Thursday, August 03, 2006

Are you a Revolutionary?

Best latest book I've gotten around to reading, last year's "Revolution" by religious researcher George Barna (a quick but very very important read).

1. Primary means of American spiritual experience and expression:
Year 2000...70% local church; 5% alternative faith-based community; 5% family; 20% media, arts, culture
Year 2025....30-35% local church; 30-35% alternative faith-based community; 5% family; 30-35% media, arts, culture.

2. Seven Trends shaping the spiritual landscape moving us toward this picture of 2025
1. changing of the guard from builders and boomers to busters and mosaics.
2. rise of a new view of life: postmodern emphases.
3. dismissing the irrelevant. boomers focused on excellence, busters and mosaics on relevance and authenticity.
4. impact of technology
5. leadership based on relationships.
6. Participation in Reality. hands-on theology.
7. Finding True Meaning through sacrifice and surrender

3. Seven Passions of Revolutionaries
1. Intimate Worship, every day, personal and with others
2. Faith based conversations.
3. Intentional spiritual growth
4. servanthood
5. resource investment (see number 7 above; revolutionaries shape lives of time, talent, and treasure around God, not focus on getting slowly up to tithing what is left over)
6. Spiritual Friendships. Focus on accountability partners
7. Family Faith. Making home the center of Church

4. Movement is from small c church as in local church to large C Church as in Church Universal or God's Kingdom, the larger and more important focus of being a disciple. (will post more on the challenge and opportunities for those with strong congregational basis and polity).

5. Spectrum of Revolutionaries
Some will remain working in and with churches; others will be in and out of churches; others, increasingly, will find ways to be with other disciples in the Church but not in the church.

This is a starter.
If you are visiting this blog from connection to me through the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship, think of us and particularly our small groups as being alternative faith-based communities, and you will see much promise in what the future might hold for us if we commit to us, and where reaction and feedback might be coming from. More on this later, either here or elsewhere.

This book is another, like Neil Cole's Organic Church, which is a good glimpse into going beyond what is often thought of,sometimes narrowly and erroneously, as the Emergent Church. I think it is a part of it, but continuing its revolution.

5 comments:

Ron said...

My main critique of Barna's points is also the main reason why progressive/Christians need to take him and others like Neil Cole seriously and learn from them.

Barna opens his book with a church happening on the golf course between two 30something men; both became dechurched, but one became more committed than before to becoming a disciple and the other was spinning more into the "secular" discipleship. the point is that disciple making was taking place more on the golf green than inside the place labeled church. Hence his Church vs. church (vs. is too strong; he really does maintain the spectrum that is needed and how churches can support Revolutionaries too).

So, critique #1: the pull within the organic church movement to connect with others of our own ilk, like his two men on the golf course. There is an inevitability to this, and it isn't all terrible of course, but progressives would point out it isn't all that Jesus-like either. As we get more micro, we can lose some of that wonderful 50s era church as common village thing that probably never existed in reality as much as in aim, but certainly moreso than today, where the only diversity that the emergent/organic literature seems to really talk about (other than some McLaren) is between Jesus disciples and those who aren't. Difference of politics, demographics, culture, age? Not much depicted here. So much is like Barna's Michael and David. In all the Revolutionary talk about being a disciple of Jesus, the progressive wants to get up in David and Michael's face, e.g. and say where is your critique of where you are; are you working to transform the golf course into one respecting God's environment, are you transforming this new place of holy meeting?

Critique #2 follows suit. When Barna and others talk about the necessity for Revolutionaries to have a biblical worldview and then depict that biblical worldview in terms that I don't think Jesus would recognize, or Paul, in such narrow, judgmental, and so limited a vision of the biblical worldview, well here is where I think being a progressive Christian, or even a biblical moderate even, has much to offer the world. We are giving over the Church as well as the churches to those who misread the Bible and Christian tradition, which is why we need to learn from them but apply it and amplify it from the progressive tradition. The battle over the biblical worldview used to be carried out by travelling preachers, lecturers, by pamphlet wars, and the airwaves some---now it has to be done on the basis of beginning communities. Truly we echo the first century and the competition of the "feast gatherings."

Roger Kuhrt, PhD said...

Ron: I really appreciated your essential summary of Barna's book! As a matter of fact I "ripped off" a piece of it to include in my "report" to First Congregational here in Tacoma for encouraging them to generate programs relating to: alt. spirituality groups and events related to arts, culture, etc.

