Book Review: The Next Christians

I got this book out of the library a few weeks ago because I had been hearing more and more lately about the author, Gabe Lyons. He is the founder of Q, an organization that exists to “educate Christians on their historic responsibility to renew culture.” (they also have a great web site with many thought-provoking essays) He previously co-wrote unChristian with David Kinnaman.

Lyons says that there is a new group of Christians, which he calls the “Next Christians.” In contrast to previously popular ways of engaging culture, Next Christians are

provoked, not offended;
creators, not critics;
called, not employed;
grounded, not distracted;
in community, not alone; and
countercultural, not “relevant.”

There was a lot in this book that I enjoyed, particularly the stories Lyons told about particular people and groups who he says belong to the Next Christians. In particular, I agree with Lyons that creating culture rather than merely critiquing it is a much more productive way for Christians to engage the world around them.

However, Lyons could have done a better job of describing the ways that Christians who are not “Next Christians” engage with culture. Early in the book he gives a taxonomy of various groups, and I do not think that he was entirely fair to those groups that he thinks are more antagonistic to culture. I don’t believe that they would recognize themselves in his description of them.

Also, a few critiques of this book that I have read claim that Lyons urging Christians to primarily adopt a ministry of restoration is unbiblical. I believe that it is in fact biblical, but Lyons could have spent more time talking about how restoration related to evangelism and making disciples (which the critics thought Lyons was throwing out the window). I once listened to a couple of talks given by John Stackhouse with the titles “Our (Temporary) Christian Calling: Make Disciples” and “Our (Permanent) Human Calling: Make Shalom.” This neatly encapsulates how the two ought to relate, and it would have been helpful if Lyons had made this more clear.