Saturday, January 3, 2009

Why are a million people a year leaving their churches and not looking back?

Where are they going? Who are they? What are they like?

After reading a recent article published by The Barna Group, I began to look for some answers, and began with a book that George Barna was recommending -- which he had incidentally written: "Revolution."

Of course the title would immediately appeal to those who still hear John Lennon singing "Gotta be a revolution..." in their heads, and who discovered Karl Marx in college (the new revolutionaries are Marxian, not Marxist).

Is there a revolution? After reading Geroge Barna's book and experiencing that strange sensation that he must know me (because he is describing my thoughts uncannily well) I decided that the Spirit must be on the move.

But what is God doing right now? Why would He be emptying His churches?

"Pagan Christianity," written by George Barna with his friend Frank Viola, offered some ideas. Perhaps, they posited, the institutional church, founded in 325 by Constantine, and reformed five hundred years ago by Martin Luther, John Calvin and a few others, was in need of more than an overhaul. Perhaps the institutional church model has run its course, and the new way is really a return to the original way.

Reformers have been yearning after a return to the church of Acts, the "first church," the "original church," for a long time. there have been revivals, Dissenters of even the first protestants (clear back in the sixteen hundreds the Quakers and Anabaptists were dissenting the mainstream reform movement. Didja know the Quakers included both men and women prophets and teachers?). There have been reformers of the reformers, Disciples of Christ, the Plymouth Brethren.

How is this new "revolution" not a replay of all these other "revolutions"?

We had to wait a full year for the next installment, this time written solely by Frank Viola, but clearly covering twenty years and more of in-the-field research and experience. "Reimagining Church." The first half of the book is still pretty rough (in my opinion); the last half of the book has been distilled to the tincture of purity in inspiration, truth and revelation.

My next blog will be my own review of that book, beginning with some observations about "Pagan Christianity."

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