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The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Praise for The Next Christians and Gabe Lyons
“Gabe Lyons leads an important group of younger Christians who are seeking to avoid both the triumphalism as well as the cultural withdrawal of former generations of believers. We all have a long way to go as we think out how Christ relates to culture in our day. As we do so, we would do well to consider many of the significant insights that Gabe offers in this book.”
—Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City
“The Next Christians is a revolution tightly packaged within a book. As a pastor, it was game changing for me and the people of my church…every person should read it. This is the future!”
—John Ortberg, best-selling author and pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church
“Gabe Lyons is one of the brightest young Christian leaders I’ve worked with and mentored. I’ve challenged his thinking; he has challenged mine—as he does again with his latest book, The Next Christians. I recommend this book, which will give you great insight into the hopes and aspirations of the next generation of Christian leaders.”
—Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview
“If I had to pick one leader for the next generation for Christians, it would be Gabe Lyons. If I had to pick one chapter from this book, it would be ‘Relearning Restoration.’ If I had to pick one sentence it would be this one: Christ didn’t come only to save us ‘ from something. He wanted to save Christians to something.’ Gabe Lyons gets it: restoration is the vision for the Next Christians, and I’m cheering them on.”
—Scot McKnight, New Testament scholar and author of The Jesus Creed
“The Next Christians is the best book you’ll read this year. Filled with stories of hope and grace, it’s a passionate call to join followers of Jesus everywhere in restoring the faith. You can’t afford to miss it!”
—Margaret Feinberg, author of Scouting the Divine and The Organic God
“At a time when a central challenge to faith is to be both faithful and fresh, Gabe Lyons’s is a voice I always listen to and benefi t from enormously.”
—Os Guinness, cultural historian and author of The Last Christian on Earth
“It seems an impossible task: restore a 2,000-year-old religion so that it no longer rejects, no longer chases, but actually leads a modern, pluralistic culture running at the speed of Twitter. Gabe Lyons offers hope for Christianity’s next one hundred years by profiling the next set of Christians transcending this epic challenge. I found his preview of Christian innovators inspiring post-Christian America persuasive and one of the most encouraging views of Christian faith in recent years.”
—Kevin Kelly, cofounder of Wired magazine
“The Next Christians is a must-read for anyone seeking to engage a broken world with the healing power of the Gospel. Provocative, yet massively optimistic, Gabe Lyons’s message challenges the ‘Christianity vs. Culture’ paradigm of the recent past with the hopeful template of ‘Christ as restorer of humanity,’ worked out through a new breed of Jesus followers, who are unashamedly running into the darkness—broken-yet-loved ambassadors for the One who makes all things new.”
—Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church and founder of the Passion Movement
“What Lyons gives us here, in spades and with proof texts, is the good news about the state of the Good News in tomorrow’s America. Those who have despaired that even the label ‘Christian’ might be tarnished beyond credibility, much less affection and influence, will find a thousand reasons to rejoice here. Chock-full of examples and stories, Lyons’s work also is full of brilliant insights and piercing applications of traditional verbiage to new ways of being in this world.”
—Phyllis Tickle, founding religion editor, Publishers Weekly
“We’re in an important time in Christianity. Leaders are considering the Gospel, its implications, and how we might live faithfully in the world we find ourselves. Gabe Lyons is an important voice in that conversation. In The Next Christians, he sets out a vision for Christians making a difference in the world. You should read this book and wrestle with his ideas as we consider together how we might be faithful to the Gospel in today’s world.”
—Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research; coauthor of Transformational Church
“The Next Christians is not about rehashing stale debates or reliving the culture wars. It is not about empty ideologies or even about branding a movement—it is about reading the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other and listening to God say, ‘Come change the world with me.’ ”
—Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and recovering sinner
“Gabe Lyons articulates a fresh and inspiring vision for bringing Christian faith forward in the new cultural paradigm of 21st-century America. May this become the predominant expression of Christianity for an up-and-coming generation of ‘next Christians’ and those of us who are counting on them.”
—Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today’s Board of Contributors and author of Onward Christian Athletes
“Gabe Lyons is a contemporary innovator who possesses relevant insight and profound foresight relative to Christ, culture, and the next generation of Christians. This must read book will inspire you and guide you to a new place of purposeful passion!”
—Charles Jenkins, senior pastor, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church
“The prophet Isaiah declared that God would do a new thing. In The Next Christians, Gabe Lyons frames the narrative of a new Christian movement emerging in our lifetime. While addressing the challenges before us, Gabe presents the facilitative platform for the followers of Jesus to reconcile righteousness with justice under a canopy of compassion and love. This book will challenge us to embrace change as we welcome a fresh move of God’s Spirit.”
—Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
“The Lord has given a great mind and incredible wisdom to Gabe Lyons to be able to speak with such clarity and such understanding of the times. You will be greatly blessed and will desire to turn the next page, only to come to the end and then wish to pass this book along to a good friend so that others can be as informed as you are.”
—Pastor Johnny Hunt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Gabe Lyons was at the top of the Christian food chain several years ago. He was a graduate of Liberty University, Vice President of a prominent Christian organization, and co-founder of Catalyst, the nation s largest gathering of young Christian leaders. There was only one problem: he was embarrassed to be called Christian. So Lyons set out on a personal journey, leaving his comfortable job to found Q (qideas.org), a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common good. He also commissioned stunning research, which became the basis of his landmark book, UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity and Why It Matters. As a respected voice for a new generation of Christians, he has been featured by CNN, The New York Times, Newsweek, and USA Today. Gabe, his wife Rebekah, and their three children live in New York City.
