I had the opportunity to hear Gabe Lyons at Catalyst a few years ago when he has a part of a panel speaking about his previous book, UnChristian. I didn't ever get around to reading that book, but when I saw this book and it's topic, I was drawn to read it. For so many years during my higher education journey, my professors would talk about post-modernism and how it was the "end of the world" so-to-speak. Many are coming to the revelation that Gabe explains in his book - the end of Christian America as it has been is not necessarily a bad thing. There is a better way.
Gabe begins The Next Christians with a charge to "reenvision your faith." Most people are really are seeking "truth" and looking for something that speaks to their innermost longings. The fight against "absolute truth" is in post-modernism is really a disdain for broken religion. American Christianity in particular has not met this need because we've lost part of the Gospel story. In addition, most churches and denominations fall into one of two categories: separatist or cultural. One pulls completely out of culture and society while the other is so immersed in culture that they cannot be distinguished from it. Neither extreme is healthy. There is a third category that represents the next Christians. These are the "restorers."
The restorers have discovered the greater, larger story of the Gospel. The full Gospel is really made up of four parts while most churches in American focus almost solely on the middle two: the fall and redemption. But, see, the story really begins with creation and ends with restoration. We won't see full restoration until the return of Christ, but this is the "now, but not yet" paradox that we live in. As Christ-followers, we are called to partner with God as restorers on earth now in the meantime.
The main portion of the book focuses on the six characteristics of restorers:
Provoked, not offended. Creators, not critics. Called, not employed. Grounded, not distracted. In community, not alone. Countercultural, not "relevant." Gabe uses great real-life examples of people who are living as a restorers to illustrate each of these traits. I think this quote from near the end of the book beautifully sums up the whole point of the book:
The bottom line is that the Christian has a calling and a responsibility to think, work, and live in terms of how the world ought to be in contract to reacting to how it really is.
Definitely a recommended book!
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