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Multnomah Books The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook

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Customer Reviews for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
Review 1 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
This review is fromThe Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America.
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Accurate diagnosis of the current church & next g

Date:May 14, 2012
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The Reformed Reader
Location:Louisville
Age:25-34
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Gabe Lyons in his most recent book The Next Christians addresses the question, “What will the church look like in the next generation?” In order to answer this question, Lyons addresses the current state of the Church. Lyons examines issues in which the church has held onto and claimed as Christian, which were honestly only cultural beliefs. Lyons accomplishes this through using the example of Jerry Falwell. Falwell was notorious for making things which were cultural biases and taboos to be things which were objectively Christian. Now that these cultural biased and taboos have gone away, Christians are left with the option to let them go and progress with culture. The other option is to treat these things as dogmas of the church and be left behind. A very sad reality is that many churches have adopted cultural biases and taboos as objective truth within Christianity and as a result these churches have become culturally insignificant. Jerry Falwell is picturesque in portraying these things. Often times Falwell would come across as saying that the only option for Christians would be to vote republican. Futhermore, drinking alcohol could be equated with sin. The mental image one receives when thinking of a Fundamental-KJV- Only church is the very thing which Lyons is attacking here.
Lyons argues that these old traditional forms of Christianity which are absent from the culture are disappearing and becoming non-relevant. Lyons then argues that a new form of Christianity is replacing it. This new Christianity is typified as one’s which engages culture and seeks to transform it. Lyons argues that Christian takes part in the marco-restoration of all things. For Lyons these new Christians are making right the things which have been wronged by sin. The new Christians are declaring through their actions that Christ is king and Lord over all. The modern Church lives in isolation and promotes individualism. Lyons argues that the next generation of Christians exist in community and in union with one another. Lyons argues that this macro-restoration takes place by Christian participating in community. The Christian is seeking to transform and fight against civil unrest. Rather than simply preaching against abortion, the next generation of the church seeks to provide a means to help families adopt. The next generation of the church is not simply of body of complainers, but it a group that seeks to declare Christ is King through their actions and lifestyle. The next generation church is a group that offers a solution, rather than complains about the problem.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. This book gives feet to the ton of literature that is currently being put on the topic of restorative/redemptive calling of the Christian. I found the book to be extremely practical. The book offers a ton of application and suggestions as to how a church can actively seek to engage its community. This book is unique in that it not only identifies a currently problem within the church, but it offers a solutions, and points out those who are already participating in that solution. I would highly recommend purchasing this book.
~RR~
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Review 2 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Great info about the next generation

Date:April 9, 2012
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Chris Land
Location:Wichita Falls, Tx
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Many Christians are concerned about the future. Not about when Jesus is coming back, but about the future of Christianity. We keep reading reports of young Christians leaving the faith especially teens after they leave High School. Some would say, "Christianity's worst days are ahead of us."
Gabe Lyons has another opinion. He believes that Christianity's best days are ahead. This is what Lyons' latest book The Next Christians is all about. The subtitle to the books refers to the seven ways Christians can live the gospel and restore the world.
The book is divided into three parts. The first part deals with the changing world around us. Lyons talks about all the cultural shifts that has happened in our world especially what is now the new normal. The second part deals with what Christians can do to bring about change in their world. One chapter deals with Christians accepting their job as a calling not an employment. Lyons wrote, The next Christians don't work at jobs; they serve in vocations. They see their occupational placement as part of God's greater mission. This view is natural and holistic, and fits within the everyday rhythms of most people's lives.
The last part of the book, which also contains the final chapter of the book, talks about the next big shift that is going to happen with the church. That next big shift is Christians rediscovering the gospel. Lyons said that Christians need to relearn and fall in love again with the historic, beautiful, redemptive, faithful, demanding, reconciling, all-powerful, restorative, atoning, grace-abounding, soul-quenching, spiritually fulfilling good news of God's love.
This book offers great insight into what Christians in the next generation need to do be more effective in the coming years. Great book for all pastors, youth pastors, young adult pastors, and all who care about what Christians in the near future need to do.
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Review 3 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

How to Engage the Next Christians

Date:March 20, 2012
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ewarren
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Much research and study has been executed regarding "The Next Christians." Not just by Lyons, but by others such as Ed Stetzer, Tim Elmore, David Kinnaman, and many others. This is likely the most studied generation in history.
Lyons' approach in "The Next Christians" is different though. He is hopeful of them which is a rarity. But his hope is not in the generation, his hope is in God. He believes, and knows, that our cultural milieu did not come as a shock to God. God knew it was going to happen because God is omniscient.
Don't let that get your hopes up too high though. Even Lyons is ready to admit that "Christian America" is dead. Pluralism, postmodernism, technology, and so on have all had their grips on the minds of Americans, and the rest of the World, for some time now. It has been a works in progress. Some saw it developing, others were duped, but no one has successfully led a defensive against the secular attack on the Christian faith. However, the criticisms most give Gen Y is the same reason Lyons sees hope.
Just as every generation has been fed up with their predecessor, with the exception of Gen X who to this day still do not seem to care about much. Gen Y, "the next Christians," seem to care a great deal though. They've seen what pessimism and apathy breed and they don't like it. While they have a lot of issues that must be dealt with, Lyons does not see them as all together bad. They are disordered and are in need of restoration. For this to occur, Lyons suggests we need to reevaluate our dependency on the Holy Spirit who has the power to change lives unlike us.
Ultimately, Lyons points out "seven channels of cultural influence" he suggests we need to restore. Christians can do this by discovering their calling and pursuing it out of faith and dependency on God.
This happens in relationship and community. Lyons, referring to Phyllis Tickle's book "The Great Emergence," believes we are about to enter into a huge shift in Christianity. He points out the great shifts that occur about every 500 years and we are due if this is the case. So be alert. This next generation may be bring the birth of the greatest shift in Christianity since the Reformation.
I recommend Lyons' book though I cannot agree on everything. He makes a lot of great points and observes "the next Christians" quite well I believe.
*I received this book from the publisher to provide a review. I was not required to give positive feedback.
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Review 4 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Updated and expanded paperback edition