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Let me begin with why I think the book has much value, in spite of my ultimate disappointment in it. Gabe Lyons has, in most cases, done a good job of diagnosing some of the problems with contemporary American Christianity. He's right to discern that Christians who are merely what he calls "Insiders," "Culture Warriors," "Evangelizers," "Blenders," and "Philanthropists" have not always been good representatives of Jesus Christ. Lyons has also correctly diagnosed the fact that the American culture has changed profoundly in recent decades and that many Christians have not adapted well to these changes.
Lastly, he presents a lot of good tools for understanding different kinds of Christians (including the typology of 5 kinds of Christians above). Another excellent analysis he presents is the 7 channels of cultural influence employed by the gay movement very successfully. These 7 channels are: Media, Education, Arts and Entertainment, Business, Government, Social Sector, and Church. Unfortunately, Christians have not acted very much like light in these 7 spheres. Because Christians who want to "restore" the world, instead of blending with it or retreating from it, will often be tempted to become like it, Lyons wisely lists 5 practices that will discipline "Next Christians" in their quest to engage and restore the world:
1. Immersed in Scripture (Instead of Entertainment)
2. Observing the Sabbath (Instead of Being Productive)
3. Fasting for Simplicity (Instead of Consuming)
4. Choosing Embodiment (Instead of Being Divided)
5. Postured by Prayer (Instead of Power)
By correctly diagnosing many of the problems with American Christianity today and offering some general guidance to help Christians engage the world more meaningfully, "The Next Christians" will be a great help to many Christians.
You knew there was a "But . . . " coming, and here it is.
First of all, Lyons keeps referring to his research upon which he bases many of his claims - and yet he never provides much at all. It may reside in his other book, "UnChristian", but it was the author's job to present it in the current volume as well.
Second, Lyons makes it sound if "The Next Christians" are very different from their immediate ancestors. He believes that they are better prepared to be "Restorers" and not compromisers or judgers. However, he provides little evidence that this is true. In fact, the research shows that young Christians today have a very shallow faith that has been termed "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism" and bears little relationship to true Christianity. (See "Soul Searching" by Smith and Denton for the best and most up to date research on the spiritual state of American teens.) Where are all of these "Next Christians" he keeps talking about? He assumes that this generation is a generation of seekers of truth, but the truth is that this generation is no more or less seeking after truth than any other. If you read the Bible closely, or church history or the sociology of religion, then you will know that this generation is not as different or noble as Lyons makes them out to be. The fact is, calling oneself a "seeker" or "spiritual" doesn't mean you're truly seeking God or will accept Him when He comes to you. Lyons underestimates the sinfulness of this generation, and sin in general. Lyons blasts previous generations for being judgmental and hypocritical. Well, join the club: so has every generation of Christians, including the "Next Christians." He blasts the previous generation of Christians for being judged by the media and non-Christians to be judgmental and intolerant. But what does he think was the judgment of Christ, Paul, and the early church by the non-Christians and media of their day?
Third, Lyons talks a lot about Christianity and "Next Christians" but relatively little about Jesus Christ and how we should make disciples of Jesus Christ. Where is his call for a radical dedication to Jesus Christ, not just to being open and tolerant and willing to engage the world? He doesn't adequately answer the "What" of how we are to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples of the nations. Yes, he does a good job of giving examples of how we can engage the world, but he falls short in getting at the root of the Christian life.
Fourth, he rightly recognizes that authentic community is one of the desperate needs for this generation, but he only lists the Church as "one of the best places for this kind of community." In fact, the Church has always been THE place that genuinely embodies the community of love that originates in the relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity and then becomes ours as we join the Body of Jesus Christ, the Church. This generation of Christians needs to gain a new and glorious vision for the Church, imperfect as she is, as the very Body of Christ and the means of His presence on earth. Lyons only plays into the current fashionable bashing of the Church.
In summary, 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.
Lyons writes: "The next Christians often show up where you least expect, in every channel of culture and every sphere of social interaction. From college suites, concerts, and entrepreneurial start-ups to social networking destinations and work. These Christians will show up in their schools, participate in volunteer programs, support civic government, read medical research, be proponents for a just prison system, plant community gardens, be patrons of art festivals and local coffee shops. They will be the most enthusiastic about human rights campaigns, interreligious dialogue, and will be known on the streets of their neighborhoods. You'll begin to recognize the restorers in your own life and perhaps discover that this way of being Christian is what you've been longing for." (pp. 67-68)
What follows are stories of people who are living out the six characteristics of NextChristians. You will find the examples of these people to be both challenging and compelling. I am encouraged that there is a new generation of Christians who are starting a new reformational wave that will redefine the church. My only regret is that I am not 20 years younger so that I could be in the middle of it all but that does not excuse me from being part of this wave of NextChristians. Lyons writes:
"For you, the call is literally within your grasp. It's the place where you show up each day and the problems you encounter in the process. Possibly, for you its putting a dent in the never-ending cycle of poverty that destroys so many lives, neighborhoods, and nations. Or creatively addressing the malnutrition, poor health, and disease that's wrecking so many families. Or tutoring, mentoring, and fostering fatherless children. Perhaps the addiction to drugs, alcohol, career advancement, affluence, or pornography is what enslaves and torments your friends the most. Whatever it is that's broken, whatever you see wrong, remember - God's intention and method of restoration is to use you to bring his redeeming love to the world." (pp. 203-204)
I have purchased copies of NextChristian for my father-in-law (read his review here tomorrow) and my daughter and son-in-law. I think this book is required reading for all generations of Christ-followers to read and consider their response.
*I participate in the Books for Bloggers program of Waterbrook Multnomah publishers and was provided a copy of the book to review without a requirement for a positive review.*