This book took longer than it should to finish but with each passing page I felt my life and vocation was under permanent construction. Books that say the same thing about Christianity bore me as those are a dime a dozen. Books that afford all of the answers and develop a formula for the world’s current existence also bother me. The Next Christians did none of that as it posed very difficult questions with some great a unique challenges. This was a book that merged topics like church, culture, spiritual formation, leadership, entrepreneurship, creativity and collaboration all under the umbrella of Lyons’ fundamental thesis (paraphrased): The world “ought” to be different and Christians should seek to restore the world in the name of the gospel. I think what was most helpful for me was how he dissected the different ways Christians have interacted with current culture in a way that would make Richard Niebuhr proud. He then offers six characteristics that set apart the next Christians from the current milleu of Christianity:
- Provoked, not offended
- Creators, not critics
- Called, not employed
- Grounded, not distracted
- In community, not alone
- Countercultural, not “relevant”
I am not making an understatement when I say this book has changed how I view Christianity in the present world. It has changed my focus and even how I read and interpret Scripture. Normally I give you the strengths and weaknesses in this book and the only weakness I found was that it bordered on the tension between theory and practice. There were times I felt Lyons spent more time on just talking about gospel-living (or restorers) instead of showing us how we could actually do it. But that is the paradox in that restorers have no limits to the practical implications of this book. As cheesy as this sounds, from here you can go anywhere. Throw cheese bombs at me…I know.
Pick up the book and read it and then send it to a friend. Let’s start changing things for the better of our society and our world.
“If this Gospel-the Gospel of Jesus Christ-is going to re-engage Western culture in a new way, it starts with us.” Gabe Lyons, The Next Christians, p. 195