Date:March 16, 2012
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Anonymous
Location:Bellingham, WA
Age:25-34
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4 out of 5
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The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons is built on one crucial insight, with two corollaries. The insight is that the culture wars are over. The corollaries are that 1) Christians lost, and 2) that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Sure, you sometimes hear people trying to whip up support for another offensive in the culture wars. There is no shortage of “Christian Nation” and “Take Back America” rhetoric, but generally speaking these salvos come from people who are over 50 or so years old. They grew up in a time and place where Christianity had more cultural power than it does now, and they think that because they experienced it in the past, it just takes a little wielding of political might to experience it again. However, those who are younger—those whom Lyons calls “the next Christians”—have a different perspective. They grew up in a time when Christianity had already started its slip away from the center of society, and they believe that fighting a culture war is a destructive response—and not just to the “other side.”
This is my second go-round with The Next Christians. I read the hardcover version last year (here is my review), and picked up the paperback version when it came out earlier this month. I’m glad that I did; Lyons has made the book stronger with the addition of a new chapter.
The paperback is mostly the same as the hardcover, but includes a new subtitle (“The Good News About the End of Christian America” is replaced by “Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World”) and a new chapter on a seventh characteristic of the Next Christians: “Civil, Not Divisive.” That means the characteristics of the “next Christians” are that they are:
Provoked, not Offended
Creators, not Critics
Called, not Employed
Grounded, not Distracted
In Community, not Alone
Civil, not Divisive
Countercultural, not “Relevant”
The “Civil, not Divisive” chapter is a welcome addition. Too often, Christians in the public square subscribe to the “but they started it” school of political engagement, using fear-mongering and tit-for-tat tactics to gain support. Jesus calls us to a better, more gracious, way. The chapter also contains the important idea, which I originally heard from Tim Keller, that politics is downstream of culture (78). That is, it is changes in culture that make political change possible. Putting all of one’s eggs in the basket of political change is a short-sighted philosophy.
Along with a different political outlook, the “next Christians” have a fuller understanding of the gospel. Lyons writes, "The next Christians believe that Christ’s death and Resurrection were not only meant to save people from something. He wanted to save Christians to something. God longs to restore his image in them, and let them loose, freeing them to pursue his original dreams for the entire world. Here, now, today, tomorrow. They no longer feel bound to wait for heaven or spend all of their time telling people what they should believe. Instead, they are participating with God in his restoration project for the whole world" (53).
“Restoring the world” can sound a bit grandiose, but I think Lyons is merely trying to direct attention to the grand calling given to humans by Christ. He isn’t saying that restoration can happen apart from Christ, and he isn’t saying that evangelism isn’t important.
My main critique is that Lyons’s cultural analysis can be a bit oversimplified at times, but I don’t think that is out-of-bounds for a popular level book. He has put his finger on a cultural shift among Christians in the West, and wants to help define and encourage it. I think he’s on the right track.
Note: Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for a review copy of this book. I was not asked to give a positive review.
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Review 5 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
This review is fromThe Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America.
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4 out of 5
4 out of 5

The Next Christians

Date:March 8, 2012
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Steven
I am intrigued by books with unusual titles. I tend to gravitate toward titles that are eye-catching, off-the-wall, or hard-to-believe. When I saw the title of Gabe Lyons’ new book “The Next Christians; Seven Ways You Can Live The Gospel and Restore the World”, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. I wondered who the “next” Christians were. My question was answered in the very beginning of the book. Lyons’ basis for the book comes from a research project conducted by his non-profit organization where he discovered “the Christian faith is quickly losing traction in Western culture, not only as a result of unchristian behavior, as significant as that is, but because we haven’t recognized our new reality and adapted.” The New Christians would be those who, in the future, will act, react, and love differently than those today. Lyons goes on to say “They want to be a force of restoration in a broken world even as we proclaim the Christian Gospel. They want the label Christian to mean something good, intelligent, authentic, true, and beautiful.”
Lyons sets the stage for the bulk of his work by taking a look at the five labels that Christian wear today. First, he describes the Insiders. Their lives revolve primarily around “Christian” activities, influences, and people. Next, he describes Culture Warriors. These Christians are about causes and believe that being Christian and American are synonymous. Next, Lyons describes Evangelizers. Their sole purpose in life is getting people saved no matter what, no matter how, and no matter where. Blenders are described next. They do their best to ride the fence between Christian beliefs and modern culture. As a result, they become uncomfortable in both. He then describes the Philanthropists. These Christians place a high value on doing good works and service.
Lyons uses the term “restorers” to describe the “Next Christians”. He describes their passion in the following way, “telling others about Jesus is important, but conversion isn’t their only motive. Their mission is to infuse the world with beauty, grace, justice, and love.” The majority of the book is spent giving the seven descriptions of what the “next” Christians will look like. Briefly, “restorers” are:
Provoked - Darkness and brokenness do not offend them, rather urge them to act.
Creators - Instead of criticizing the past, they create a new, more focused future.
Called - Secular jobs are places of service.
Grounded - Christ is the center of their lives. He’s their anchor.
Community - Individualism is the not the best venue for connection.
Civil - Meaningful conversations are essential in communicating with those of opposing views.
Countercultural - Passion exists to replace the negative image of Christianity with a positive one
Lyons has written a great book. It is humorous in parts, witty, angering, and instructive all at the same time. It is an easy read. This book would be beneficial for Christians of all ages and generations. I highly recommend.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 6 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Thought Provoking and Challenging

