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Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The Next Christians: How a New Generation Is Restoring the Faith, by Gabe Lyons, describes the defining characteristics of the “new” type of Christian that is emerging among the paradigm shift occurring in American Christianity. As the Church in America begins to grapple with the shift culture as a whole has already embraced – mainly from modernity to post-modernity, and “Christian America” to post-“Christian America” – a different kind of believer emerges; one who quietly lives out their faith in a way that looks radically different than their father’s and grandfather’s generations.

Throughout The Next Christians, Lyons presents those he has termed the “next Christians” through story while at the same time providing solid research to provide context to these stories. He spends the first part of the book thoroughly explaining what was once true, why a change occurred, and what is now true regarding Christianity and its place in American culture.

The stage he sets is overwhelmingly supported through both impersonal statistics and personal narratives. Lyons then spends the majority of the rest of the book giving an in-depth explanation of the six main characteristics of the next Christians: they are provoked, not offended; creators, not critics; called, not employed, grounded, not distracted, in community, not alone, and counter-cultural, not “relevant”.

Books that describe any kind of shift taking place among a large group of people, especially in the realm of religion, often have a negative tone towards one side, while glossing over the faults of the other. Lyons however, manages to give the old its due while acknowledging the downfalls and potential pitfalls of those he is describing. The Next Christians is one of the most hopeful books on the state of the Church in America that I have read. His ability to honestly tell it like it is without rancor, as well as maintain an objective viewpoint on those he describes while championing the faith as a whole gives that much more weight to the topic. Without reservation, I recommend The Next Christians to anyone who has a stake in, or is merely curious about those who make up the next generation of leaders of the Church in America.

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255