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December 28, 2005

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» Cawley, Storms, and Barna from ryan::wentzel
No, its not some new musical group. Kevin Cawley is re-posting Sam Storms reflections on George Barnas book Revolution Kevin says that Storms website does not work well with Firefox or Safari, thus the re-posts allow those ... [Read More]

Comments

Deea

"The Revolution is a movement of people who easily could but refuse to do so, believing that for them, at any rate, true spirituality and authentic obedience to God and a genuine, thriving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is possible only by forsaking membership in, support of, and allegiance to a local congregation of believers." ... ~ Barna does not state that they refused or that it is the ONLY way, but rather that they have tried and searched but have not found it in a current church. The fact is that typically in America we have defined our relationship with Christ to be our membership to the local buildiing, and ongoing attendance to it and it's functions.

"OK. So be a part of a religious community that IS intentionally and aggressively advancing God’s Kingdom! Contrary to what some might think, such churches do exist.]" ...~ exist, yes, but not everywhere. It is difficult to find passion, conviction, discipleship and aggression in advancement of Kingdom sometimes.

It isn't my purpose to pick apart Mr. Storms, I just simply want to say that:
* A 'local church' is a gathering of THE CHURCH. Whether they pay a pastor, meet in a paid for building, or have an office staff with computers.
* When action and direction of a leadership serves to produce a consumption mentality and a deprivation of time and resources where any life outside of 4 walls is exhausting or has to be charged because you have given to every program and building project, they are denying the believers the joy of being a follower of Christ and are not proclaiming "Jesus alone is the Hope of the world."
* From what I have read of Revelution and heard from Barna's own mouth, He intends this as:
A) a wake up call to local paid staff to see the ineffectiveness of the American church.
B) a validation for those whave have feelings that run in these veins.
C) a call to believers to not give up on or write off those who have chosen to follow Christ in a way that is different from our ingrained tradition and patterns.

How is Biblical fidelty comprimised by believers NOT: attending a massive meeting at a set building where 3 fast songs & 3 slow songs are sung, a prayer is said, the Word is spoken by the paid point man, hands are shook with the fly-by "How are you?", "Fine. Fine." 's, and $$ is dropped in a dish before heading on their merry way for the reaminder of the week IF: they are meeting somewhere with believers and discussing life and The Word regularly, taking time to get to know their unsaved neighbors & shoot some pool or play some golf, and giving of their resources to share a meal or giving directly to a missionary and challenging their friends to do the same?
I say all this as a member of a local congregation. I love being a part of it. I do feel frustrated and irritated by some of the things Barna points to. My pastors would tell you that we have been vitally involved and given of all we are and have in the past 18 years. I say all this as someone who wants more, and is afraid of being a "labled" by people such as Mr. Storms if I were to attempt a Revelution.

Kevin Cawley

Deea--

I don't have much time to check the computer today, so apologies if you have more thoughts and I don't get a chance to comment back on them for a while. But, in the meantime, a few thoughts for you:

1) I think that maybe you are getting too riled up about this. Perhaps read Barna again, read Storms again, and then ask if you are giving Dr. Storms the benefit of the doubt.

2) Your question about Biblical fidelity NOT being compromised by ... seems a bit overblown.

3) What constitutes the church in your understanding? Do the Reformation marks of Word and Sacrament play a big role for you? What about elders? The diverse gifts of the Body functioning together? The Body of Christ participating together in the mission of God? Other components? Can this happen, given your example, shooting pool or playing golf? I would suggest that those things are not "church." They can be great examples of friendship and hospitality and evangelism-- but why do we need to call them Church?

4) Finally, since you have been a member of a church for 18 years, what is all the fuss about? It seems to me like Dr. Storms' critique doesn't apply to you...So, why the animosity?

Deea

Kevin ~
Not riled, not fussing... Honest! And you are right, Dr. Storms doesn't apply to me. I was just questioning. I tend to route for the underdog, and in this case, that is Barna. To be honest the idea of all this scares me (as far as me doing it{Revolution} goes), but it intrigues me as well.
To your comments/ questions - I agree that "things" done (golf, pool) don't constitute 'church' ~ because we are the church. Whatever we do/say in the name of Christ that doesn't contradict His Word and is a fulfillment of the commission He gave us constitutes church. I agree that many members gifts need to function together, and that elders are an intricate and vital part of spiritual growth and maturity, as is the breaking of bread, prayer, fasting, and the hearing of the Word. If we have all those things outside of the modern model of the 'church' in North America, why Can't it be called a church? I guess what I'm trying to say is Barna's prediction doesn't scare me IF these believers are simply trying more fervantly to be Christ's touch to a lost world while staying in fellowship with one another and not becoming hermits or isolationists, or judges of the current model.
I ran off copies of both of your posts by Storms, and I will read them again. Let me just apologize for seeming riled. I'm truly sorry.