Date:March 6, 2012
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pkerry319
Location:Waukee, IA
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It is always a tricky business when someone tries to make predictions about the future of Christianity. I am reminded of the many trends and fads that have swept the church in my brief forty plus years of life. We are a culture of fads and trends, always running after the newest and the latest and the greatest. I was tempted to take this attitude with The Next Christians.
Instead, I found myself being challenged to think not about fads and trends, but about substance and philosophy of ministry that left me with many questions about the way we do church in my context. The key concepts of restoration and the common good run like a thread through a presentation of seven expressions of Christianity that are becoming a heartbeat for the western church in the 21st century.
Missing from this presentation is supernatural workings of God in signs, wonders, and miracles that I also feel are impacting and will continue to impact a culture that has become less and less influenced by Christianity. Names like Bill Johnson and Randy Clark are conspicuously left out of this presentation, which is a major oversight in my mind.
Overall, I would highly recommend this to any ministry leader who is trying to identify how to engage in the culture of the 21st century in a genuine expression of the Kingdom of God. You will definitely be challenged and provoked to think and act in ways that are more consistent with the heart of Christ.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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Review 7 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
This review is fromThe Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America.
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Challenging and inspiring, a Must read for Christi

Date:October 5, 2011
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tfkr
Location:Grand Rapids, MI
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The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America
By Gabe Lyons
Gabe Lyons really hits it home with The Next Christians. The book itself was an easy read when it comes to the content and time it took to read, but it takes time to process and see how it is impacting you. This book is not one to take lightly it is a book that challenges the reader to ask themselves, what are they doing as Christians to make an impact on those around us. This book has hit me at a time in my life where i have been asking myself whats next, how do I do this thing called my Christian Walk and living in Community with others. After reading it I have no clearer answers but I do realize that there are others with the same struggle and battle.
Lyons talks about the fact that we are coming to a point in time that we must "reenvision" what our faith is, how it plays out, or should i say how it is lived out. We need to find a way to help those around us to experience the Christian faith in such a way that it meets their deep spiritual needs. Current or past Christianity does not necessarily do that. Our church's are making less of an impact on the people that attend and less of an impact on the communities they minister to.
Lyons discusses the 6 Characteristics that set "Next Christians" apart: 1. Being provoked and not offended. 2. Creators, not critics. 3. Called, not employed. 4. Grounded, not distracted. 5. In Community, not alone. 6. Countercultural, not "relevant"
The points that I think resonate so personally to me are the Called and not employed and in community and not alone. We are called to a life of ministry not just one vocationally, and we are called to not live our life out alone. These are just two areas that I personally felt and seen God nudging me. I know that there are others. Take a further look into The Next Christians" to be further challenged and inspired to change.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group <http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 8 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
This review is fromThe Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America.
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Thought Provoking, But Misses the Mark

Date:September 8, 2011
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Donald Key
Location:IA
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Offering hope to Christians in America, Gabe Lyons predicts the rise of a robust faith in The Next Christians: How a New Generation Is Restoring the Faith. Characterizing American Christians as either “separatist” or “cultural,” Lyons charts a third way for followers of Christ: “the restorers.” Where the separatist Christians retreat from culture and the cultural Christians capitulate to culture, the restorers engage culture. While this well rounded approach to the Christian life is a helpful corrective to cultural retreat or capitulation, Lyons’ notion that it is the job of Christians to “restore” creation back to God is not well argued from Scripture. In fact, Lyons fails to make a solid case for the supposed mandate of “restoration.” In the place of biblical arguments, Lyons focuses on stories of “successful” restoration accomplished in the lives of Christians. The testimonial aspect of Lyons’ book is rhetorically persuasive because he gives evidence of actual people involved in his vision of restoration. But just because certain people do good things that positively affect others does not mean that Christians are called primarily to restoration. Along the way, Lyons loses the primacy of Gospel proclamation in the lives of Christians. He does not deny the necessity of verbal Gospel proclamation, he just lessens its importance. For Lyons, the Gospel and restoration go hand and hand, and at the end of the day, it is okay if you fail to verbalize the Gospel because restoration “[brings] signs that point to his Kingdom and tangibly [express] his love to those in need” (pg. 93). In contrast to Lyons‘ thesis, the Bible puts forward a creation mandate (Gen 1:26-28), and an expectation that Christians long for and live in the reality of the already/not yet Kingdom of God (Matt 6:10). This means that Christians are to live in the reality of the kingdom of God, without at the same time being motivated to restore creation back to God. Christ is the restorer, which was made possible by his death and resurrection (Col 1:20). It is now the job of Christians to proclaim the Gospel so those who are not worshippers of God are made into worshippers (Matt 28:19). In Gospel transformation, sinners are brought into the Kingdom to live for God’s glory. To live in the reality of Kingdom is quite different than to restore the Kingdom, which is an aspect that Lyons fails to grasp.
While Lyons ultimate thesis misses the mark, his book is helpful in the sense that it describes a well rounded robust faith in Christ. He also thrives at thought provoking analysis of the current landscape of Christendom in America. Therefore, this book is a good resource for thinking about how the Christian life is played out in American culture, but its conclusions prevent it from advancing a sound theological framework for this life.
A special thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, who graciously provided a complementary copy of this book for review.
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Review 9 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Thought Provoking and Encouraging

Date:June 10, 2011
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adn4610
Location:Cleveland, OH
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I first read UnChristian and decided to read this to see how things have changed. There was a time when the thought of the end of Christian America would be a terrible thought. I was amazed at just how encouraging I found this book. I now see better how things are and how God is calling me and others to be involved in the world.
I liked the book so much that I picked up the participant guides and DVD to be able to teach the content.
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Review 10 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
This review is fromThe Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America.
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Descriptively Prescriptive

