The Next Christians: How a New Generation is Restoring The Faith by Gabe Lyons was even better than I expected it to be. It was refreshing and to the point, with solid research, meaningful illustrations and relevant applications.I had this on my shelf for a couple months now, and it was in my reading list for this month, but when a friend suggested it, I bumped it up first on the list and read it in two days. We are now using this book for a young leaders event that we are doing in April to network and encourage pastors in our conference.
Lyons, who works with Q (kind of a Jesus-ified TED), has done research for a few years now and is seeing trends in emerging christianity that matter and will shape future expressions of christianity, in the western world. I really appreciate his take because he does not descend into despari and begin to motivate people with fear, which would sell more books for sure. Rather, Lyons sees a hopeful future for christianity in america, jsut one that may not closely resemble the mainline and/or evangelical structures that we currently see.
If you are at all interested in future expressions of Christianity in America, this book will be insightful and inspiring to you. I mean seriously, when you find yourself underlining parts of the endnotes, you know you’ve found a decent text!
Here’s some stunningly interesting material from the book:
- p.8, quoting Billy Graham, “Back when we did these big crusades in football stadiums and arenas, the Holy Spirit was really moving – and people were coming to Christ as we preached the Word of God…But today I sense that the Holy Spirit is working in a new way. He’s moving through people where they work and through one-on-one relationships to accomplish great things. They are demonstrating God’s love to those around them, not just with words, but in deed.”
- p.28, “These Christians sense the deep hunger for meaning and purpose in the lives of their friends. They recognize these longings aren’t really all that new. They are actually quite old and completely human. In the midst of change, the promise of good news is palpable. For those attuned to it, enormous possibilities await.”
- p.30, “Christianity has become a parody of itself”
- p.35, “…when the faithful saturate their schedules with Christian events at Christian venues with Christian people, the world has a hard time believing we hold the rest of the world in high esteem.”
- p.37, “evangelizers see it as themost important or only interaction they can have in the world. For them, the ability, courage, and boldness to witness – in hopes of winning converts – is the defining mark of the truly faithful.”
- p.43, “The Gospel is a radical call to a stark existence, not a shallow assimilation.”
- p.52, “Knowing God’s image exists in every human being explains why all of us – not just Christians – know how to love and be generous, creative, kind, and caring.”
- p.79, “God’s holiness did not prevent him from entering our messy depravity; it provoked him to show up.”
- p.95, “Andy Crouch, in his seminal book Culture Making, reminds us that these approaches aren’t best. Cultures aren’t changed by being condemned, critiqued, or copied. He concludes, ‘The only way to change culture is to create more of it.’ “
- p.96, “…each cultural artifact tells a story about the inventor’s view of the world.”
- p.132, “Success on the new Christian frontier looks a lot like Daniel’s. By observing a few crucial practices, the next Christians are restoring brokenness without disconnecting from the Restorer himself.”
- p.171, “Today, the latest influence on the pop culture-driven church is the push to be involved in social justice work. Many churches that have showed little interest in justice work before are now simply following the latest social fad. They need to draw in a younger crowd, so social ministry has become another way to appear relevant. Taken to its logical conclusion, the pursuit of pop-culture relevance creates an endless cycle that removes the church (Christians) from its historically prophetic position in society.”
- p.202, “Bubbling just underneath the surface, the next Christians are looking for others who have found this new, old way of serving Jesus. They are on the lookout for language, stories, and models that will assist them in pioneering this new frontier.”