I just finished reading George Barna’s lastest book, Revolution, which is sure to cause a stir in Chistendom. Barna, head of a polling firm on Christian issues, identifies a growing segment of the Christian population who are deeply committed to Christ but live that faith outside of the traditional congregation. He says 30% of committed Christians now live that way and in the next 20 years that will increase to 70%.
It’s an interesting book in terms of the demographic trends he identifies and certainly some will use it to try to fuel an anti-institutional ‘movement,’ and you all know how I feel about movements. This book will give validation to those looking beyond traditional congregations to live out their passion for Jesus, and that may be a positive thing for many. He debunks some sacred myths in Christendom:
“You should realize that the Bible neither describes nor promotes the local church as we know it today. The local church many have come to cherish—the services, offices, programs, buildings, ceremonies—is neither biblical or unbiblical. It is abiblical—that is, such an organization is not addressed in the Bible.”
Here are some other quotes I liked, even though his term Revolutionaries leaves me more than a bit unsettled, especially when he capitalizes it. It appeals to the wrong motivations in people, that Jesus needs to free us from if we’re ever going to be a reflection of his in the world.
They have no use for churches that play religious games, whether those games are worship services that drone on without the presence of God or ministry programs that bear no spiritual fruit. Revolutionaries eschew ministries that compromise or soft-sell our sinful nature to expand organizational turf. They refuse to follow people in ministry leadership positions who cast a personal vision rather than God’s, who seek popularity rather than the proclamation of truth in their public statements, or who are more concerned about their own legacy than that of Jesus Christ. They refuse to donate one more dollar to man-made monuments that mark their own achievements and guarantee their place in history. They are unimpressed by accredited degrees and endowed chairs…that produce young people incapable of defending the Bible or unwilling to devote their lives to serving others. And Revolutionaries are embarrassed by language that promises Christian love and holiness but turns out to be all sizzle and no substance.
Revolutionaries zealously pursue an intimate relationship with God, which Jesus Christ promised we could have through him.
No office politics exist because there is no office to rule, no official positions to win, and no ‘stuff’ that matters. All that matters is pleasing the Boss. And that is accomplished by ignoring all of the usual goals in favor of being godly.
(Jesus’) message is profoundly simple: stay in touch with God and follow your instructions as they are provided. It’s all about deepening your relationship with God, not about consistently engaging in the routines.
But I am not in agreement with all of his assessments and conclusions. Though he talks some about the importance of intimate relationship with God, he is far more focused on what Christians should be doing. We’ll get into some of that on the podcast later this week. You can see a summary of the book at his website, or you can order the book from Amazon.com. If you have comments, questions or observations you’d like us to interact with on our podcast later this week on this topic, please leave them on the The God Journey Blog.