Date:May 12, 2011
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Rich Noble
Location:New Castle, PA
Descriptively prescriptive. These are the words that immediately come to mind after reading Gabe Lyons’ The Next Christians: How a New Generation is Restoring the Faith (Doubleday, 2010). In this book, Lyons begins by describing the changing reality of America at the beginning of the 21st century – it is pluralistic, postmodern and post-Christian. In such a society the Church has lost her Christian influence and Christians seem to have lost their voice. The first part of the book expands on this and ends with a description of a new generation of Christians who desire and feel compelled to be what Lyons describes as “restorers”, which is described at the end of Chapter 3.
Restorers exhibit the mind-set, humility, and commitment that seem destined to
rejuvenate the momentum of the faith…Their mission is to infuse the world with
beauty, grace, justice, and love…I call them restorers because they envision the
world as it was meant to be and they work toward that vision…They are purposeful
about their careers and generous with their time and possessions. They don’t
separate from the world or blend in; rather, they thoughtfully engage. Fully aware
of the seachange under way, they are optimistic that God is on the move – doing
something unique in our time.
Part Two then describes in detail the six characteristics that Lyons believes sets the next Christians apart. They are 1) Provoked, not offended; 2) Creators, not critics; 3) Called, not employed; 4) Grounded, not distracted; 5) In community, not alone; and, 6) Countercultural, not “relevant”. As he describes these next Christians (based on his research and observations) and provides numerous examples of each characteristic, Lyons not only helps us understand them better, but he also does a great job actually – and I believe intentionally – prescribing for us how Christians ought to live regardless of the times or culture in which they live.
My only real critique of The Next Christians is that sometimes Lyons seems a bit too positive in his outlook of what is happening among younger generations. While I have seen and experienced what he describes in this book, I have also noticed that not all Christians of the younger generations have embraced the characteristics Lyons describes. Of course, that may be his point – to encourage and inspire the next generation of Christians (and Christians of all generations) to be restorers. Even so, I’m not sure I’m ready yet to paint this next generation with the broad strokes of optimism that seem to exist in this book. I would also note here that, while some historical examples of being restorer-like were given, the next Christians seem to be described here as something strikingly new, while there have been restorers all along.
In the end, I would highly recommend The Next Christians to anyone who is interested in gaining some insight into the current landscape of American spirituality and the new “breed” of Christian. In particular, every pastor (whether a Senior Pastor or a staff pastor of any kind) and every Christian college and Christian private school faculty member and staff person should absolutely take the time to read this book – not only to gain some insights into how the younger generations appear to be thinking, but also to be inspired to be a restorer and to engage others to do the same. As a pastor and college professor myself, I have found this book to be an important part of my library and I count it to be one of the more influential books I have read in recent months.
You can read Chapters One and Two of The Next Christians here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/38027891/The-Next-Christians-by-Gabe-Lyons-Excerpt.
A helpful interactive discussion guide, a promotional video and a recorded conversation between Gabe Lyons and Pastor Tim Keller about The Next Christians is also available at http://www.nextchristians.com/church-leaders.aspx.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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Review 11 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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1 out of 5
1 out of 5

"The Next Christians" is dismissive arrogance ...

Date:April 23, 2011
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1 out of 5
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It's nearly impossible to appreciate the multiple good points Gabe Lyons makes in his latest book, "The Next Christians" (published by Double Day) since his message is predicated on a sweeping, arrogant dismissal of most of America's Christians today.
The underlying foundation of his message in this book is Lyons' taking a rather large shovel and packing down the dirt on the grave of Christianity in America, which he proclaims as being dead. At the top of the book cover, in all capital letters, are the words, "THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT THE END OF CHRISTIAN AMERICA." Lyons will try to spin that into a hope for the future, but I don't see anything good --- at all --- in the thought that "Christian America" is dead.
In fact, Lyons' statement is an exaggeration. While Christianity has lost a good deal of influence in American culture, it isn't dead yet, and the church can still revive its standing in this country. But Lyons seems all too happy to toss the dirt on the grave of the church and pack it down tightly.
Lyons is quick to blame many Christians in America today for the demise of the American church. He identifies two camps of Christians as being the chief culprits. First are "Separatists" who are composed of "insiders," culture warriors, and "evangelizers." Next are "Cultural" Christians, who Lyons describes as "blenders" and philanthropists. Basically, any kind of Christian of a more conservative theological background are part of these two overly narrow definitions created by Lyons (with almost no dings to the more liberal theological mindset). To him, their poor behavior has so offended non-believers that the church has lost its influence in America today.
With such great dismissive arrogance, Lyons judges the church, the majority of those who make up the American church today, and finds them guilty.
The good news, according to Lyons, is the hope of the American church is the "next Christians." Not those from previous generations who are still serving today, but the next generation of Christians, who he goes on to describe in the book as if they are perfect manifestations of biblical Christianity.
These "next Christians," according to Lyons, are "restorers." Throughout the book, Lyons has a constant and radical view of restoration, proclaiming that as God's foremost focus. In doing so, Lyons completely misses the point of transformation. God wants to restore some things, but He desires to transform others.
To Lyons, restoration is all about engaging culture. I would agree with the vitality of engaging culture if that's what Lyons meant. But his description of engaging culture is more accurately one of embracing culture. From that mindset, Lyons holds to the idea that doing good, or what he refers to as the "common good for all" is every bit as important as evangelism. Lyons even notes a couple times settings describing the value of doing good, and states that hopefully, along the way, some lost people will get saved. He also writes, "Based on a common good mentality, these Christians aren't confounded by only thinking about how to get people 'saved.' They have freed their minds to dream about how they can serve in God's kingdom."
Lyons' misses multiple points taking such a position. It was Jesus who said there isn't anyone who is good except for God. In order for genuine good to come from us, we have to fix that brokenness we have with God. That requires evangelism. Further, Jesus did not come to do some good deeds and, hopefully from doing so, some would decide to believe in Him as a secondary outcome. Scripture says Jesus came for a specific purpose: to seek and to save the lost.
The church does have a singular mission, given to it by Jesus Christ himself. That mission is to go into all the world and make disciples. As a part of living out the mission and being whole Ambassadors for Christ, many good deeds would flow from the lives of Christians as they live out their faith in practical daily living, while maintaining a primary focus of leading others to Christ.
Finally, Lyons is both hypocritical and inconsistent in his criticisms of today's Christians as he contrasts them to his "next Christians." For example, he tells the personal story of he and his wife having a Downs Syndrome child, and how that highlighted to them a problem with abortion. Lyons writes, "We could have gotten involved the way we'd seen many other Christians engage the abortion issue: by calling it out as murder, joining pro-life protests, helping to elect pro-life candidates, and even carrying the fight to the abortion clinics themselves. Or, we could look for a more solution-oriented way to approach this issue." Lyons' better solution was to design and distribute a booklet.
However, he later uses the success of homosexual activist leaders as an example that can "inform" the church. Lyons writes about these leaders, "In the process, they showed us what it looks like to work the levers of cultural influence with mastery." Doesn't Lyons realize the "process" used by homosexual activist leaders include some of the same processes used by pro-life activists, such as holding protests, selecting political candidates who support their view, and taking the fight to specific locations. It seems as though Lyons finds some behaviors perfectly acceptable for some, saying it can "inform" the church, but not supporting the same actions on behalf of Christian positions, even on the abortion issue. Would Lyons support the church hosting "Christian pride" parades in cities across America? Not likely.
Lyons opens chapter one with these words, "Seven years ago, I was twenty-seven years old and embarrassed to call myself Christian." Based on his wholesale judgment and dismissal of today's Christians in America, it doesn't appear he's gotten over his embarrassment. Now, he simply looks to some kind of "next generation" Christians to turn the church into what he envisions it should be.
"The Next Christians" is priced at only $19.99. Save your money, or put it on some other book that actually has a positive contribution to make to the church.
I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 12 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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4 out of 5

