I recently read a new book titled “The Next Christians- How a New Generation Is Restoring the Faith” by Gabe Lyons. In this book, Gabe shares about how he has seen a new group of Christians rising up to take the place of their ancestors and setting a new goal for the Church as a whole. Gabe contends that the current flow of Christendom is over and this new generation is changing the tide for the future of the Church. He likens this shift to the Protestant Reformation and is adamant that this new wave of “the next Christians” will restore the Church to what God intended it to be in America.
Gabe talks about the need for the church to change and he discusses how these next Christians are labeled “Restorers”. After he gives the title and theme of Restoration, he talks about what attributes these “restorers” take on. Below are those attributes
1. They are Provoked, not offended- He says that the “Next Christians” shouldn’t be offended by the world, rather provoked to engage it and change it back to God’s original design. I think this is right on. We as Christians should be people who are compassionately provoked to take the world back from Satan by the Power of Jesus
2. Creators, not Critics- He says that the “Next Christians” have stopped criticizing the bad that’s going on in Church and the world and begin to create new functional realities to work within. We can’t sit back and say: “that’s bad, that’s bad” and offer no creative alternatives….this makes the world look at us as jokes who condemn but don’t move to change.
3. Called, Not Employed- Here Gabe talks how the “Next Christians” see whatever job they find themselves in as a calling rather than a job. He says these next Christians see every act as something unto the Lord. I think this is where we need to be, but here I think he gives the “Next Christians” too much credit.
4. Grounded, Not Distracted- Here Gabe states that the “Next Christians” are more aware of the distractions of the world and are more aware of how to avoid being trapped by them.
5. In Community, Not Alone- Gabe describes the “Next Christians” as a people of community and I have seen this over and over again with people my age and younger. We are a people that desire to go to the store together, eat together and talk together. Being alone and doing work alone is tiresome and hard.
6. Countercultural, Not “relevant”- Gabe’s sixth attribute is an interesting ending to the list. He claims that church after church has been seeking to be relevant to the World around us and has in fact simply become a mirror to the culture, rather than a countercultural movement. Out of all the attributes he lists, this one I disagree with most. I think this is what the “Next Christians” need to become, but I think they have a long way to actually getting there. My generation has a lot of growing up to do in the area of counterculturalism, so I will wait and see if we do!
All in all, this book is helpful to see some new trends in the younger Christians. I think the Next Generation of Christians has a lot to say about the church and in the next 15-20 years will be in positions to change some things they feel needs changed. I think God is going to use us younger folks in mighty ways to reach the world for Jesus. I encourage you to read it and engage with the conversations!