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Thursday, February 28, 2013

"The Post-Church Christian" (J. Paul Nyquist and Carson Nyquist)

TITLE: The Post-Church Christian: Dealing with the Generational Baggage of Our Faith
AUTHOR: J. Paul Nyquist and Carson Nyquist
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013, (144 pages).

If you have observed that the typical Church is a graying one, or a decreasing number of young people in the Church, you are probably right to be concerned. There is a generation gap, and it is getting wider as the years go by.  People belonging to the Millennial Generation are leaving the Church, and they may not even come back! Enters a book addressed to Millennials, about Millennials, and for all interested in the Millennial generation. Written by two persons, one from the Boomer generation and the other a Millennial generation, this book brings together some of the current thinking surrounding the Church. According the Carson, Millennials think skeptically mostly in terms of:
  • "Following Jesus" instead of "Going to Church";
  • Church that tends to be toeing the line, observing the rules rather than faith and acceptance;
  • Church being more of a 1-day week instead of an all-days week
  • Bad reputation and image, that churches tend to be hypocritical, anti-homosexual, political, judgmental, and so on
  • Creeds, dogmas, and following all the right rituals, instead of freedom of belief
  • Separatist agendas from the world
  • Lack of freedom to mingle with people in the world;
  • An overly black and white culture or "Either you're right or I'm right" attitude;
  • Where belief supercedes belonging; where rules are more important than relationships
  • ...
Paul then responds with a Boomer's perspective, understanding the pains on the one hand, and clarifying the basic importance of Church and Christianity. He asserts that:
  • For all its flaws, Christ still loves the Church and the Church is the chief witness for the world;
  • Just because the Church is imperfect does not mean we simply leave the church;
  • There are Four functions of a Church. First, they gather regularly. Second, they appoint and are led by qualified leaders. Third, they observe ordinances and rituals. Fourth, they maintain Church disciplines.
  • For Church reputation that has been tattered and negative, we do not simply abandon the Church. We learn to be part of the redemptive process through forgiveness, openness, and reconciliation.
  • As part of the redemptive process, we forgive, thank, and engage with people of all groups
  • Dialogue and regular conversations are the biggest needs to bridge the generation gap;
  • Greater understanding of what constitutes legalism and Christian liberty and the different perspectives to both, according to both generations;
  • True freedom is never one without limits
  • Freedom must come under the umbrella of helpfulness, how it frees oneself, how it frees others, and how it glorifies God;
  • ...
Part Three of the book represents the united from by both father and son, to speak to all generations together. Paul attests to the need of the Church to address the growing interconnectedness of the world, the population shifts from rural to urban cities, rising secularization of societies, and pluralism at large.  He suggests five initiatives for the Church to adopt:
  1. Move away from the "country club" image to a frontline mission
  2. Address the perceptions of hypocrisy straight on not with arguments but with authentic living
  3. Affirm the uniqueness of Jesus in the light of securalism and pluralism
  4. Engage and not get immersed in culture
  5. Affirm the next generation and be open to their ideas, even radical ones.
Carson chimes in with hope for the future. He suggest two things. First, for the Millennial generation not to get stuck in their past experiences with Church to colour the Church too negatively. Second, there is an opportunity to create a positive future together. He ends with a powerful quote from Theodore Roosevelt. That is worth the price of the book.

All in all, I find this book an enjoyable read, especially when I can see the perspectives of two different generation looking together in the same direction toward the Millennial and toward creating a common future for the Church. It is an example of how generations can dialogue and work together for a common goal. Both generations cannot continue in getting stuck in their respective paradigms but to move toward understanding one another with openness and love. Both generations need to consider a balanced view from all sides.  The Church is not for any one generation. The Church is for all generations. That is why we need to see the Church with redemptive eyes always. Here is my reflection upon reading this book. One common reason why people are disillusioned with churches is because they see themselves more important than others. Sometimes, they do it in the name of God. Other times, they do it in the name of self. Perhaps, as we see ourselves less as consumers and more of givers, less as being served and more of serving others, less about us and more about Jesus, we learn to see "church" from the redemptive eyes of God. This book shows us a way ahead. A powerful way indeed. Let's join hands to pray, to work together, and to serve together.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Moody Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

1 comment:

  1. I find a common reason for people leaving is that it is the leadership that sees itself more important than others. They decide how things will be done. Even though they may ask for comments, they are the ones who are in charge. They do not exhibit servant leadership as Jesus displayed. It is cold. Again, throw it back on the people as having "consumer mentality" rather than looking at the leadership style itself. It never changed from a "We're the bosses," to we are a company team oriented paradigm as many newer managemnent styles in corporations have.