Good points with a lack of "historical memory"

Date:April 19, 2011
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Pastor Tim VL
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“The Next Christians” is a provocative read that is sure to push buttons while providing positive theoretical and practical content that will help the reader develop a richer more deliberate concept of Christian ministry (no matter the level of involvement in ministry or Church background). For that I gave the book four stars. I almost gave the book three stars because of an apparent lack of an accurate “historical memory” and an apparent hyperbolic overstatement of the “The Next Christians” unique place in history.
In Part I of “The Next Christians” Lyons describes the undeniable cultural shifts that have lead to what is now commonly referred to as “Post-Christian America” (ch. 1& 2). From there, Lyons outlines six “parodies” of how Christians tend to respond to culture (ch. 3). His six “parodies” somewhat resemble H. Richard Niebuhr’s five categorizes of how Christians engage culture in his seminal work “Christ and Culture”. Those Niebuhr categorizes as “Christ against Culture” and “Christ in Paradox with Culture” Lyons seems to divide into three groups: 1) Insiders, 2) Culture Warriors, and 3) Evangelizers. Those Niebuhr categorizes as “Christ above Culture” and “Christ of Culture” loosely resemble Lyons’ two classifications dubbed 1) Blenders and 2) Philanthropists. And, those Niebuhr categorizes as “Christ the Transformer of Culture” Lyons calls Restorers. It is the Restorers whom Lyons champions through rest of the book. In chapter four, Lyons asserts that the Restorers have rediscovered the full and complete plot line of the Gospel – a Gospel with four major movements: a) creation, b) fall, c) redemption, d) glorification/consummation. Lyons contrasts this full orbed Gospel understanding with a “truncated gospel” which begins with the fall in order to press home the urgency of redemption all the while forgetting to frame Gods redemptive plan in terms of creation and re-creation. Here Lyons calls for Christians to embrace a Gospel that looks forward to all things being made new as opposed to a “truncated gospel” that promises some sort of “eternal-life-escape-boat” from this doomed and sinking world. A full orbed understanding of the Gospel (creation, fall, redemption, consummation) is what Lyons believes drives Restorers toward a more fruitful application of the Gospel (word and deed) to the whole of life. (A Reformed or Presbyterian reader will cheer the next Christians at this point since a creation, fall, redemption, consummation understanding of the Gospel has always been a central component of Reformed theology – even if this component has been neglected from time to time. In this section it is easy to see why Os Guinness, Chuck Colson, and Tim Keller have all praised this book.)
How is it that the Restorers are gaining meaningful traction living out their faith in the midst of our current cultural context? Lyons lays out six ways in which the Restorers are bearing fruit in the post-Christian American cultural context:
1) They are “Provoked, not Offended” (ch. 5)
2) They are “Creators, not Critics” (ch. 6)
3) They are “Called, not Employed” (ch. 7)
4) They are “Grounded, not Distracted” (ch. 8)
5) They are “In Community, not Alone” (ch. 9)
6) They are “Countercultural, not ‘Relevant’” (ch. 10)
(I read this book soon after reading Tullian Tchividjian’s book “Unfashionable”, and I was very intrigued at how Tchividjian’s six characteristics of transformational cultural engagement compliment Lyons six characteristics of transformational cultural engagement. I will keep these two books together in my study on a shelf dedicated to Christianity and culture.)
Each one of these chapters is filled with compelling case studies and real-life examples of Christians who are effectively living out the Christian faith in the midst of places and contexts that many Christians have given up for lost. A small group, discipleship group, Sunday school class, leadership team, or congregation that deliberately works through this book will surely come up with several ways in which they can penetrate their surrounding culture and transform it for the good of the Kingdom of God. I would like to see small clutches of pastors meeting together to discuss the book and its practical applications; then, after working through the book, in turn, it would be neat to see those pastors work through this book with people in their churches who are eager to see the Kingdom of God permeate every arena of culture more fully.
In the final section (“Part III: A New Era”) and final chapter of the book (“The Next Big Shift”), using the thesis that the Christian Church passes through a time of major transition every 500 years, with a hopeful positive outlook Lyons offers a motivational call to action.
With these positives, I have one negative critique and one caution about the use of “The Next Christians”. First, it seemed to me that Lyons has a bit of a weak “historical memory”. Lyons does say that the next Christians who are engaged in the work of restoration “are relearning . . . rediscovering the depth and breath of the most critical, orthodox teaching of our faith – the Gospel message” (pg. 50; see also pg. 192). And Lyons does say, “The people of God will continue forward as they’ve been doing for two millennia so long as we keep the foundations of our faith grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is of first importance” (pg. 189). And, Lyons even acknowledges that “The perspective they [the next Christians] exhibit is not a new Christian idea; it’s actually quite old” (pg. 48). Yet, in a slightly inconsistent way, Lyons claims that “Restorers exhibit the mind-set, humility and commitment that seem destined to rejuvenate the momentum of the faith. They have a peculiar way of thinking, being, and doing that is radically different from previous generations” (pg. 47). This last statement comes off like a teenager exiting a movie theater exclaiming, “Harry Potter movies are the best movies ever!” It is true that every generation and age has unique contextual differences; nevertheless good, solid, sound, vibrant, beautiful Christianity is timeless and consistent. Faithful and fruitful Christians don’t look to create or to be something new, they are always returning to the ancient paths that have been laid our for them once and for all (Jeremiah 6:16). Lyons work is not so ground breaking, after all, H. Richard Niebuhr addressed similar issues 50 years ago. Abraham Kuyper (the Father of Transformationalism) modeled this over 100 years ago. As Lyons recognizes, 200 years ago William Wilberforce, John Newton, and the relatively small Clapham Circle community restored an entire nation’s moral standing. The people Lyons describes as Restorers in many ways are not all that new or unique; each and every generation has had restorative or transformational Christians (without exception). I can think of a multitude of senior-citizens in the sunset years of their life who fit Gabe Lyon’s description of “The Next Christians.” It just so happens that in this current age, the restorers or transformers are becoming more visible as they gain significant ground and produce noticeably sweet fruit within their cultural context. Are witnessing a refining process that is drawing out a purer solid Christianity while burning away the dross of superficial Christianity that has flourished in recent years? I will grant Lyons this, if Restorative or Transformational Christians would have been more common in the past century, then we would not have so much superficial Christianity today and a deterioration of Christianity’s standing in the culture at large.
Along these lines, I would like to see a subsequent edition of this book with a chapter dealing with the reality that the best of Christians will still be despised by the culture even when they live the faith extremely well. During this read, I wanted to hear Lyons address the difference between Christians creating un-due or inappropriate offence and the inevitable offence that Christian Gospel will always create (c.f. the relationship between I Cor. 1:23 & II Cor. 6:3). After all, the majority of Christians around the world suffer derision, rejection, and persecution within their cultural context despite their best efforts to live out the faith.
As to the caution, one could read this book and turn being a Restorer into a form of Phariseeism. This book needs to be read with a heart of grace toward non-Christians and toward Christians whom you may disagree with (i.e. those Lyons rightly negatively classifies as Insiders, Culture Warriors, Evangelizers, Blenders, and Philanthropists). Please avoid the temptation of defining what it means to be a Restorer too narrowly. A narrow understanding of what it means to be a Restorer, could lead someone to become wrongly disappointed with those who he does not perceived not to be transformational enough.
OK, with those pointed critiques, I benefited deeply from reading this book. I benefited because it caused me to wrestle and struggle with the finer points of how I approach living the Christian life – a few times, I woke in the middle of the night to jot down thoughts that were rattling around in my head on account of this book. There are points in this book that will surgically cut each and every reader (this is a great quality in any book that seeks to lead people to improve in the Christian life). You will think long and hard about what it means to live out your faith in this day and age after reading this book. This book offers hope and a positive outlook for the future of the Church along with concrete practical approaches that will help groups of Christians confidently live out their faith with an expectant eye to the future.
(I received this book free for the purposes of review from Multnomah/Waterbrook Books.)
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Review 13 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5

