Not too long ago, I saw a book in the Christian bookstore called unChristian, which was co-written by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. I bought it immediately and began to read it that very day. The insights in that book, based on how different sections of non-Christians view those professing to be followers of Jesus Christ, really opened my eyes. When I saw that Gabe Lyons had written a follow-up book called The Next Christians, I figured it was a positive follow-through on some things he had learned in his research.
I began to discover that he had some rather good things to say about the younger generation of Christians in today’s world, that are growing into the leaders of the Church. (Global--with a capital “C,” a.k.a., the Body of Christ.) He is hopeful about where we are headed and the way followers of Christ are adapting to modern culture without losing hold of Biblical ideals and truths.
The two things that really stand out to me as I think back over the book are Lyon’s description of the time he got to meet Billy Graham in person. He was invited into Rev. Graham’s personal study at his home, and reading Lyon’s recollection and the emotions that he experienced are similar to a child getting to meet “Santa Claus” at the local department store for the very first time. His giddiness jumps out at you, yet you quickly see his appreciation for the very down-to-earth nature of Rev. Graham, and it moves into a story of encouragement as Graham shares Lyon’s passion for the young Christian leaders of the day.
Another story is of a young woman who went above and beyond what would have been expected of her to help someone she encountered. When asked about her motivation, she simply replied, “It’s the right thing to do.” Lyon’s uses this phrase to describe a growing conviction in young Christians in dealing with issues ranging from the spiritual, to the emotional and social. That “right thing” is in regards to what they see in Jesus’ examples throughout the Gospels. No longer are we seeing watered-down, socially-relative “churchianity” taking place, but real imitation of Christ. It is a hopeful place for the Body of Christ (specifically in the United States) to be.
I pray that Lyon’s insights are correct. Our modern culture needs young leaders who can engage others where they are, and find that common ground, and then use it as an open door to bring people to Christ. The Next Christians is a good read for those involved in church, or those that find themselves repulsed by what media depicts in a negative light of Christianity. It offers a gritty, yet inspiring challenge to take a deeper look at what the future holds.
In fairness of full disclosure, I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers.