas.org for the first time a little over a year ago, and have been blessed by many of the articles on the website. Lyons presents a class of Christians who are committed to living redemptive lives. To be sure, living a redemptive life, in this book, does not 'just' mean you have been saved by Jesus. Lyons goes much further in exploring Christian living after belief in Jesus. If your idea of Christianity is only about a personal relationship with Jesus, then you will probably have a hard time reading this book. Lyons argues from the standpoint that Jesus calls his followers restore the entirety of creation. He calls those who live this way "Restorers" and "the next Christians". These are individuals who are already bringing about redemption in all areas of life. Whether through relationships, working normal jobs, creating film and art, engaged with the political sphere or serving the poor and powerless, the next Christians understand that redemption effects all of life and God is using his people to restore the world. I breezed through the book. I am quite familiar with the individuals who have been the foundation for Lyons theology. If you are looking for a thorough theological argument for his ideology, you may be a bit disappointed because this is not the point of the book. Lyons presents different ways in which Christians tend to respond to culture and invites the reader to join his alternative countercultural method, one which I personally agree with and work very hard to live out. Lyons does give very basic theology using the words of Jesus, the OT prophets, and the book of Genesis in particular to layout his argument, but exploring them more will have to be done elsewhere. If you want to read more in depth about Lyons points of view, he mentions several other sources within his book (Andy Crough, NT Wright, Chuck Colson, to name a few) for a more in-depth reading. Personally, I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone who is skeptical or just confused about Christianity in the West. Really, no matter where you come from, you will relate to many of his descriptions of Christian living and hopefully to some of the stories he puts forth as solutions. An excellent weekend read!

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