Cheerfully, Rk

Ron said...

Thanks Roger. Good luck and keep us posted. This movement from "local church" to "alternative faith-based communities" that Barna addresses in his trends and predictions is why many/some new church plants don't start as "churches." They begin as art gallery, bookstore, coffeeshop, internet cafe, resource center, etc. as primary identity and the "church relationship" is an invitation to others that grows out of the service component. Kinda reminds me of Jesus getting the water for the Samaritan woman at the well first, and then moving from that service/act to the spiritual truth of her life. She was a lot more receptive to what he had to say and who he was after he acted moreso than if he had begun with the spoken truth part. We are all Samaritan women I think. Here at The Living Room I am gradually, belatedly, backing off the former approach and re-inventing us as the newer kind of church plant. It is a slower, less splashy way for sure but another reason to keep a 300-year perspective.

Ron said...

this may come in the category of duh, but I noticed I haven't put in the link to Barna's website. Go to www.barna.org. He is one of the leaders in picking up on the distinctions between the mainstreaming of emergent church and what he terms the revolutionary Church, or what I guess could be called, tongue in cheek, as post/post-modern or post-emerging.
While I was leading the workshop on emergent church at the district church camp last month, an article came out in The Daily Oklahoman about a mainstream church, The First Christian Church of Oklahoma City, adding an "emergent" worship sevice. I have to say, just from reading the article, it struck me as boomers trying to hang onto their youth, or feeling as if they had to hold on to the newest and latest, which of course, as a boomer, is our birthright, right? Lol.
Of course, sad to say, that FCC was at least moving into the 1990s with the new alternative service focus; most aren't even there yet.

From the Daily Oklahoman Story:
"The Way"
What: An emergent worship service.

Where: First Christian Church of Oklahoma City, 3700 N Walker.

When: 6 to 7 p.m. Saturdays.

Information: 525-6551.

Carla Hinton
Religion Editor

A metro area ministry is blending old and new traditions to offer a weekend worship service with emergent church influences.
First Christian Church of Oklahoma City's new service is called "The Way." It is offered at 6 p.m. Saturdays at the church often noted for the egg-shaped dome atop its building at 3700 N Walker.

The Rev. Kevin Adams, the church's senior pastor, said the ministry wanted to offer something different from its traditional Sunday morning worship service.

He said ministry leaders did not want to have a contemporary praise and worship service because many already are offered in the metro area. They did want to offer something for people who cannot attend worship services on Sundays.

He said "The Way," in keeping with the emergent church movement, incorporates aspects of worship such as Celtic chanting and other segments that invite participation among those who attend.


"It's an appreciation for some of the ancient ways, even rituals," Adams said.

According to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, the emergent church movement is generally embraced by congregations willing to challenge traditional church structures and organizations.

"Emergents seek real and authentic experiences over scripted or superficial experiences," Wikipedia states, plus "emergent churches offer highly creative approaches to worship and spiritual reflection involving everything from the use of contemporary music and films to liturgy, as well as more ancient customs."

Adams said "The Way" is held in the church's Replogle Chapel, which holds about 150 people and lends itself to the more intimate setting envisioned by church leaders.

"The ambiance is more intimate and it also gives a catacomb feel, which is what we want rather than bright light," he said.

"The Way" is informal compared to the church's Sunday service. For instance, Adams wears a robe over a suit Sunday mornings, but on a recent Saturday evening he wore a short-sleeve shirt and slacks to "The Way."

Adams said he delivers a short message or homily during Saturday services, not a sermon as he does on Sundays.

Music is kept simple at "The Way." This could mean participants will listen to a prerecorded flute selection or chants, Adams said.

He said a planned time of silence is often incorporated into the service, something one might not find in a traditional service.

An aspect of the service that is new to First Christian members is the healing portion that comes toward the end of the service.

"It's a time when we pray for the healing of others and it's also a time when a person can come forward and share a concern."

Those who step forward for prayer are anointed with oil, Adams said.

Church member Sue White said she and her husband Kenneth attend Sunday's more traditional service, but also attend "The Way," which they find inspiring and peaceful.

"After a hurried week, it is nice to go to a service and rest, relax and enjoy the different types of music plus some chanting," she said.

"I feel the presence of the Lord there. I hope it will do very well."

Adams shares that hope.

Though it began in May, he said "The Way" is still new.

"We're still tweaking it."

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