George Barna is one of today's most influential Christian leaders. His book "Revolution" is a report of over twenty years of data collection and analysis on the status of Christian churches and followers of Jesus Christ. The book unveils what Barna describes as a "paradigm shift in the way a person views and interacts with his or her world." The treatment is uplifting in its characterization of the "Revolutionary" although it is sure to precipitate anger on the part of many clergy within the walls of the "local church."
The book begins with David and Michael, two fictional characters having a conversation during a round of golf. The duo grew disenchanted with their churches and left, meeting in what they call "Church on the Green." Barna's fictional characters portray "born-again believers" who have left the local church for other pursuits that satisfy what is missing in the Sunday worship experience. David, the "Revolutionary," leads a life that "reflects the very ideals and principles that characterized the life and purpose of Jesus Christ." Whereas Michael represents a category popularly called "backsliding Christians" - "believers who (are) losing touch with God, the Bible, the community of faith, and (their) spiritual responsibilities." Both have left traditional church for different reasons. However, both represent the problem faced by the Post Modern American church, a dwindling population of disappointed people who are spiritually unfulfilled and tired of feeling like they are wasting their time.
Barna continues, in this easily readable pocket-sized 144 page book, to highlight some of the statistics which support his conclusions about this exodus from the "local church." He claims that his research has uncovered a "growing sub-nation of people already over 20 million strong," who he calls "Revolutionaries." "They have no use for churches that play religious games," such as "worship services without the presence of God or ministry programs that bear no spiritual fruit." He continues, describing the seven attributes (passions) of a Revolutionary revealed through his statistical study of this phenomenon. The treatment is both enlightening and, at times, disturbing. The observations and conclusions draw a line in the sand between practicing Christians and organized religion. The book's comparison of the church today against a biblical worldview provides a clear explanation of why the "spiritually authentic" Revolutionaries have steadily left the pews of the "local church" and disenchanted believers (like Michael) are leaving religion to pursue their own meaning in life without church.
"Revolution" takes the reader through statistical data, a brief description of the characteristics of a biblical world view, a detailed description of the seven passions of a Revolutionary, a short discussion of some emerging church trends spawned by the Revolutionaries, and concludes with a challenge to organized Christian churches to understand what God says about his people and how he wants them to live. "The Revolution is not your enemy," espouses Barna. "Your enemies are spiritual complacency that renders people vulnerable to negative influences and the brittle wineskins that can no longer contain this extraordinary move of God in the hearts of His people." If you are a pastor or a layman and you notice the pew population dwindling, it may be time to read "Revolution," and discover why.
I have the book and have read about half of it. While I don't exactly fit his descriptions of this revolutionary generation, I can say that I am one of those folks that have seen through the frailties of systematic "church" and am learning to live AS the Church. There are other authors and leaders, if you will, that have information about this.