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April 09, 2007



Barnas book recognizes a response in the church to something... but I think he trys to build this new "revolution" into just another set of rules and definitions. I don't know if what is happening fits into some definable box like that. Take a look at a few websites that talk about a life with The Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit outside of the institutional church: http://www.lifestream.org

Some great stuff on these sites!


Agreed -- it is boxy and reductionistic -- I looked to see what I could take away from the book...

Tyler Watson

Thanks for the review, Ryan. I agree that there is much to appreciate and critique about Revolution. My main criticism -- I wrote my review here -- is that I thought Barna discounts community. Communities seem to have a pragmatic purpose for Barna in that they can help individuals become more devout revolutionaries, i.e., to help persons develop their personal relationship with Jesus. There really isn't any discussion that Christ calls people into community or what God expects of communities.


Tyler, I agree -- Barna retains an individualistic focus on faith -- he doesn't describe what it might mean to be the corporate people of God...

Good to hear from you, by the way!


Tyler... I don't think Barna is discounting community. I think he is just reporting what he sees out there.

Tyler Watson

Glenn, I disagree. It's been over a year since I read the book, so take what follows with a grain of salt. I think Barna's discussions of what it means to be a revolutionary are more than reporting what he sees; he is also making an argument. His reading of the gospel and the life of faith focuses on the individual. Community is good for Barna because it helps the individual grow closer to God. To an extent he is reporting the dominant evangelical understanding of being a Christ-follower, i.e., it is about Jesus and me. Barna doesn't challenge this assumption. He challenges the assumptions that we can stop in at a church worship service once a week and get our shot of spirituality with statistics and exhortations for service, stronger biblical study, new expressions of worship. He challenges the idea that traditional congregations are and will remain the primary loci for Christians to gather with discussions of small groups, house churches, other grass roots organizations, etc. I agree with these challenges. But he never challenges the individualism of discipleship with biblical discussions of God gathering a people, of Christ calling people into community, or with stories of Christ-followers who have decided to work against the fraying tendencies of our society by living life together.


a little late, yes. but pertinent all the same. i read this book when it came out, but it didn't really hit me then. i've since recently re-read it, resigned from my position at a declining southern baptist church, and i'm starting over....


Mike G

Oh for goodness sake. We work so hard to give so much credit to those whose idea we oppose. Too hard.

Barna, regardless of what he does with his social statistics (a dubious science in itself, not given to the exactitude of math or physics, to be sure) is a poor student of church history and certainly of theology.

He paints these "revolutionaries" with rose colored glasses, as if there is a pure group of true Christians out there, doing the real thing. Silliness. All serious Christians know that the Christian life is a very imperfect path that requires quite a bit of insecurity and perseverance. I don't think this class of uberChristian revolutionaries exist. My guess is that many people just can't get along with others so they go home.

Secondly, what is missing, that any freshman Bible College student should be able to get, is the leadership that God establishes through the assembled church. The unmanagable mess that results from the 20 million free agents would not bring the Kingdom forward, but would put it on its ear.

One of the major failings of the modern church, perhaps, is we have quoted Barna's statistics so often that we give him credibility as a leader in the church. He is not.

This strange book will soon be on the rubbish heap of history. It is not a new idea and it is one that will not stand the test of time.

Now, you students out there, dispense with it, and get on with the real work of the Kingdom!


I agree with Barna that the church is facing change. In the age of immediate information - how can it not? My opinion is that the book was best when it focused on the data. When Barna started extrapolating, I think he came off as highly optimistic.

But, if nothing else, we should take it as a reaffirmation that the internet community is a powerful force and should be utilized as a tool for Jesus.

I was inspired by this book to start an online community for Christian women. In today's society, women are pressured to be perfect in everything. This site gives them a chance to discuss things anonymously with other Christian women for advice and support.

I am a part of The Revolution. RealWomanForJeus.com

Mary B

Statisitcs or not, I am a Revolutionary and I wasn't influenced by any book or person. Just a desire to live this life not go through the religious motions anymore. I and my husband have been in the Church for twenty years and it took a crisis of faith in my teenagers to see what a pharisee I was. Our rules and judgementalism is not changing the world. This is a huge change in my life because I was so dogmatic. Now I am growong close to God intimately without the distractions of C and all the duties. The Lord brought seven different people across my path just last week to share his love and not his rules with them. Its His kindness that led me to repentance not the threat of hell. I am...

Returning to My First Love,


Bart Breen

I'm late to this party.

Good conversation. I would just add that there are two books out subsequently that fill in the blanks I think to the elements that some may be struggling with both in terms of the assessment of the traditional institutional church and more positively what Barna might be saying about community and body life.

Barna is the co-author with Frank Viola of Pagan Christianity and then Viola has a partner work to PC which is called Reimagining Church which might, by association anyway, reflect some of what Barna is trying to say within Revolution.

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Wayne Horne

Are there not two churches? The Church Christ established beginning with Peter and John and the church men established with man-centered religion at a later date and which seems to prevail today within the evil empire of North American culture. For me, Barna is simply saying, Let's get back to the original Christ directed Church by being seekers and followers of the risen Lord, and by doing the Great Commission on a person to person basis.

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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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