Thursday, September 21, 2006

George Barna's Revolution

I just finished the book Revolution by George Barna.

This book is written by George Barna a highly-acclaimed statistician who has done extensive research and written dozens of book primarily dealing with trends within the realm of Christianity and the Church.

In his latest book Barna addresses what he see's as the religious transformation he see's in Christians over the next couple of decades.

The positive trend he notices is that more Christians will try to live God centered lives that actively try to place God at the center of all that they do 24/7. Obviously, church leaders would not complain about the concept of Christians who are actively seeking out God, BUT Barna thinks that a revolution is occurring where Christians will do this in ways that will minimize the role and importance of the modern day Church.

Barna is very positive about the decreased stature of the church (little "c" church), not because he thinks the church is bad, but because these "Revolutionaries" will find ways to be about the larger kingdom of God (the Church) in ways that stretch beyond the four walls of the local church.

Barna says "Revolutionaries" are passionate about intimate worship, faith-based conversations, intentional spiritual growth, servanthood, resource investment, spiritual friendships, and family faith.

Barna realizes while church can often aid in the venture of these passions, many other opportunities are available for nurturing these passions and a "Kingdom of God" oriented life.

What Barna recognizes is valuable and real, I can see it in the various faith communities that I have the opportunity to engage in and come in contact with. I think that in a ever growing marketplace of ideas and opportunities our time is too valuable to misallocate our valuable resources, like time.

I value the fact that my church intentionally strives not to be "program driven." It is not that my current church views programs as bad, but rather that our lives are already very busy, and we don't need "church" busying up our lives. Now, instead, if we are to live lives that are honoring to God, instead we must allow the God (in his crazy God ways) to come-in to all other aspects of our lives.

It is very personal faith to live that longer can we blame our church for our own spiritual failings or unconnectivity, we instead have the opportunity to take responsibility for our own faith in every aspect of our lives.

Barna presents a unique vision and picture for what he see's happening in contemporary Christianity. I think many Christians and church leaders would be disheartened by Barna's message because they might see it as heretical to take "church-as-we-know-it" out of the equation, but while at times I have doubts about the perspective on church Barna presents, I also value the active spiritual life that he portrays.

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Dad said...

But if people start taking responsibility for their own faith how can career ministers like me control them? If they don't have to depend on me for all their spiritual food then what am I supposed to do with all of MY time huh???

It's actually strange. People are resistant to taking more control over their own lives in this area. When we were moving to the small group model at my current church the question of curriculum came up. I suggested we have very little, if any other than the Bible. I got only astonished stares. In my mind such a concept should fit in precisely with Baptist/protestant theology. Sola scriptura after all. I won a small victory, I felt, by getting by with a discussion guide written by the pastor and I in leau of lesson books. The selling point was that this approach is basically free. It's still a waste of paper in my opinion. Why do people need help in asking questions?

You can see it in the current Southern Baptist struggle over our confession of faith. Do we make it less or more inclusive? Those who want a narrower view of who Baptist are seem to want to tell people (or be told) what to believe. Those who want a wider view seem to want to define the basics and help people figure out what to believe for themselves. The second approach is definitely more difficult and dangerous.

Hey, Jesus was difficult... and dangerous.

TK said...

Thanks for stopping by my site. I think I am pretty much with you on Barna's position.

I really like your phrase "active spiritual life," especially in the context of your post. It doesn't mean more church (little c) stuff, it means striving after a 24/7 relationship with God.


Art said...

Interesting. I need to read that book.

And it reflects what is already happening in the 'emergent' movement to some degree...

I don't think "the church" will go away so much as it will change...

And if that causes Christians to start thinking of the church as the collective body of believers - the people - instead of the brick building with the steeple on top then this trend cannot be a bad thing.


Anonymous said...

life, if nothing else, is interesting.

Jeff Reed
Revolution Retail

Anonymous said...

Wow. This sounds like a great read. I'll have to look into this a little more.


Anonymous said...

great post here, RC.
I'm part of this movement, I guess, although I still go to church. But sometimes I feel like it's much more important what's going on Christianly in the rest of my life. Church is like a family reunion with fellow believers, giving us a chance to worship together.
I don't see this as a bad movement at all. I think perhaps Barna overestimates the movement AWAY from church.
I dunno.

Adam said...

One thing that bothered me about Barna's book was that he says multiple times that the local church will fade away in this new context. I disagree. I think the local church will simply be redefined. Just because we may become less focused on the "institutional church" doesn't mean that the local church will no longer be present. To have less institutional church and more Church (big c) we don't have to throw out a local component.

An even better read along these lines is a book called A Churchless Faith by Alan Jamieson.

Anonymous said...

The word 'church' means a gathering and is even applied to the mob that was assembled in the book of Acts.

For Barna to pretend that Christians can exist or operate apart from a local church of some sort is a total absurdity.

Furthermore, Barna admitted that some of his polling numbers for the book 'Revolution' were way off.

Anonymous said...

Me again. I started to use phrase "single christians" above but it sounded like marital status. Let me clarify. I am referring to one person, detached from others, claiming to "be the church." That would be like one person claiming to be a family or an orchestra.

What faithful pastor, what faithful church would not be seeking to birth, encourage Revolutionaries sold out to God??? Why must these leave their churches. Barna gave no real reason. Could these highly advanced Revolutionaries not stay and bring corrections and reforms in their local setting? But wait - according to Barna, there are no rules in Scripture on how to "do church." Therefore it would be impossible to do it wrong and everything, every practice, becomes equally valid. Has he really thought this through?

Anonymous said...

people leave chuches because in some cases the local church serves itself above god. We have become consumers of church. Many people who have spent decades proding, dragging, and begging the local church to stand up and do the business of the church--love god, love others, share the way of jesus---we have grown weary and have simply moved to bnetworking with others more interested in being the church than playing church.

it's happening right now--you just have look up and you''ll see it.

not against the church--just against any institution that claims to gods work then takes the lionshare of resources for themselves and throws god's mission the scraps...

want to see what it'd starting to look like?

Anonymous said...

In my day job I am a computer programmer by trade. I analyze business practices and business systems. I have not read the book yet but from what I am reading I would definitely describe myself as one of these radicals. If I were to analyze the current paradigm of church as it pertains to the great commission in Mat. 28 I would say the church is failing miserably.

The reason many are leaving the church is that it does not facilitate an environment were the 4 spiritual levels (as outlined in 1 John 2) are first evaluated / recognized and then the individual is challenged to the next spiritual level. What I’m talking about is true discipleship. This can only happen through close and personal relationships. The church little ‘c’ is horribly lacking in this department and people are seeking out and making there own environments where they can seek God in a close and personal way and join others of like mind usually through small groups. Many times these groups are made up of people who go to church together but are not affiliated with there Sunday church organization.

Personally I think it’s about time we take radical action in the area of true discipleship.

Scott Casteel