Monday, January 22, 2007

The revolution is here

I've never read such a short book that was so quotable.

George Barna's Revolution: Finding vibrant faith beyond the walls of the sanctuary is a quick, scary read. Quick, in that it's 140 pages. Scary, in that he puts forth very plainly the revolution that is occurring throughout Christianity and the resistance it will bring in consequence.

I have to say up front that I do not agree with Barna's theology, to the extent that he probably wouldn't consider me a Christian. But what he's saying about the movement he's spent his life studying applies in many points to what I've been observing amidst my own.

Basically, he's highlighting a movement of unchurched adherents who are still passionate about the teaching and living it in their lives. They have left their local churches not because they are irreligious, but because they're *too* religious, and the church hasn't kept up with them. They find community in smaller connections, and they find a sense of mission by devoting their entire lives to the cause.

This is, apparently, freaking out the local churches. Pastors are thumping their Bibles maintaining that being unchurched is unbiblical. But Barna presents a strong case through biblical research that the church as it exists today (congregants gathering weekly in a building) was not what early Christians experienced or expected. So there's nothing inherently misguided about following a different path. Barna calls those who do so "Revolutionaries."

Here's some parts of his book that especially resonated with me:

Know this: just as the prophets of old were unwelcome in their own hometown, so are Revolutionaries looked at askance by even their closest friends and family members. The skepticism of those who lead conventional spiritual lives is a palpable reminder that growth always comes with a price tag.

In the end, the Revolution transforms believers so that they can transform the world. Their perception of faith becomes more real and personal. Their relationship with God becomes more natural and intimate. … The very life of the believer becomes a means of worship and outreach. Tent-making—the practice of working at a non-religious job as a means of paying the bills while facilitating one's desire to be a genuine representative of Christ in the world—moves from a quirky, first-century idea to a defining, personal lifestyle.

Existing churches have a historic decision to make: to ignore the Revolution and continue business as usual, to invest energy in fighting the Revolution as an unbiblical advance, or to look for ways of retaining their identity while cooperating with the Revolution as a mark of unity and genuine ministry. My current research suggests the latter approach will be the least common.

The Affirmations of a Revolutionary [partial list]

  • God created me for His purposes. My desire as a Revolutionary is to fulfill those ends, and those ends alone. When I get out of bed each day, I do so for one purpose: to love, obey, and serve God and His people.
  • I am not called to attend or join a church. I am called to be the Church.
  • Worship is not an event I attend or a process I observe; it is the lifestyle I lead.

Even though I know Barna doesn't mean me, I still became energized reading his book. The more time I spend online with folks who want to explore Christian Science, the more I think I'm tapping into something similar—an on-fire group of people who want to engage with the ideas more deeply and fully, who do not want to be judged but supported, who do not want to theorize about spirituality but to experience it directly.

Christian Science itself is revolutionary. Are you part of the revolution within the revolution?

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 1/22/2007 12:00:00 PM, Blogger Kim said...

o thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. Even revolutionaries need to feel a sense of belonging.


At 1/22/2007 09:19:00 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Power to the people!!! I see praying hands lifted up in solidarity...and I see us all hugging...eachother and anyone else who wants to snuggle in!

love you both and all, Kate


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