from my notebook

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Archive for the category “george barna”

Charismatic Growth

Interesting survey findings from The Barna Group.

Charismatic churches are increasing in popularity across denominational lines.

  • one-third of all U.S. Catholics (36 percent) fit the charismatic classification
  • nearly one-quarter of all charismatics in the U.S. (22 percent) are Catholics
  • seven percent of Southern Baptist churches and six percent of mainline churches are charismatic
  • one out of every four Protestant churches in the United States (23 percent) is a charismatic congregation
  • half of evangelical adults (49%) fit the charismatic definition
  • a slight majority of all born again Christians (51%) is charismatic
  • four out of every ten non-denominational churches are charismatic
  • only 16% of the country’s white Protestant congregations are Pentecostal, compared to 65% of the Protestant churches dominated by African-Americans
  • the charismatic orientation is most popular among the non-white population – which is, of course, the sector of the population that is growing most rapidly

“It is not surprising that the Pentecostal community in America has been growing,” George Barna explained. “The freedom of emotional and spiritual expression typical of charismatic assemblies parallels the cultural trend toward personal expression, accepting diverse emotions and allowing people to interpret their experiences in ways that make sense to them,”

Survey Footnotes:

Charismatic Christians are defined in the study as those that say they have been “filled with the Holy Spirit” and believe in “charismatic gifts, such as tongues and healing, are still valid and active today.” The report is based upon a nationwide telephone survey conducted in December 2007 among a random sample of 1005 adults, age 18 and older.

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Revolutionary Quote

“Whenever you challenge hallowed behaviors, controversy is the natural result. Every believer must decide whether it is more important to follow biblical guidelines and examples or to instead maintain human traditions and preferences.” – George Barna

Barna Studies Teens

A new study by the Barna Group reports that 45% of American teens age 13-18 say the most important part of going to church is worship or making a connection with God. The study also revealed only half as much interest in pray and Bible study. I see this as a strong indicator of the God-shaped hole.

All of us, young and old, are missing something without that relationship with God. And that relationship is typically born, or at least strengthened, by the emotional experience of worship. Many church-goers don’t like references to emotional experience, but love is emotional, and if you don’t feel emotional when you connect with God I would question whether a connection is really being made. That emotion deepens the relationship and brings with it an increased desire to know the object of the love/emotion more. Prayer, Bible study, and obedience will follow out of desire and love, not obligation.

Revolutionary Quote

“The mere presence of Revolutiionaries makes the typical American citizen – yes, even the typical churchgoer – uncomfortable.” – George Barna, Revolution

“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” – Jews of Thessalonica, Acts 17:6

Fruit Doesn’t Lie

The Barna Group has released stats from a two-year study on “no-faith adults” (atheists and agnostics) and “active-faith adults” with some interesting findings. While there are, of course, differences between the groups, the study also revealed several commonalities.

David Kinnaman, president of The Barna Group, stated, “Ironically, however, both atheists and committed Christians share one unusual area of common ground: concern about superficial, inert forms of Christianity in America. There are nearly 130 million American adults who describe themselves as Christians, but who are Christian in name only; their behavior includes little related to experiencing and expressing their alleged faith in Christ.”

This reminds me of something Jesus said. “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matt 7:16)

Top Seven Influences of Society

Recent studies by The Barna Group reveal that the church has very little influence on people’s lives in today’s culture. The top seven influencers are: movies, television, music, family, books, law, and the Internet. The good news is, most all of these can be very useful tools for the church to reach people and influence society.

A Responsible Revolution

While changes occur continually, the change currently taking place in the Christian church community is one of a greater magnitude. One that could completely change the face of the local church as we know it today; thus the push back from those who don’t understand. George Barna states in his book Revolution, “Energetic resistance by the established church has accompanied every significant episode of growth in the Kingdom since the time of Christ.”

The success of the revolution (and by success, i mean making effective changes that lead more people into committed Christian lifestyles) depends largely on our reaction to the push back. Our godly behavior in all aspects of life is vital.

Many churches are searching for the balance between the extremes of the traditional and the emergent. As we incorporate advancing technology and other unique approaches to ministry in our church services, we must also be careful not to commercialize the church. Many churches that have taken on a more postmodern, emergent look have become mega churches. It is easy to get caught up in the bigness, the “success”, the media attention from Christian as well as secular sources. Paul speaks of “peddling the Word” in 2 Corinthians 2:17.

Peddlers sell things cheap. In the case of the church, peddling refers to cheap grace, as I like to call it. In other words, we put on a show for entertainment purposes and then water down the Word to make it acceptable to more people. Now I’m not accusing any mega churches of doing this, but inevitably some do, and the temptation is definitely there.

This revolution must be a responsible one – sincere to the Word of God, producing mature, committed followers of Christ. Who can legitimately argue against a movement like that?

The Times, They Are a’Changing

About the revolution, George Barna states – “New scenarios do not mean mayhem and dissipation. In this case they represent a new day in which the Church can truly be the Church – different from what we know today, but more responsive to and reflective of God.”

Change is inevitable, and change usually presents itself when the status quo becomes ineffective. The way we do church now may have been effective several decades ago (I’m speaking in general terms here), but those generations have come and are gradually going away. We must not let our traditions become our church or our god, as the case may be. This puts our focus in the wrong place and hinders any significant presence of the Holy Spirit.

People, from the beginning of time, have sought for something real and powerful to give life meaning and purpose. The church is just another “club” without that significant presence; there is nothing real or powerful to offer others.

While there is nothing wrong with traditional church practices in and of themselves. It is that committment to the traditional that causes the problem. (Of course, a commitment to being non-traditonal can be just as bad.) The Apostle Paul changed his approach to presenting the gospel from town to town whenever needed. Had some of our traditionalists been around when he addressed the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17), “Blasphemy!” would have probably been shouted a few times. The same attitude stoned him and ran him out of other towns; ironically, the same attitude Paul had before his conversion. Paul knew he had to approach different cultures with varying methods. Likewise, different generations, coupled with the effect technology has on our culture, require an ever-changing approach.

Revolutionary Findings

From George Barna’s “Revolution”

  1. Revolutionaries’ distancing themselves from formal congregations does not reflect a willingness to ignore God as much as a passion to deepen their connection to Him.
  2. Compared to the “average” Christian I encounter in our national surveys, I estimate that the “average” Revolutionary is substantially more Spirit-led, faith-focused, scripturally literate, and biblically obedient than their more traditional counterparts who are embedded within a congregation.
  3. We find a measurably greater degree of lukewarm faith among the believers in the pews.
  4. Our research shows that local churches have virtually no influence in our culture.

The Revolution – Another Great Awakening?

George Barna explains it this way:

“The Great Awakening swept the nation from the 1730s through the 1760s…1820s and 1830s. The ultimate product wast the first-time spiritual conversion of sinners. The Great Awakenings were spiritual revivals in the truest sense. The new Revolution differs in that its primary impetus is not salvation among the unrepentant but the personal renewal and recommitment of believers. The dominant catalyst is people’s desperation for a genuine relationship with God. The renewal of that relationship spurs believers to participate in spreading the gospel. This is the Church being restored so the Holy Spirit can work effectively through the body of Christ.”

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