Review: "Revolution" by George Barna
There’s a grassroots movement taking place in America. Many committed believers are pulling away from the obligation of traditional Sunday morning church in pursuit of a more meaningful one-on-one relationship with God. These Revolutionaries are being looked at askance by friends, family & most certainly their fellow church-going Christians. Yet Barna feels these Christian zealots will radically reshape both our American society & the Christian Church. Their legacy is likely to be a spiritual reformation of unprecedented proportion in the United States, & perhaps the world.
Barna discusses 7 Passions of the Early Church: Intimate worship, faith-based conversations, intentional spiritual growth, servanthood, resource investment, spiritual friendships & family faith. The proof of people’s faith is not in the information they know or the religious gatherings they attend, but in the way they integrate what they know & believe into their everyday lives. A Christian’s lifestyle should provide irrefutable evidence of a complete devotion to Jesus. Revolutionaries are taking personal responsibility for their lives. Barna’s contention is that the local Church isn’t providing the environment for a living, breathing relationship with God that these people desire.
Barna does praise the 2000 year history of the Church & shutters to think what the world would be like without its influence. However, the Church is not the hope of the world today. Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the hope of the world. Local churches are one way to bring people closer to God & help us to be more like Him, but Barna’s research is leading him to believe that overall, churches are not doing the job. The Revolutionary mind-set is simple: Do whatever it takes to get closer to God & to help others do the same. The Revolution is about recognizing that we are not called to go to church. We are called to be the Church.
Barna discusses societal trends of generational traits, technology, emphasis on relationships, looking for meaning, etc. that are feeding this Revolution. Christians are coming to see that the local church is not – and need not be – the epicenter of their spiritual adventure. They’re open to the possibility of God meeting them in other ways & places. The movement is fed by the insistence on having choices, customized & practical faith experiences, spiritual depth, novelty and the need for flexible scheduling. The 2 fastest growing church models are house churches and cyberchurch formats.
Revolutionaries see that they’re called to influence the world rather than to be influenced by it. They take responsibility for who they are & accept a personal covenant with God alone. They understand that their life choices reflect what they believe to be most important – in all areas of their lives, not just Sunday mornings. The internal change produces external results that capture the attention of those around them.
This new Revolution differs from past Awakenings in that its primary impetus is not salvation among the unrepentant, but the personal renewal & recommitment of believers. The impact on local churches will continue to be profound (it’s already being felt). Churches will feel increasing pressure to get more serious about ministry & to lock onto a vision from God for the congregation’s existence. Attendance will decline & donations will drop as Christians devote their time & money to other ministry ventures. Salaried pastors will decline as denominations go through cutbacks. To some, this will sound like the Great Fall of the Church, but to others it will be a welcomed Great Reawakening of the Church.
There will be resistance. Those who ignore the movement altogether & those who are antagonistic toward the Revolution. Many will be tolerant & attempt to coexist and others will join the movement years down the road when it becomes more accepted & fashionable. For now, Revolutionaries accept that there will be criticism from many sides. They are God-lovers & willing to do whatever it takes to draw closer to Him, bond with Him & bring Him glory & pleasure.
May our local churches embrace the heart & soul of the Revolution. God is at work & it behooves us to grab on to His coattails. Barna ends his book with suggestions for local churches & leadership. The Revolution is not our enemy. Our enemy is spiritual complacency that can’t contain this extraordinary move of God in the hearts of His people.
– Sue Berger
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© 2006 One Pilgrim's Musings