How the Next Generation of Christians Must Engage the World

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The New Canaan Society exists to inspire a global connected network of men who are committed to friendship with Jesus and each other. At the 2011 New Canaan Society Conference, Gabe Lyons, best-selling author and founder of Q Ideas, talks about the characteristics of the next generation of Christians that makes him hopeful for their ability to engage our changing culture.

Gabe identified three characteristics of today's world that make this a hard time for the church. Our society is...
  1. Postmodern - no particular authority is respected, and the culture does not believe that one person or philosophy can hold the keys to what is true of the rest of the world.
  2. Pluralistic - every religion and faith is celebrated, no one can say that any belief system is better than any others.
  3. Post-Christian - Christianity no longer dictates the morals of the culture, but carries some serious baggage, and the outside world has serious negative perceptions about the church.

How have you seen a postmodern worldview make its way into the church? In your context, is this most prevalent in the next generation?
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What effect has pluralism had on your church's efforts to evangelize and serve outside the church walls?
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Gabe mentioned "anti-gay" and "hypocritical," but what negative perceptions about the church do you typically encounter? How can we respond to these accusations in a way that gives the world a more positive and accurate view of Christ's church?
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Thinking about these ways that the world is stacked against the church can be discouraging. Gabe believes, however, that college aged Christians have some godly attributes that will suit evangelistic efforts in the midst of a postmodern, pluralistic, and post-Christian world. 

For these next questions, think about how you and your church can adopt some of these characteristics so that you will be effective in engaging today's unbelieving world.

Every priest has a parish, and God has called us all to be a kingdom of priests. For most Christians, our place of ministry is not in a church or on the mission field. To what parish has God called you? How will you perform your priestly duty of pointing people to Christ in your context?
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Gabe encouraged us to avoid spending all our efforts in criticism of the sin in our culture. He said we will be more effective when we use our creativity to make proactive injections of the gospel where darkness rules (like fighting abortion by encouraging parents of Downs syndrome children). Where does your heart especially hurt because of a particular sin or injustice? How can you creatively embody the gospel in this brokenness?
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Do you have a community that knows your dreams? Have you shared what you believe God has called you to do, and do those in your community have the freedom to challenge and encourage you concerning this goal?
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Gabe described the issue of "forcing coolness," which harms the church. If we are always trying to be cool like the culture, we will instead look like lame copies, always a step behind. Rather, how can you be authentic in a way that is both counter-cultural and redemptive?
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This generation is walking away from the physical structure of the church because the church hasn’t figured out how to disciple them in a way that teaches them how to live as Christians in this new world. Use what you have learned in this training to encourage young Christians (even if you are one) to authentically engage this culture with the gospel of Jesus.

If you would like to learn more about the work and ministry of the New Canaan Society, you may visit their website here.