The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons, a book review

Gabe Lyons analyzes some of the shifting trends in Christendom. If you have ardent beliefs about America being a Christian nation, then this book will grate against you. He divides the book into three sections. The first is really an evaluation of much of the research he presented in his previous work UnChristian. He encourages the reader to evaluate the church at large and their personal Christian context in terms of those who separate from the culture, those who resemble the culture, and those who seek to restore the culture. The second section of the book is Lyons’ articulation of how Christians can begin to make the shift to being a Restorer in their context. This is helpful because he evaluates church and culture, reaction to restoration, in multiple ways and through the multiple channels of culture (see chart on pg. 117). The final section is quite brief and is really an emphatic call for Christians to return to the Gospel in Keller-like fashion.

Overall I was encouraged by the book as Lyons moved from the “so what?” of the research to the “do this!” of what many of the Next Christians are doing.

I heard Mark Driscoll speak of similar categories to those Lyons offers for Christian interaction with culture. Driscoll frames the conversation with the words Reject, Receive, and Redeem. I believe Driscoll’s are easier to remember and communicate, but not entirely different from Lyon’s categories. Lyons does offer various subcategories under each as well, but I appreciate simplicity and felt like in Lyons’ attempt to gain in contextualized application, he lost in clarity and understanding.

Like Lyons, I am also a graduate of Liberty University, and I find much of what he says about having Restorers in every aspect of culture remarkably reminiscent of Jerry Falwell’s vision for the University. I may be mistaken, but I don’t recall him ever giving credit to this. Not that I am trying to defend Falwell, or promote Liberty University, but it was a significant part of the culture at that Christian University while I was there. Perhaps Lyons doesn’t want to be identified with that institution because of the abundant stereotypes and misconceptions, and if so, I can understand that.

The appendix of the book offers some great continued learning questions and resources and points the reader to the website that is quite helpful for thinking through much of what Lyons writes about in the book. Check it out at www.qideas.org.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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