Later this month, acclaimed author and entrepreneur Gabe Lyons will be at Trevecca for a day of events centered around the theme of faithful presence.
Lyons is the author of The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America and the founder of Q — a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common good in society. He is the co-author of UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why It Matters. Lyons is also the founder of Catalyst, a national gathering of young leaders. His work represents the perspectives of a new generation of Christians and has been featured by CNN, The New York Times, Fox News and USA Today.
Lyons will deliver the Slonecker Lecture in chapel on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 9:30 a.m. Following the service, he will lead a conversation in Benson Auditorium about engaging culture.
Endowed by Dr. and Mrs. William T. Slonecker, the Slonecker Lecture was first given during the 1972-1973 academic year. The lectureship invites professionals who have distinguished themselves in business, science or other professions to give a presentation regarding their work or experience in chapel or during a class session.
Eric Gernand, university chaplain, said the series of events is a chance for the Trevecca community to engage in deeper conversations about spirituality and how to live like Christ in the midst of an ever-changing culture.
“I got introduced to Gabe’s work through the Q organization. I was amazed at the work they were doing in trying to bring good, biblical thinking to our culture’s most important issues,” Gernand said. “ They were really intentionally engaging those difficult questions in a faithful way, and I think as Christians, we need to be involved in those conversations in a way that is helpful. I’ve been blown away with the organization and their TED Talk formats on various issues facing culture.”
Gernand said those TED Talk-type conversations usually begin with a 9-minute talk. A discussion that encourages the viewer to look beyond what is typical generally follows. For the last year, Gernand and the chapel team have been building chapel lectures inspired by that format, hosting talks and discussions during Monday night chapel services called Faith and Culture.
“We’ll show a talk over some issue that we’re working through in our culture, and the point is to use that conversation springboard to break into small groups and talk about it further,” he said.
Gernand said that when approaching changes in culture, he thinks it is important to engage in these discussions and navigate together what it means to be Christian in these situations. That’s what Lyons pushes for in his work.
“I was always coming at it with the point of view that this moment in our culture to … really genuinely have some delineation between national values and Christian values,” Lyons said. “Being a Christian when society thinks you’re irrelevant, this presents a unique opportunity. It’s a chance for us to have some charitable discourse and talk about how to position the gospel as good news in a culture that needs good news.”
In addition to being a part of the Slonecker endowment, Lyons’ lecture is in line with the chapel theme “Whatever You Do,” inspired by Colossians 3:17: “and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”