Kevin Cawley

Deea--

Thanks for the clarification and no sweat! Perhaps your husband can make up for your antagonism by giving us a good deal on a car when we leave Vancouver ;-)

Since when is Barna the underdog? And, given his statistics, wouldn't the underdog in this case be the TRADITIONAL church?

Deea

Kevin--
Poor James...He's always having to make up for my antagonism. *sigh*
I think Barna is the underdog here because this idea/movement is new and the Traditional church is established and entrenched already. At least, as far as I know, if someone says "church" they aren't thinking "those revolutionaries Barna gave the statistics for". :)

Zane Anderson

Hi there Deea in the above comment.

I am not convinced that Barna supplied us with much basis for these out of church revolutionaries which "he gave the statistics for." I expected better documentation.

Steve Cornell
Kevin Cawley

Steve--

Sorry for edititing you comment out, but I would rather people engage with the issue instead of just pasting 26 pages of word documents into the comments section here. If you want to post something of that length, I suggest you get a blog for yourself.

Thanks for stopping by.

David Allen

Having read 4 Barna books but not Revolution, I've kind of sworn off of him. For at least 5-7 years he has written much on what's wrong with the church, yet he is very weak on offering solutions. From what limited info I know of his biography, I'd like to know if he has ever led a group of volunteers, motivated them by arousing their spiritual passion, and was successful in converting their world views from secular to a biblical one.

How many of the "revolutionaries" dropped out of the local body not out of conviction for a purer life but anger about a perceived insult or snub?

We can justifiably criticize the church of today until the King comes back. Problem is, the churches of the NT were as immoral, unfocused, distracted, ungodly, cold, unscriptural, etc as we accuse the present day church. Read Paul's epistles; Carnal Corinth, fighting heresy in Galatia, divided Philippi, and who would want that SLAVE OWNER Philemon for a member? how would you like to be a member of the church in Thyatira? Yet Jesus called the group at Thyatira a church, extended His love to them, and offered them opportunity to repent. And they were all probably revolutionary house churches! With young men sleeping with their stepmoms! For some reason, Jesus still loves this dysfunctional group called the church.

Lois

It seems to me that when you take the local church out of the life of a christian, you also take the Pastor out of His life - and Jesus said the sheep are scattered without a shepherd. He not only died to save you, but to give gifts to the church (Eph. 4) which include the Pastor. Hearing the voice of a Pastor is the most important voice for a christian to hear - not the only voice - but definitely the governing voice (I Cor. 12:28) that puts the other gifts - apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher - in their proper place in your life. Paul's last words to the leaders of the church in Ephesus is noteworthy to this point - "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you an overseer - shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own Blood". Without Local churches, we are without Pastors. Without Pastors, we will not have the ability to sustain any "revolution" in any person.

Robert Hahn

George Barna began his career by writing about the non-Christians in church (people who attend but don't really believe). Then he moved to getting non-believers into church (the seeker movement). Now he writes about true believers who don't go to church.

First, let's understand George has a career at stake here. He needs to write the next book, come up with the subject for his speaking tour and training sessions (look for "How To Get Revolutionaries into Your Church" training).

Finally let's remember that Biblical Community (the local church) is a product of the work of the Holy Spirit. When a group of people are Spirited-filled, as Barna claims the Revolutionaries are, church occurs almost spontaneously.

Mr. Barna is wrong - the local church will remain - flawed yet beautiful. The church ain't going away until He returns to claim her.

Dave Gray

Yes, its true Barna has something at stake, but so do the pastors of most evangelical churches. Consider that most of those who are (negatively) critical of this book are pastors (or training to be such). Is it little wonder they have a problem with a book that gives freedom for people to choose not to attend church every week (or tithe for that matter)?

It’s time for the Church to re-think church! It is time for the Church to live out its mandate as individuals and not rely on pastoral leadership to do all the work. Yes, we are one in Faith and the Holy Spirit, we are one Church, we need the whole body to be effective, but we are also individuals with direct accountability to God.

