At the Catalyst Conference in October, Gabe Lyons, co-founder of Catalyst and co-author of UnChristian, spoke about the kind of Christians that are making a difference for Christ in the post-Christian culture that we are living in. Most of what he spoke about at the conference is found in his new book, The Next Christians: How a New Generation is Restoring the Faith. While UnChristian highlighted the negative perceptions that people have of Christians, The Next Christians features the kind of Christians who are helping people to change their perceptions.
Gabe gives six characteristics of Christians who are restorers. Restorers are focused on bringing about restoration to the world because they believe that not only does the gospel bring good news about life after death, but it offers good news in the here and now. The Gospel provides hope today, as well as tomorrow. He has observed that these types of Christians are:
– provoked, not offended
– creators, not critics
– called, not employed
– grounded, not distracted
– in community, not alone
– countercultural, not “relevant”
I think the most important emphasis that Lyons makes is that “the next Christians are offering a new way forward- a way to act, live, and bring others along with them into the new reality of how things ought to be” (203). When he was discussing this observation, I kept on thinking of Shane Claiborne and his “Another World Is Possible” video series. Instead of focusing on how things are, he encourages us to imagine how things ought to be (as inspired by Scripture). In the same way, Lyons gives examples of people who are living that out.
While this book did not provide new information to me, it did provide encouragement to me to continue to pursue living a life of restoration instead of separation. Lyons did a great job of communicating the need for Christians to care about and live well in a post-Christian world out of a love for Jesus and a deep hope in the gospel message. Many college students and young adults that I interact with do care about social justice issues and caring for those around them, however, all too often it comes out of something besides a deep love for the Gospel message found in Scripture. Lyons says it beautifully:
“The first thing for the Christian is to recover the Gospel- to relearn and fall in love again with that historic, beautiful, redemptive, faithful, demanding, reconciling, all-powerful, restorative, atoning, grace-abounding, soul-quenching, spiritually fulfilling good news of God’s love” (192).
What about the Gospel is most impacting to you right now?
p.s. I received this book, The Next Christians, free from Waterbrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program.