These are my summary reflections from the Catalyst East Conference in Atlanta, GA. The theme this year was “The Tension is Good”, so the speakers mostly used their talks to explore various tensions we all feel in Leadership. I don’t summarize every speaker.
Gabe Lyons helped to start the Catalyst Conference, but left several years ago to pursue Q. He co-authored the excellent book unChristian and released just last week his equally excellent follow-up The Next Christians, which fleshes out many of the ideas he presented at Catalyst.
The next Christians are engaging cultural tensions in a whole new way.
Our world is changing. But what is it changing into?
- Post-Modern – a skepticism towards certainty
- Post-Christian – the Church has moved from the center of culture to the margins.
- Pluralistic – the Judeo-Christian worldview is no longer exclusive.
When engaging culture, Christians fall somewhere along a spectrum between two poles:
Those who have captured the heart of the Gospel do neither. They take a third path. The Next Christians seek to restore.
Creation –> Fall -> Redemption –> Restoration
Separatists tend to focus on the Fall/Redemption aspects of the story, ignoring that creation and culture are good, and that it’s all going somewhere.
Encultureists tend to focus on the Creation/Restoration pieces without taking Sin seriously enough.
A Restorer listens to the whole story. S/he is provoked by brokenness to step-up and get involved.
Gabe has elsewhere categorized culture in seven different spheres, and pointed out that the Church (the religion sphere) is the only sphere that regularly gathers the other spheres. Every person in your church already works in the world, in the other spheres. This means that your church is an unmobilized army already on mission.
What are you doing to train and equip them to become restorers?
Our job isn’t just to show up and state the Good News; it’s to embody the Gospel so people might catch a glimpse of what the Gospel looks like.