Thoughts on George Barna’s Revolution


Thoughts on George Barna’s Revolution


Barna has created a stir with his latest book “Revolution” and I wanted to know what it was about. He said that Revolutionaries have large abandoned the local church and have embraced alternative ways of being the church. Despite being a candidate for one of

Barna’s revolutionaries I am still uncomfortable with this thought.

In the book the term “local church” and “congregation” seem to be used interchangeably. On page 62 he defines the congregational model as “a definable group of people who regularly meet at the same place to engage in religious routines and programs under the guidance of a paid pastor who provides doctrinal teaching and organizational direction.”

He believes that people will shift from this to different kinds of churches which designates as macro-models or micro-models. Macro-models attempt to fulfill all the different aspects of church. A house church would be part of that. The micro-models are where people get live out different aspects of church life in different places. A city wide worship event is an example of micro-model church experience.

I believe the ideal situation for the church is a macro-model but so very few people, even leaders in the established churches really believe in it. We have a worship experience here. We’ll go to a concert their. We’ll listen to a teaching tape from this ministry. We’ll send our kids to this bible camp. We go to that college or seminary. The place and role of the local church has been undercut by alternative ministries for decades. I’m not sure so many of our pastors have the right to get flaming mad at Barna over his book. I don’t agree with Barna on a couple of points but I’m afraid people would rather shoot the messenger than deal with the message.

On page 123 Barna says “It [the revolution] has stimulated my curiosity and restored my hope for the Christian body in America.” I think it is safe to say Barna had lost almost all faith in the church in America. He held up a mirror to the church in America and was seemed very discouraged by what he saw. He attempted to make a difference through books and conferences and found it made no impact. In his research he found one group of people that bucked the trend. In an ironic twist these people were the ones that had moved to the margins or right off the margins of established churches.

I think Barna’s theology of the church has weaknesses but his findings should compel us to ask a difficult question. Why has Barna found that church people make lousy Christians? Why are the people in the margins doing better? I’m not sure if Barna’s critics are really dealing with that question. The establishment of local churches is not an end in itself; it is a means to accomplish something for the Kingdom of God.

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