The Next Christians is Something Fresh

Date:April 18, 2011
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Vfeinsod
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Gabe Lyons is doing what he calls others to do and that is refreshing. He is living his life as a redemptive reality in a culutral season that is desperate for redemption. This is not a “how to” manual as much as it provokes the reader to think “I can too.” What a breath of fresh air in a room filled with the stale wind of so many saying the same things.
Seldom would anyone say a single chapter of a book is worth buying the whole book but in the case of The Next Christians, it may well be true. Chapter Ten, “Countercultural,**Not ‘Relevant’* may state some of the sagest wisdom any contemporary author has had the courage to state. *”The next Christians are living in the tension of being prophetic with their lives while serving others and inviting then to a better way.”* In much of the present literature that is designed to “help” christians do a better job being christian, there is some kind of copy and paste pattern to follow. Lyons is giving something different to his readers. Live in a real relationship with God, live in real relationships with people and trust the Holy Spirit to flow with life into all things we are part of.
This is a timely and important work and could prove to one of the most prophetic works for the believers that are coming into their purpose and time.
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Review 14 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Worth Reading, But Left Me With Questions

Date:April 1, 2011
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Pastor Decker
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As I reflect on my reading of The Next Christians, I must admit that I have mixed feelings. Lyons has done a wonderful job emphasizing our need to get back to the fullness of God’s Story, instead of the truncated version of the Gospel that has been promoted for so long. He has also provided a good description of what “The Next Christians” look like.
Perhaps the weakness lies in helping “conventional churches” turn the corner toward more effective ministry in, and to, our changing world, and how to equip “the next Christians.” Perhaps Lyons should expand upon chapter 11 “The Next Big Shift” into such a work. How do we move from “once proud churches [that] are left with a small but devoted elderly population that’s been left behind” (p. 26) to the next church? How do we rediscover, recalibrate, rethink, reimagine, redeploy, and revitalize (p. 66-67)?
All in all, I think the book was helpful, but didn’t go far enough. I’m left with more questions, when I was hoping for more answers.
(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review).
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Review 15 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Date:March 10, 2011
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Dr JSK
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In his book, The Next Christians, Gabe Lyons attempts to dispel any belief in the idea that the younger generation of Christians has taken a vacation from their beliefs and set aside their faith. His desire is for us to understand that younger Christians do struggle with what is termed as "traditional" Christianity, but they are not walking away from faith, just seeking to find a new way to embrace its presence within their lives.
Through this book and within the consideration of the "Next Generation" of Christians, Gabe explains six defining characteristics that are seemingly found to be a driving force within their lives. These characteristics help define who they are in God and bring to light an understanding of their commitment, although it is visibly different as compared to the previous generation.
Through his writing, Gabe paints a picture of what the "Next Generation" of Christians is seeking, restoration. Bringing the lost, hurting, and down trodden into the presence of Jesus where they can find forgiveness and restoration has been the goal of all generations, but most have sought to do this only through the unlocking of the church doors. While previous generations stood at the doors hoping the lost would come in, the "Next Generation" desires to walk through these doors and out into the world in an attempt to meet people where they really are within their lives.
All in all, this book is a recommended read, as it affords a new look on what can be done to bring forth the message of Christ.
Dr. Jeff Krupinski
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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Review 16 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5

This product brings hope to a despairing world.

