What follows are what I thought were the most important things Barna said -- and some thoughts about the issues he raises.
1. Barna states that there may be somewhere around 20 million people in the USA who he defines as "revolutionaries" -- Christians who " are confidently returning to a first-century lifestyle based on faith, goodness, love, generosity, kindness, simplicity and other values deemed quaint by today's frenetic and morally untethered standards" (page 12).
2. What are some of the characteristics of these "revolutionaries"? Barna states the following:
- They have no use for churches that play religious games (page 13)
- They refuse to follow people in ministry leadership positions who cast a personal vision rather than God's. (page 14)
- They refuse to donate money to man-made monuments that mark their own achievements. (page 14)
- They are unimpressed with accredited degrees from Christian colleges and seminaries. (page14)
- They zealously pursue an intimate relationship with God. (page 15)
- Intimate Worship (page 22)
- Faith-based Conversations. In other words, evangelism is about relationships and conversations, not marketing, big events, etc. (page 23)
- Intentional Spiritual Growth. Revolutionaries don't want to be assimilated into the "borg" of the local church -- they want to become involved in things that will enable them to grow spiritually and in every area of their lives. (page 23)
- Servanthood. Serving other people is the best way to express one's commitment to Jesus. (page 23)
- Resource Investment. All our resources belong to God, and we need to invest them wisely. (page 24)
- Spiritual Friendships. The Church is all about relationships. (page 24)
- Family Faith. Faith grows in families. (page 24)
4. We are not called to go to church, rather we are called to be the church.
5. Barna writes what may be the most important chapter of the book. Called "Spiritual Transitions in the Making" it focuses on the seven trends that he believes will lead to a "new church" that will facilitate the moral and spiritual revolution of the coming decades. Here are those seven trends.
- The change in leadership from Builders and Boomers, to Busters and Mosaics. Barna believes the latter two groups are changing the ways in which people relate to each other, the types of outcomes deemed desirable, the procedures used to achieve meaningful results, the values and beliefs that underlie critical decisions and the role of technology in daily life. These transitions radically affect how people perceive and practice their faith. (page 42).
- The Rise of Post-Modernism According to Barna post-modernism:
- claims there are no absolute truths
- suggests that good citizenship requires tolerance of all points of view and behavioural preferences
- proclaims that relationships are the most important element of life
- claims that the processes you engage in are more significant that the product of those procedures
- states that the most apporpriate route to influence is through dialogue, not monologue or the imposition of one's beliefs or approaches on others.
- Dismissing the Irrelevant Busters and Mosaics quickly abandon anything they deem as irrelevant to their personal passions. They demand things that foster shared experience and that these experiences be "real, adventurous and memorable." They have little patience for anything based on tradition, customs, ease or social acceptability. In a culture where there are no moral absolutes, exercising choice without any limits is a cherished right. (page 44)
- The Impact of Technology Technology reshapes the marketplace, and reorients the community into new forms and relationships. There is an expectation that ministry resources can be found that respond directly to felt and real needs. Finally, there is a heightened awareness of global faith conditions and opportunities, and the desire to be part of the worldwide Church. (page 45)
- Genuine Relationships Busters and Mosaics pursue meaningful relationships rather than making passing acquaintances. They are much more likely to invest themselves in the messiness of other people's lives, and the devote a large part of each day in building relational bonds. As a result, there is a greater focus on personal authenticity than in performance. Personal stories are emphasized in teaching rather than principles and commands. Team leadership and ministry is appreciated. Finally, organizations that demonstrate inclusiveness are preferred over those perceived to be narrow or judgmental. (page 46)
- Participation in Reality People expect to be active and creative participants in the developing the reality of their experience. Evangelism moves from being event driven at a local church to relational in every-day life. Short-term missions is exploding. Funding for missions and ministry comes as a result of personal involvement.
- Finding True Meaning A growing number of people consider sacrifice and surrender as the possible missing link to their maturity and fulfillment.
- Christians and churches may not like these trends, but you still have to deal with them.
- The more you can anticipate some of the results of these trends, the greater will be your ability to shape the world in ways that are likely to honor God.