In God in the Wasteland, David F. Wells points to the problem of approaching the church from the angle of marketing. "A business is in the market simply to sell its products; it doesn't ask consumers to surrender themselves to the product. The church, on the other hand, does call for such a surrender. It is not merely marketing a product; it is declaring Christ's sovereignty over all of life and declaring the necessity of obedient submission to him and to the truth of his Word. When the church is properly fulfilling the task it has been assigned, it is demanding far more than any business would ever think of asking prospective customers. Simply put, the church is in the business of truth, not profit. Its message--the message of God's Word--enters the innermost place in a person's life, the place of secrets and anguish, of hope and despair, of guilt and forgiveness, and it demands to be heard and obeyed in a way that not even the most brazen and unprincipled advertisers would think of emulating."

As in the past, George Barna has served the church by describing and documenting trends that are shaping the culture and in revealing the superficiality and failings of all too many local congregations. Regrettably, his prescription is even worse than his diagnosis, for minimizing the importance of the local church runs directly counter to the Bible's vision for the Christian life. The real answer to Barna's concern is the recovery of biblical ecclesiology--a recovery that would relativize and revolutionize the entire landscape of contemporary Christianity in America.

The revolution we truly need is a recovery of the New Testament vision of the local church--a comprehensive embrace of the totality of congregational life, including all of the functions and marks revealed in Scripture. This is the great task to which this generation of Christians is called--and we will need Barna's Revolutionaries in order to make this happen. Channeling all these energies into a comprehensive recovery of the biblical vision for local churches would be a revolution worth joining--and worth celebrating. Viva that Revolution!


R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For more articles and resources by Dr. Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily national radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to www.albertmohler.com. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to www.sbts.edu. Send feedback to mail@albertmohler.com.

See also the most recent entries on Dr. Mohler's Blog.