Is the Next 'Revolution' the Demise of the Local Church?
- Tuesday, February 14, 2006
The modern age has been the age of revolution, and the world we now inhabit has been shaped by a series of earth-shaking revolutions that have altered the cultural, economic, political, and personal lives we lead.
Now, researcher George Barna declares a new revolution--a revolution on behalf of spiritual vitality, but at the expense of the local church. In Revolution, Barna never seems to take refuge in understatement. To the contrary, he demonstrates a marketer's bravado when he declares: "Whether you want to or not, you will have to take a stand in regard to the Revolution. It is on track to become the most significant recalibration of the American Christian body in more than a century. Your response ought not to be based on whether you are comfortable with it, but rather on its consistency with biblical principles and its capacity to advance the Kingdom of God. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you must understand this Revolution of faith because it is already impacting your life, and it will continue to do so in the years to come."
So there. Of course, from the very onset some may question the earth-shaking significance of a "revolution" announced in a 140-page book, no matter how shocking its cover and publicity. Of course, The Communist Manifesto was a short treatise as well, but this hardly seems a fair comparison.
When George Barna talks about the revolution he perceives, he speaks about "an explosion of spiritual energy and activity" that is "likely to be the most significant transition in the religious landscape that you will ever experience." He begins his manifesto by illustrating his "revolution" by means of a conversation between David and Michael, two representative postmoderns. Both of these men, depicted as playing golf on Sunday morning rather than going to church, are described as having been "driven out of their longtime church by boredom and the inability to serve in ways to make use of their considerable skills and knowledge." Beyond this, their response took the shape of two very different trajectories. David "decided to develop his own regimen of spiritual practices and activities in order to retain a vibrant spiritual life." Michael, on the other hand, "chose to call a truce with God and simply get on with life, sans church."
As Barna describes them, both think of themselves as "deeply spiritual" persons. Beyond this, both affirm the truth and reliability of the Bible and pray before meals. Both complain of being chastised by pastors for their failure to be involved in the local church.
Of the two, David represents Barna's "Revolutionary Christian." As such, he is "not willing to play religious games" and has little interest "in being a part of a religious community that is not intentionally and aggressively advancing God's Kingdom."
As Barna acknowledges, "We live in an era of hyperbole." Evidently, he has decided to join in hyperbolic expression. He acknowledges that the very idea of revolution is one that has attracted the attention of marketers. He identifies the Revolutionaries as a group of relatively young adults, now numbering over two hundred million persons. They are frustrated with local church life, have grown to distrust ministry leaders, and are determined to do more than "go with the flow" of contemporary evangelicalism.
And who wouldn't want what Barna's Revolutionaries desire? "They are seeking a faith experience that is more robust and awe inspiring, a spiritual journey that prioritizes transformation at every turn, something worthy of the Creator whom their faith reflects. They are seeking the spark provided by a commitment to true revolution and thinking, behavior, and experience, where settling for what is merely good and above average is defeat."
Recently on Pastors / Leadership
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content