I believe the revolutionaries are so fired up about serving Christ and loving the world that they cannot stand next to lukewarm friends who are well meaning but have no desire to be salt and light in the world. It’s time for an imbalance to be corrected, and I feel this is what Barna is seeing.

Jesus highlighted the need for us to love one another, and I feel it’s time for church leaders to bite their tongues, swallow their pride, and take Barna’s advice to love the revolutionaries and minister to them… If these people are as passionate and switched-on as George is saying then they will bring in the harvest that Christ has been wooing to Himself. The revolutionaries will need support and encouragement, and who knows, the local church just may grow because of it…

Kevin Cawley

David--

I'm assuming that this is a "drive-by" comment. But, since you posted it, I'm going to share three thougts as a quasi-response:

1) Did you read the article(s) linked from this post, or were you merely taking an opportunity to share your thoughts about about Barna?

2) What do you mean that "the local church may just grow becasue of it?" Isn't your first premise that we need to "rethink" Church?

3) Do you honestly want to attempt to turn a biblical imperative (tithing) into a conspiracy theory?

I have several more thoughts-- as this is something I haven't thought about in MONTHS-- but I doubt you'll be back here. Thanks for stopping by.

Jon Daley

Quote: [OK. So be a part of a religious community that IS intentionally and aggressively advancing God’s Kingdom! Contrary to what some might think, such churches do exist.]

I also happen to be "driving by" after reading Barna's book last night. I will eventually get around to an entire blog post on the subject (and I really liked the book - describes a lot of what I think, though I can't claim to be a "spiritual champion" or some of the other strong descriptions he uses), but for now, I will just respond to your comment on the availability of "real" churches.

I think there are many churches here (Pittsburgh, PA) that would like to claim the words you wrote, but I don't know of any that actually exist. We currently drive 30 minutes to a church that I don't agree with a lot of their doctrines and practices, because it is a church that is "better than average" (Barna's words).

Most people I talk to, when I ask them about a particular bible verse say that they don't think it is particularly relevant to our life today, or haven't ever really thought about it, and don't have any interest in a discussion -- that holds for just about any verse. There are a few here and there that are interested in an academic discussion, but hardly any that haven't already decided what they know, and no bible verse is going to change that, no matter how crazy an interpretation they have to make up in order to have it fit with their current beliefs.

Please suggest any churches that you know of in the Pittsburgh area (or anywhere, we could move).

[For those readers that might come along later - if you happen to live in Pittsburgh, look me up -- I should be pretty easy to find on the internet, etc]

I am a part of local Christian fellowship in a small town in West Tennessee. We gather together frequently. We pray together. We sing songs and worship together. We study Scripture together. We uphold and support one another (spiritually, emotionally, and financially). We engage in acts of outreach and compassion in our community. We are deeply involved in each other's lives, with a closeness and depth of relationship that goes beyond anything I have ever observed in other church bodies or congregations.
The thing is that we just don't happen to own a church building - and we're not saving up money to buy one. We're perfectly content to meet in our own homes or at the park or the lake (if the weather's nice) or wherever we happen to decide to meet. We also lack a few other things, such as an official church charter, by-laws, an official document stating our church doctrine, an official membership roll, and (though we certainly do have leadership)defined offices or positions.
The question I'm raising is this: Does the lack of these traditional trappings of institutionalized Western church culture exempt us from being a legitimate, God-ordained, bonified church.
Though many might disagree, I say it doesn't.
Are we revolutionaries seeking to throw down the old oppressive order of institutionalized Christianity or are we a pack of misguided rebels trying to do things our own way in disregard of scriptural teachings?
I don't think we're either. We're just trying to follow a vision of church that we believe that God has given us. And as chaotic and disorganized as it might sound, it's working very well so far.
Now, is it God's will that every Christian do church like we're doing it? I seriously doubt it, though I do believe that there is presently a global, Spirit-breathed push to reinstate Christ as the real head and central focus of the church universal,by which I mean a state of affairs in which He literally communicates with and directs His people (both individually and corporately) in real time without having His directives bogged down in committees, conventions, and theological arguments or constrained by inflexible liturgies, doctrines, and administrative structures.
Modern Christianity has become a deafening din with thousands of voices preaching thousands of versions of God's supposed will and plan for the church. I think Christ is just trying to retrain His sheep to tune out all the religious clamour, latch on to His voice and then follow wherever He leads.

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