Title: The Next Christians
Author: Gabe Lyons
First Copyright: 2010
General Subject Matter: Christian Living
Theme: A new movement to “restore” biblical Christianity
Thesis: The Next Christians exposes a movement of Christians who are disenchanted with historic Christianity who desire to be a force for restoration as they proclaim the Christian gospel.
The purpose of this book is to explain and expose the disenchantment the author feels with his perception of historic or biblical Christianity. The author believes that Christianity in America has failed or at least is on its “last legs” and in great decline. The author desires to demonstrate that in his view “Christianity’s” best days are still ahead.
The author develops his thesis by offering his personal feelings, opinions from opinion polls, illustrations from real-life individuals, and making dramatic statements or observations. Lyons builds a case for the fact that the world, culture, society, and Christianity has and is changing. He builds his case by asking three important questions:
· What does mission look like in America in the twenty-first century?
· How should the message of the Gospel go forward?
· What does it mean to be a Christian in a world that is disenchanted with our movement?
Lyons cites research that over 76% of Americans self-identify themselves as Christians. He cites 80% of Americans under the age of sixty-six describe themselves as “spiritual.” In addition, he states that 75% acknowledged that a very important reason for faith was to “forge a personal relationship with God,” while only 2/3 polled prayed every day. He records the fact that only 1/3 of Americans attend church weekly. Lyons then makes the statement to support his thesis by writing, “The point was clear. Americans are spiritual, but they have begun to seek spiritual experiences outside the framework of traditional religions.”
Lyons is a talented writer. He tells his story and builds his case with great descriptive terms of word-pictures with specific details that appeal to your own imagination and thinking process. He tells stories of various events, individuals, and experiences in a most interesting manner that attempts to convince you of its “correctness.” Lyons very rarely uses Scripture to support a statement or presuppositions. Lyons seems to build his case and support his thesis with dramatic statements and illustrations in an attempt to persuade the reader to adopt his view point.
Lyons doesn’t seem to understand biblical Christianity. Lyons doesn’t seem to have a concept of holiness, sanctification, and the unique walk of a believer. This book presents a skewed view of Christianity in order to support a break away from biblical Christianity. I do not think this book serves any useful purpose to a true child of God who understands biblical Christianity.
I don’t think Lyons main arguments are true. Biblical Christianity is not on its last legs or in a “death roll.” I disagree with most of Lyons opinions and premise. I think the statistics he quoted are quite skewed because most polls and respondents don’t know what biblical Christianity and Christians really are. Most of those who claim to be Christians are not true Christians and although hypocrisy, sin, and even disobedience exists within the church, Christ said in effect his church will triumph and even hell with not prevail against it. Remember, if the world does not respect the church nor has any desire to be a part of it should come as no surprise. Those apart from Christ hate the church, hate the light, hate the salt, and the effect that the true church has on them.
The book does raise some valid questions that need to be addressed by the church today. I do not think that the church should get a pass or that we should not address unbiblical issues in the church, but to be ashamed of being a Christian or believing that Christianity is dead and adopting the philosophies of the world is not the answer.
Lyons is an accomplished author. His first book, UnChristian was a best seller. He is a graduate of Liberty University. He has been featured on CNN, in the New York Times, Newsweek, and USA Today. He is the founder of Q (qideas.org)
In summary, I feel this book is one more tome depicting either the rejection of biblical Christianity or the complete misunderstanding of biblical Christianity. My conclusion is that this book has little value to true believers other than to further identify a generation that has been “lost” by inaccurate presentation of the gospel. The principle topics of this book are divided into Part I: The World is Changing, Part II: The Restorers, Part III: A New Era. As a result this book is one more argument from the emergent and or emerging “church.” I think to say that this movement is equal to the great reformation is extremely inaccurate.