Ten Things I Liked about Barna's 'Revolution'

First of all, I have to confess that this book bothered me—but not so much that I’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 “us-and-them” undercurrents would be. However, if he intentionally tried to widen the chasm between “Revolutionaries” 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 Barna’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 couldn’t escape the thought that, minus the political partisanship, Barna’s revolution may be nothing more than the religious reincarnation of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority. Since ancient times, there’s always been at least one group of people who believe that they are more moral, more right, more godly, more biblical than those they’re surrounded by. My hope is that this is not the stance of Barna or his Revolutionaries. At times it seemed to be.

I’m certainly not asking you to agree with my assessment or join with me in finding the similarities between Falwell’s Majority and Barna’s Revolutionaries—though that would be an interesting exercise. In the most indirect way, I’m asking you to read the book, especially if you’re a church leader in the West. Some of what Barna predicts will affect us directly. For instance, we should know what “mini-movements” 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 “Great Awakening” 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 I’m uneasy with Barna’s willingness to disavow the church in favor of “mini-movements” and alternative ecclesiastical expressions, here are ten things, free of commentary, which I did like about Barna’s Revolution:

 

    1. Its prophetic nature. 2. Its willingness to challenge the church’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 “intended meaning” 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.