Date:March 9, 2011
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Nonny1949
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The Next Christians – A Book Review
Many Christians have grave concerns about the moral decline in America. This country was founded on Judeo-Christian values from which we draw our moral code and sense of law and justice.
Author Gabe Lyons “began to notice that the perceptions my friends and neighbors had about Christians were incredibly negative. In fact, their past experiences with anything labeled Christian had sent them running in the opposite direction”. He further states “I witnessed countless instances when the lives of Christ Followers were incongruent with Jesus’ call to be loving, engaged, sacrificial, unselfish and compassionate contributors to culture.” (1) This disturbed him greatly. The first thing he did was to study and understand the perceptions that young people have about Christians. His study confirmed that the majority of those questioned perceived Christians as judgmental, hypocritical, too political, among other things. In other words the research revealed what happens when Christians act unchristian. The results of this study were published in a book titled “Unchristian”. This book exposed something much bigger – “the Christian faith is quickly losing traction in Western culture”. (1).
The results of this research led to the writing of the book “The Next Christians”.
This foundation was firm and cast, as in concrete. Our Founding Fathers came to American soil because they sought freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion – something they did not have in the country they came from. There your religion was dictated by the State. In this new country people would be free here at the nation’s inception to practice their religious beliefs without restraints or government interference.
Over the past century the foundation has been crumbling and turning into dust. The Ten Commandments have been sorely tested and tried and have even been physically removed from some public buildings. Protestors from other religions claim that Christians are trying to force their belief system on them. As they protest, more and more of our Christian traditions are being challenged and denied to accommodate non-Christians and maintain peace. No longer is it freedom of religion, but judgment on certain religions. It is beginning to look like Christian America could become history.
There is hope. Out of the dust is rising a new generation of Christian believers who have a passion to bring true Christianity back to life in a new and exciting way.
The Next Christians is a book written by Gabe Lyons that tells the reader how this is happening even at the time this book is being written. Lyons talks about the Jesus of the New Testament, the type of man He was . Unlike the Pharisees of His day, He sought out the dirty, the broken, the lost and the down and out, to bring change to their lives. Good change. Change that would restore them physically, mentally and spiritually.
Lyon’s Next Christians have seen the complacency of the world and the attitude of those who do not want to get involved. They see Christians isolating and keeping to themselves, avoiding would-be troublemakers and places where crime and evil are likely to occur. They won’t be seen with people who are of questionable character so as not have their own reputations tainted.
The Next Christians are just the opposite. They see the hurt in the world and are, even now, bringing many healing, restoration, and into relationship with God. Grace and mercy over condemnation and judgment.
Lyons talks about the people behind the movement of this new breed of Christian. Although there are many groups and personalities who fall into different roles to meet the needs of these lost and hurting, they are of the same mindset and purpose. Restoration.
I highly recommend this book. It gives hope to a despairing world. It is filled with some history, stories that will bring tears and smiles, as the possibilities of what can be done are shared when devoted Believers put their minds to it. With trust in God, the world can be restored to what He had originally planned for it. He said it himself: “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? (Jer 32:27). He said it again through Jesus in the New Testament. The disciples were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:25-27)
Hope abounds. Read this book. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb 13:8) We can all have a part in the future of America. We just have to take the first step.
It has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. The wind of change is in the air. Be on the look out for people in your communities, workplaces, neighborhoods who are more caring, more sensitive, and who are actively involved in making change happen all around you. That is making change for the better.
________________________________________
Quotes:
(1) The Next Christians © 2010, page 4
(2) The Next Christian © 2010 page 3
Other quotes:
Holy Scripture.
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, please mention as part of every review that Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. For example, “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.
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Review 17 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Good New ???

Date:March 4, 2011
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PastorJim
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This book was a real Hate-Love relationship for me.Lyons is basically a proponent of the post-Christian era … not that he believes that this is as it should be; rather, he seemingly resigns himself in the concept that this is where the world now is. Certainly, he would be joined by many who would offer a similar opinion.
The book started off on a very negative slant (from my perspective) as it delineated the gradual digression of the church since its birth. In this digression, Lyons affirmed that there is a growing disdain for Christianity and the church.
What I failed to grasp at the initial stages, however, was that Lyons was building a foundation to introduce a counter culture similar to the original intent of Christianity (but from which Christianity has moved throughout the years.)
These “next Christians” as he called them are those who mingle among the world’s elite as well as the world’s down-and-outers.
They are those who are confident in their callings and who often choose to use those callings in their various venues.
In other words, these individuals who Lyons introduces are those who have the gifting to move in any circle but who choose to move among those whom many of us would define. as secular; they choose to ignore the lines between the sacred and the secular.
Perhaps this is all OK, but it sits strange with me.
While I have always stated that we need to allow the sacred to invade and influence the secular, what is see here is a “blurring of the lines” in which one can hardly tell the difference (if there is, in fact, such.)
My critique of The Next Christians: although it was a well-written book with many powerful vignettes of Christians participating in their local “worlds,” I felt there was a call for relevance when I would have preferred to have seen a call for difference.
On a scale of 1-5, I rate this book a 3.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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Review 18 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Provocative look at the next Christians

Date:March 3, 2011
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Dr Rick Clark
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Gabe Lyons has again hit the mark by showing how some younger Christians are going back to the basics to redefine what is Christian. Like his first book, "Unchristian", Gabe helps us to understand why younger Christians struggle with traditional Christianity. But this time he demonstrates how they are attemptimg to re-define Christianity in how they follow Christ. Gabe helps us to initially see how we may be different that the next Christians in how we view Christianity. The key is in seeing that the next generation is driven by restoration, seeing the world as it "ought to be."
He defines 6 characteristics that drive this generation and how they build on each other. They are provoked by brokenness not offended. Then they create solutions that restore the broken. These believers want to be used to restore the broken where they are called to make a difference, otherwise known as their place of work or life. But to restore the broken we must be grounded in Christ and not distracted by the minutia. The need to restore brokenness is best done in community and not alone as we hold each other accountable for the disciplines it takes to be grounded in Christ. They really want to restore people to a full, whole relationship with Jesus.
This is a great book for older Christians to understand what is happening today. It shows how we have drifted from what truly following the model of Jesus looks like. There is a new generation restoring Christianity to its original purpose to be the salt and light to a world in need of preservation and change. This book will make you think and re-evaluate what is real Christianity.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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Review 19 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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5 out of 5

Where is Christianity Going?

