In George Barna's REVOLUTION: Finding Vibrant Faith Beyond the Walls of the Sanctuary, the renowned pollster and author of classics such as THE FROG IN THE KETTLE and USER FRIENDLY CHURCHES offers insight into the latest demographic and social trends he sees shaping the church of the twenty-first century.
Barna believes there is a dramatic paradigm shift that is taking place in the country --- not only by the way people view their church and faith but also by how they interact with their world. He points to the rise of postmodernism, the impact of technology, and demographic shifts, as well as the hunger for genuine relationships.
He argues that the church is experiencing one of the biggest revolutions of our age, namely that countless committed followers of Jesus are skipping Sunday morning services and organized church events in order to take their faith into the world that needs it most. While many may shrink from this trend, Barna argues that statistically the local church is not as healthy as some would like to believe. He notes that the typical church believer will die without leading one person to knowledge of Jesus Christ, and only 9 percent of all born-again adults have a biblical worldview acknowledging that absolute moral truth exists. Statistics show that the average churched Christians give away only 3 percent of their income, and fewer than one out of every six churched believers has a relationship with another believer that offers some sort of spiritual accountability. As a result, many believers are looking to grow spiritually outside the borders of the traditional church environment.
Barna believes that these Christians are not just following a make-your-own-way, do-it-yourself, feel-good spirituality, but rather seeking to know Jesus and make him known in relevant, real ways to unbelievers as well as each other. As a result, alternative faith-based communities are beginning to grow and expected to explode in growth over the next two decades while the local church is expected to diminish as the primary way people experience and express their faith. In the midst of these changes, revolutionaries --- people who are passionate about God and making Him known --- are beginning to rise up.
He writes, "Rather than relying on a relative handful of inspired preachers to promote a national revival, the emerging Revolution is truly a grassroots explosion of commitment to God that will refine the Church and result in a natural and widespread immersion in outreach. This is the Church being resorted so the Holy Spirit can work effectively through the body of Christ."
Overall, REVOLUTION is a thought-provoking, insightful book that undoubtedly will start new conversations among faith-based leaders. Recommended for anyone wondering where the church is heading in the twenty-first century.
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg on October 1, 2005