First of all, I have to confess that this book bothered meâ€”but not so much that Iâ€™m unwilling or unable to recommend it to others. I think Revolution bugged me because at certain points it sounded so sectarian. To give Barna the benefit of the doubt, I think he did this unintentionally, not realizing how strong the â€œus-and-themâ€ undercurrents would be. However, if he intentionally tried to widen the chasm between â€œRevolutionariesâ€ and their less passionate counterparts, then he should explain his reasons for doing so and not throw Jesus into the mix as justification for his polarizing prose.
I do hope Barnaâ€™s right about this 20-million-strong revolution. Meaning, I hope the Spirit of God is leading the cultural upheaval Barna describes and not disillusioned baby boomers looking for a way to justify golfing on Sundays. While I was reading, I couldnâ€™t escape the thought that, minus the political partisanship, Barnaâ€™s revolution may be nothing more than the religious reincarnation of Jerry Falwellâ€™s Moral Majority. Since ancient times, thereâ€™s always been at least one group of people who believe that they are more moral, more right, more godly, more biblical than those theyâ€™re surrounded by. My hope is that this is not the stance of Barna or his Revolutionaries. At times it seemed to be.
Iâ€™m certainly not asking you to agree with my assessment or join with me in finding the similarities between Falwellâ€™s Majority and Barnaâ€™s Revolutionariesâ€”though that would be an interesting exercise. In the most indirect way, Iâ€™m asking you to read the book, especially if youâ€™re a church leader in the West. Some of what Barna predicts will affect us directly. For instance, we should know what â€œmini-movementsâ€ are currently influencing our congregations, whether positively or negatively. We should understand the cultural shift that Barna argues is already underway. We should be excited by the fact that another â€œGreat Awakeningâ€ may be moving Christians beyond the walls of our sanctuaries and into the streets of our cities. This is very good news indeed, because when the church has ceased to be a missionary movement, it has ceased to be the church.
And though Iâ€™m uneasy with Barnaâ€™s willingness to disavow the church in favor of â€œmini-movementsâ€ and alternative ecclesiastical expressions, here are ten things, free of commentary, which I did like about Barnaâ€™s Revolution:
- 1. Its prophetic nature.
2. Its willingness to challenge the churchâ€™s obsession with size.
3. Its emphasis on a fruitful Christian life and what that looks like.
4. Its honest appraisal of the local church.
5. Its strong conviction that Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the hope of the world.
6. Its emphasis on spiritual transformation, including an â€œintended meaningâ€ of the term.
7. Its respect for para-church movements and organizations.
8. Its passionate pragmatism.
9. Its readiness to discard ministry programs that are spiritually ineffective.
10. Its encouragement to proactively engage with the revolution and its adherents.