The Life of JaWS

A blog by Jason Sansbury

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Catalyst Session: George Barna

Catalyst Session: George Barna

So I am still processing and blogging about the Catalyst Conference, which was a while ago now I guess.

So in my reading of blogs, it was interesting reading other people’s reactions to George Barna’s session in particular. Right now, I am guessing I probably read as many if not more church-planter blogs than anyone. Really I am doing it for preparation to what comes next and as a reminder to myself that folks like that (pioneers) are out there. And Barna evidently stepped all over their toes to some degree. Several of them were really unhappy with what Barna said, which I found to be immensely interesting.

The essential thing is this- Barna did some research and wrote a phenomenal book called Revolution. And that work really, really challenges people to look at the reality that people are dealing with their faith in a much less instituationalize format. And whereas a denominational leader would push the panic button and start down the road of trying to prop up the institutional church, Barna seems to say “Roll with it.” And to people who are dreaming of planting the next megachurch, that is bad news.

So here are some of the interesting things that Barna talked about.

  1. Transformation most often happens in the lives of children.

As I get older and as I have had opportunities to shepherd students in leaders in three very different churches now, I have come to believe that this is absolutely true. The students that I have seen grow the farthest and deepest in their faith are students that I inherited who were already well on the road to becoming disciples. That isn’t always the case but as a generality, it is true. The application part of that process would seem to me that churches invest more in the lives of kids and grow them up. And with the growing trend of teenagers becoming “mini-adults,” complete with overcrowded and overcommitted schedules, this may be the best time to reach them,

  1. God doesn’t give a rip about our methodology; He cares about our hearts.

Here Barna began to really break down some key stats that I think are really intriguing.

He talks about how the American church if it continues on this path will lost ½ its “market share” by 2025/ He spoke passionately about how some of the things that are going to go the church- alternative forms, services, house churches. Things a lot of people would lump into the emerging context of church. For Barna, this is an amazing sign of latent spiritual energy being released in new ways.

I tend to agree. The last church I left had a difficult time with my leaving. I was asked to resign and at one point, about 50 people came to me and asked if I would help them start a new church. And I was and still am absolutely convinced that 50 people meeting in someone’s basement could make more of an impact than the institutional church that we were investing in. Because the passion is there and the hurdles aren’t.

I loved this statement: God never called us to go to church; He called us to be the church. (Put that on the head ushers head count sheet at your church…)

  1. So if all of this is true, then we are called to evaluate things in a different way. “Working well” needs a new definition.

Amen and amen. Too many ministries I have been involved in settle and set the standard of success at “Enough Sunday School teachers showed up today” or “No one got hurt on the event” or “Everyone had a good time.” None of those things are bad things. But they aren’t the goal. Life change is the goal for the local church. Transformation in your congregation and through your congregation into the world is the goal. NEVER lower that bar. Because once you do, you have begun a slow, never ending spiral into mediocrity and maintenance ministry.

  1. 7 passions for revolutionaries.

A worshipping individual

Evangelism through relationships

Discipleship- enjoying time with God

Serving other people- blessed to be a blessing

Resources- how is your time, money and energy used

Building and sustaining community

Family being central to the church experience

Other thoughts he shared:

Don’t become a leader to be popular. Leadership is about change!

The people he classifies as revolutionaries are more committed to Christ than the average church goer.

  1. How this ought to affect ministry:

Focus on transformation and what that means.

Don’t build buildings and hire people/

Bigness isn’t as important as spiritual depth and community depth.

The challenge is how do we use the tools (internet, media, etc.) to keep the focus on God.

In retrospect, I dug this session because Barna resonated back some thing I have thought and felt for sometime. It may be bad news for my long term career, as in being paid to be a minister, but it may be exactly what the church needs!


At 9:40 PM , Blogger clave said...

I was thinking about reading Revolution. Looks like I can just steal from your little cheat sheet here!


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