« Revolution by George Barna | Main | The Congregation Strikes Back? »

April 10, 2007


JR Rozko

Although I can concur with everything Ryan is saying here, I am gonna go ahead and chime as one of those people who does think Barna went too far.

I offered a review of this book last year which you can find here - http://lifeasmission.com/blog/archives/130

Here's 1 paragraph from my post that encapsulate how I think he went too far...

"More than anywhere else, he loses me when he says, 'So if you are a Revolutionary, it is becasue you have sensed and responded to God’s calling to be such an imitator of Christ. It is not the church’s responsibility to make you into this mold. You are responsible for who you are…it is a covenant you make with God alone.'" - from pg. 70.

Notice how many times he mentions "you"? To me this signifies Barna's all too un-theological adoption of a personal sort of spirituality whereby individuals, quite apart from the life of a Christian community committed to sharing life and engaging in mission together, are responsible for their own relationship with God. Regrdless of how many different sources might be influencing our spiritual journey, there can be no substitute for the spiritual maturity which stems from living as a pat of a community committed to following Jesus in its life and mission together.


JR -- agreed -- by signing on to the global nature of the church, I was not signing on to the individualism implied in Barna's work...

zane anderson

Barna doesn't dismiss the local church at all. Even though his book was subtitled something about finding faith beyond the church walls, he later ascertained (on his website) that 80% of the Revolutionaries were still connected to traditional churches.



I attend what some have called a "seeker friendly" church. First, let me say that I grew up with the "do's and don'ts" type and I don't want to go back to that.

However, the basics of God's word was taught unlike today's "contemporary relavent messages" which are so watered down one hardly recognizes it to be a gospel message or lesson. I feel like I'm back at work listening to a sales presentation which has been rehearsed over and over. The scripture says the church has been given various offices for "the perfecting of the saints". I don't see it happening in my church. Lots of programs, yes, but if it effective long term?

I am convinced that many come for the beat of the music. In most cases, the songs do not uplift or magnify the name of Christ. The songs have no depth.

I love the great hymns and the scripure choruses that came in the '70's because they are rooted in the word of God and personal experiences. Our church doesn't blend the old with the new.

An acquaintance of my said, "I like our church because I'm never made to feel guilty". No, I don't want to be hammered every Sunday morning but little is said about the redemptive work of Christ and very little opportunity to accept Christ.

I'm also concerned about the lack of reverence in the place of worship. Often I feel like I'm at a rock concert, sporting event, picnic. The casualness that has crept in is alarming. No, I don't wear a three piece suit to church but neither do go any less than I would go to my office before I retired.

I do wonder where all this is going. All I know is that my wife and I get more from certain TV programs than we do in our seeker friendly church...and that's sad.

Donald Joseph Wilkins

Good review, definately an important topic.

I have a quick comment / question (Socratic Comment).

Does Barna actually say that? I understand that Barna emphasized taking personal ownership for your life and it being your responsibility, not someone else's, for you to committ to living the unconventional life that God calls us to.

But is this the same thing as Barna suggesting that we should try and live that out alone?? Surely not. Those are two different things. Further, Barna quite clearly, as Ryan, you cover in your review, emphasies the importance of community (deep friendship / companionship with other believers, a life of service / others focus, and generosity.)

Ask Barna and I'd bet he'd quickly tell you, he did not intend for you to walk away with an impression to the contrary.

Just a quick thought.

Bart Breen

Just chiming in with the observation that Barna answers many of the questions that some are raising with regard to how he views the Institutional Church in Pagan Christianity by George Barna and Frank Viola.

The corallary to that work Reimagining Church, is by Frank Viola alone, but I think it can fairly be said to reflect some of Barna's thinking as well.

I can understand the difficulty in grappling with some of these things given a Seminary's reliance upon the institutional church and the majority of students preparing for some form of formal clergy position or role.

However in all three works, (the two cited above and Barna's Revolution) I didn't see or sense that it was presented as an absolute that one couldn't or shouldn't attend or work within the organization. I think what some are responding so strongly against and extending out beyond what was said, is that it is not required that one work within the context of an organized local church or denomination and further that a large and increasing number are chosing to leave or not to come in the first place.

That's highly threatening to those who have confused the organization with the organism and especially threatening to those who draw their security and livelihood from that organization to any degree whether fiscally, physically, spiritually or psychologically. I know. I've been there.


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Good stuff, It might just work, although it seems easier when you have a plan.
Anyway, myself felt it was about time myself posted


interesting topic, come on! i will go on to take care.

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thanks. it is really helpful to understand the difference and similarity between missional church and emerging church.
as i am a pastor in Japan, i think ideas of emerging churches fit better than, so called, church growth how-to-techniques.

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  • Hi, welcome to my former blog! My name is Ryan Bolger, and this is where I posted my thoughts on Jesus, culture, new forms of community, among other things. Come visit me at my new blog: http://www.ryanbolger.com. I still teach at Fuller Seminary in Southern California where I'm doing some writing as well. Feel free to bounce around the new or old website -- I hope it might stir your imagination -- feel free to stir mine as well by leaving some comments, preferably at the new site... Peace...


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