Revolution—Time to Throw in the Towel

After reading George Barna’s recent book, Revolution, I have come to the conclusion that I have but two choices.  I can either sit back and watch our local church disintegrate due to the will of our Heavenly Father and the moving of our contemporary culture or I can get on board, become a “revolutionary” and join this exciting, rag-tag team of modern day reformers.  Why not?  I am young.  I desire to be relevant, hip and in-the-now.  If God is finished using the local church to see his message advanced throughout the world, what kind of an old-fashioned, out of touch, over-the-hill fool would I be to cling to this outdated institution.  I am truly inspired by the youthful and groovy way in which George encourages me and others to give up and leave the institution of the local church.  It really is nice to see what the younger generation believes is coming for the future of the church.

I am sorry for the sarcasm, but it is difficult for me to take this man seriously when it is obvious he has been speaking to the wrong churches.  He is giving statistics of churches that have failed or are failing.  Who among us does not know that the mainline denominational churches are dwindling in record numbers?  Who is surprised to find out that the seeker-sensitive, come-as-you-are-leave-as-you-came, I’m OK you’re OK, contemporary churches have not produced spiritually healthy Christians?  Obviously George Barna is surprised.  He believes and purports in his work that little if any true spiritual transformation is occurring in the modern local church.  His answer to this problem is not revival, remorse and turning away from sin.  No, no, no – but to embrace this change and allow the local church to be discarded as the ancient piece of history that she is.  I for one, will not.  Why?  Because it is the church that Jesus Christ loves, it is the church for which he is coming again, it is the church that he gave his very life’s blood to purchase and cleanse.  No my friend the local church is much too valuable to be trashed in such a way!

Perhaps the problem is not with the local church as God has designed, perhaps it is with the contemporary idea of church that was promoted and advanced in the past decades by men such as George Barna.

In one of the most ironic moments of the book George Barna quotes Frederick Nietzsche and says that it would be horrible to be known as the man who proclaimed that God is dead!  What kind of legacy would that be, Barna proclaims.  Yet Barna’s legacy will most likely be the man who claimed that the local church is dead.  Just as God continued to work his plan throughout the life and death of Frederick Nietzsche, God’s plan for the local church will continue throughout Barna’s life and death.

Again, I can see how the main declaration of this book, the local church is dead, could be easily swallowed by an older minister who has toiled away his life sitting behind the desk of a denominational church that had the word ichabod written over the doorway long ago where he has never experienced the power of God and barely believes the promises of God himself.  I can see how the young pastor of the contemporary movement who desires for his church members to grow beyond their materialistic, narcissistic, carnal ways but has nothing to offer his congregation except another rock-concert or comedy show on Sunday morning could buy into the fact that church does not change people.  However, what these churches need is not an out-of touch, pessimistic author telling them to throw in the towel, what they need is revival and returning to Biblical principles. 

In my experience the local church is not out-dated and on the precipice of extinction but it is thriving.  People are being saved, Christians are becoming devoted disciples and young men and women are being called into full-time Christian work.  Every young pastor-friend I can think of is seeing the great hand of God upon their ministries, church-plants and mission fields.  After reading this book I was never more thankful that I am in the Independent, Baptist Church movement, for we are seeing not only growing churches but growing believers.  What a joy it is to know that the Bible is right, and Barna is wrong.

 

November 25, 2009

Joshua Teis

Senior Pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church

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