Date:February 14, 2011
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Pastor Joel
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After reading "The Next Christians" by Gabe Lyons i am now a fan of his books. I have read unChristian and his second book trumps his firt book. As a pastor i am always reading. One of the books that i am on the look out for is the books that study culture and church and they try to put them together. This book is awsome because it gives us hope for the future.
Sometimes i am a little nervous about the future of the church but according to the research of Gabe Lyons, all is not lost. The future will be different, but biblical and God-ordained.
my favoite chapter was chapter ten: "Countercultural, not relevant." Churches are always saying be relevant. but the truth is:we must counter the culture. according to Lyons, the Next Christians are not just being relevant. they are open to countering the culture.
If you are ready to get encouraged about the future of the church or you just want to know where the church is going, read The next Christian by Gabe Lyons.
I recieved this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah books in an exchange for an honest review.
My review 5 stars out of 5!
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Review 20 for The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America - eBook
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3 out of 5
3 out of 5

A Reminder of A Crucial Aspect of Gospel Ministry

Date:February 8, 2011
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PastorDCH
Location:Shelbyville, KY
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Over the past few years, a number of reports have bemoaned the decreasing reputation and influence of evangelical Christians in US American culture. Recent statistics show that younger generations are leaving the church at alarming rates, and that their view of Christianity in general is horribly negative. Many have predicted the demise of the church, like Western Europe. But in The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America, (Doubleday, 2011), a follow-up to his decidedly pessimistic Unchristian, Gabe Lyons enthusiastically begs to differ.
Lyons, who has years of experience working deep in the Christian subculture and now leads Q, has a unique perspective from which to analyze what has happened and now, from a broader perspective, to notice what is happening. Accordingly, The Next Christians is divided into two large sections; the first analyzes how the evangelical voice in the cultural conversation has been quieted and the second describes what Lyons sees as a new movement among younger evangelicals that is helping restore not only the Christian voice, but the gospel itself, to a vital place in that same culture.
In Part 1 Lyons asserts that The World is Changing – and that Christians have for the most part ignored or missed the change. “The Christian church is losing traction in Western culture, not only as a result of unchristian behavior, as significant as that is, but because we haven’t recognized our new reality and adjusted.” A pluralistic, postmodern and even post-Christian world continues to challenge our values, thinking and spirituality, and in the face if that challenge, Christianity has “become divided and incoherent to the average spiritual sojourner.”
Lyons helpfully identifies two primary strains of Christian interaction with the culture. Separatists include insiders (who build life around Christian items and activities) , culture warriors (who battle to maintain their defined values for the entire culture) and evangelizers (for whom the only legitimate Christian activity is convincing others to cross the line of faith in Jesus) On the other hand, Culturals include blenders (who create a culture of acceptance by finding common ground with the mainstream) and philanthropists ( who place a premium on doing good works for the needy) . According to Lyons, each has its strengths, but neither presents the fullness of the gospel of Jesus to the culture.
Into that gap, he sees a third way emerging among younger evangelicals: The Restorers, which he describes in Part 2. Lyons asserts that these Christians see their role as envisioning what God intended from creation and intends to restore. They purposefully engage the culture and see themselves partnering with God to mend earth’s brokenness so that people see Christ through them. Restorers work to make the divine “ought” come alive. Justice, mercy, beauty, and compassion are key values.
Lyons describes the heart and action of the restorers with a series of positive / negative pairs. The restorers are provoked, not offended; creators, not critics; called, not employed; grounded, not distracted; in community, not alone; and countercultural, not relevant. He helps each piece of the profile come alive with compelling stories that demonstrate that when faith is lived in concrete ways, lives change and are often drawn to Christ.
As he draws his work to a close, Lyons asserts that “the Christian movement is entering a time of transformation on par with the Protestant Reformation.” That is an interesting observation, because the entire book rests on very specific doctrinal views of the Gospel, creation, humanity, eschatology, Kingdom, evangelism and mission. While Lyons does an admirable job of touching on these foundations, a full understanding of this element is crucial and more dialogue is needed. (A brief discussion guide is included at the end of the book; a more extensive participant’s guide has been prepared for small groups and expanded resources are available online) Why is such discussion of Lyons’ ideas as it intersects with the Bible so important? It is too easy for the defining vision of the “power of the ought” to become subjective, and to hear this view of the gospel as merely as a call for a deep commitment to social justice. The involvements with communities and human needs are necessary to Biblical faithfulness, but it must be made clear precisely how this moves beyond philanthropy to a full expression of Jesus’ gospel heart. The restorers have admirably tapped one aspect of living the gospel of God that has perhaps been in eclipse, but it is certainly not the totality of the gospel. Gospel restoration must include both actions like Jesus and proclamation of Jesus, which includes conversations that we initiate.
This book is probably most helpful as a tool to help ministry leaders process the cultural engagement of their ministries and members. It could be also be used for small groups in which the members already possess some mature understanding of the Bible’s narrative and the gospel.
With The Next Christians, Gabe Lyons spurs us to understand and engage a crucial piece of the puzzle that will help us make the gospel of Jesus come alive for the people in the culture in our day. It is a passionate call for us to engage the hearts of people in our day by demonstrating how their heart hungers for love, hope, justice and beauty are ultimately satisfied only in Jesus Christ.
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