I read a pre-release copy of George Barna's latest book, The Revolution back in the summer but have held off posting a review until now that it's actually available. As you can see from my previous post, a great number of my thoughts these days are on what it means to be the church as opposed to going to church. The Revolution considers this as well but takes it one step further...what if the most committed Christ-followers, those who are really "on fire," no longer attend church because it leaves them feeling spiritually drained and disconnected from God?
According to Barna's research, by the year 2025, "I expect that only about one-third of the population will rely upon a local congregation as the primary or exclusive means for experiencing and expressing their fait; one-third will do so through alternative forms of faith-based community; and one-third will realize their faith through the media, the arts, and other cultural institutions." Pretty radical stuff, yet not especially surprising considering the number of people I know who have "dropped-out" of church in the last couple of years. For the most part, these people would still consider themselves believers, but the local church and its institutions don't hold any appeal for them. So where do we go from here? This is where Barna spends the majority of his book.
He considers what a Revolutionary looks like, what a Revolutionary is looking for, what the local church needs to do in response, and how to become a revolutionary yourself. Note that becoming a “revolutionary” doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on your local church; it simply means living a radically different lifestyle and being the church in your community. Barna again, “These extreme God-lovers reform the culture simply by being true representations of who God made them to be. They do not create and enforce a carefully plotted and meticulously deployed agenda of reform. They simply live a holy and obedient life that a society suffering from the stranglehold of sin cannot ignore.”
There are many ramifications of this revolutionary shift and Barna is not afraid to tackle them head on: what will happen to church attendance in the next 20 years? How will this affect pastoral staffs? And who’s going to supply the funds to keep a church running? Good questions, all.
Label it what you will, there is a movement afoot in the church and George Barna has written a book that will provide a perfect summary for those who want to understand what the fuss is all about. It just might inspire you to start a revolution of your own. YYYYY