The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons
Recently, I have been reading, The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World by Gabe Lyons. If you’re a follower of our blog, you may have read our post, A shift in culture? In it, we reference a movement in America away from a “Christian-biblical worldview”. If we are indeed seeing a shift, the question must be asked, how, I as a Christian, should interact with the current culture. For example, should I take a stand more so for my personal beliefs or should I be more tolerant of others who don’t share my beliefs? Another question might be: should I isolate my family from these “negative influences” by sending our children to private Christian schools, unplugging the TV, allowing them to only listen to Christian music, and only associate with Christian friends or is that keeping them from being “salt and light in the world”? Many of you can likely relate to these examples and may find yourself at one extreme or the other.
In his book Lyons discusses “Christian Interaction with Current Culture”. When reading the book and seeing the diagram below, I had one of those light bulb moments.
Source: Lyons, Gabe (2010-10-05). The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World. Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Lyons discusses that there are two primary groups that Christians fall into, “Separatist” or “Cultural”. Within these primary groups we find a few subgroups. Lyons breaks each of these groups down in his book, and I will attempt to generalize each group.
Insiders – These are people that I was referencing above who choose to isolate themselves. They tend to only associate with other Christians and surround themselves in Christian environments.
Culture Warriors – These are people who feel compelled to take a stand. They see the shift in culture and believe people need to be more bold in their faith.
Evangelizers – Lyons says these are the Christians who are “intent solely on getting people ‘saved.’” You typically find these people outwardly sharing their faith without hesitation wherever they go.
Blenders – These Christians are the ones that simply want to “blend in”. They are extremely tolerant of other’s beliefs and may not even want others to know they are Christians in fear of being judged as “one of those”.
Philanthropists – These Christians are sometimes called the “do gooders”. They believe the light of Jesus will be seen as they go out into the world and serve. While they may be motivated by a heart for Christ to serve, they aren’t necessarily compelled to share their faith in Christ openly.
While over simplified, for which reason I highly encourage reading the book, we find some Christians and non-Christians view Separatist as “holier-than-thou or judgmental”. While others see Cultural as being “too liberated, accepting,” and are criticized for not “sharing the Gospel message”.
If you’re like me, you may have seen yourself in many of these categories at different stages in your walk with Christ throughout the years. For that fact, you may find yourself shifting daily in and out of the various categories as you’re trying to figure out which is the best approach. Reflecting on my walk with Christ, I could see how I might have started out as an Evangelizer shifted to a Blender for several years, then started to become more of an Insider, later to be challenged and shift back to more of a Blender, to once again being inspired and joining Culture Warriors, to “NOW WHAT?”
Well to answer “NOW WHAT?” we must turn to Jesus. As Lyons relates, for readers of the Bible, you may see similarities with the Separatist Christians and the Pharisees as well as Cultural Christians and the Sadducees. During Jesus time, Pharisees were Jews who believed in strict obedience to the Law of Moses and other traditions. Vice versa, the Sadducees felt more compelled to not put up a fight, go with the flow of culture, and accommodate change. Sound familiar?
Then 2000 years ago, “Jesus lived, modeled, taught, and embodied a different way— a better way”; Jesus was a “Restorer”. Lyons believes there is presently a movement and The Next Christians will fall into a third major group called, “Restorers.”
Source: Lyons, Gabe (2010-10-05). The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World . Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
These “Restorers” are truly focusing on the life of Jesus and attempting to live as He did. For example, in Mathew 21:31, Jesus said to the Chief Priest and Elders, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” Jesus’ ministry was characterized by being out in the world sharing the message that “we’re all sinners” and “no one man’s sin is greater than another”. Thus, in order to “restore” our relationship with God, we all need a Savior.
Also, in Matthew 5, Jesus shares what it looks like to be “Salt and Light” in the world.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
In Part II of his book, Lyons outlines the following:
- Provoked, Not Offended
- Creators, Not Critics
- Called, Not Employed
- Grounded, Not Distracted
- In Community, Not Alone
- Civil, Not Divisive
- Countercultural, Not “Relevant”
While I must admit, I am still reading and digesting this book, Gabe Lyons has truly helped in answering the question of “NOW WHAT?” As I heard someone say this past week, we need to get the right view of “people”, the right view of the “problem”, and “engage, equip, and inspire” people with the love of Jesus Christ. I personally don’t want to separate my family or myself from the world we live and be seen as “holier-than-thou or judgmental”. Nor do I want to “hide my light” from the world as it has truly transformed my life, others I know, and we’re called to share it.
If you’re a Christian and would like to learn more about what a Reformer looks like, I truly encourage you to pick up a copy of The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World by Gabe Lyons.
If you’re a non-believer who’s been hurt by Christian who are perceived as judgmental, hypocritical, and proselytizing to include myself at times, please forgive us. Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love the opportunity to meet you.
I hope today’s blog was helpful and please comment if you feel compelled.
Have a fantastic day!