While driving to my childhood home during the Holidays, I had the chance to listen to Gabe Lyons new book, The Next Christians. I really enjoyed Lyons first book unChristian and the Next Christians picks up were unChristians left off.
The Next Christians explores the changing environment of Christianity and suggests that modern Christians need to move from cynicism, hypocrisy, and apathy to a more loving, accepting and non-judgemental form of faith.
Studies indicate the Church no longer occupies the central place of influence it has in the past. Lyons reflects on the demise of the Moral Majority, the rise of the New Atheism, and the shift toward pluralism, postmodernism, and a more generic spirituality in our culture today.
Lyons also identifies the distinct groups of Christians today and how they deal with the cultural shift.
Separatists criticise the world and seek to create a Christian Only sub-culture in which they attempt to keep the world separate from themselves. Thus creating an "Us Versus Them" mentality in the faith. They tend to be your more vocal, hard liners and protesters withing Christianity.
Cultural Christians seek to fit in with the world due to criticism by the media, culture and friends and move more toward a vanilla faith rather than outward expression of their faith. They tend to live their lives by biblical standards, pray and identify themselves as Christians but may not be actively involved in the Church.
Restorers however seek to blend the best of both worlds. They stick to their strong Christian roots and the teachings of the Bible but express this by reaching out to the lost world with an un-judgemental hand of love and grace with a striking similarity to Jesus' own ministry while on earth.
Lyons identifies six characteristics of Restorers:
- Provoked, not offended
- Creators, not critics
- Called, not employed
- Grounded, not distracted
- In community, not alone
- Counter-cultural, not “relevant”
Lyons goes more in depth into modern day Restorers who are fighting addiction, modern slavery, and sex-trafficking as well as others who are passionately dedicated to restoration in smaller but equally meaningful ways.
While this book breathes new life into the younger Christian generation and what we need to do to face the world currently, I am sure it will ruffle the feathers of Hard Lined Christians. It challenges Christians to embrace the world and work with it rather than condemn and criticise it. This is easy to say but hard to do, especially in conservative evangelical circles.
Overall, I think Lyons presented a great treatise on what future Christians will look like both good and bad and he also added many of his references for readers to dig into more in-depth.
The Next Christians is definitely worth reading or listening to on a commute and while I listed this post as off topic, I am now seeing that this post may in fact be very relevant to how we rasie and prepare our future children to carry the faith and love the world.
If I can raise my children to love God and express that love through outward expressions of love and grace to the world, I have accomplished my mission.