Revolution [Book Review]

George Barna published the book Revolution in 2005 with three tasks in mind: describe a trend, give permission, and exhort the establishment.

Citing survey data and interviews, Barna predicts that in the coming years, Christians in America will move beyond the institutional church toward alternate expressions of faith. Some examples of these alternate faith expressions: homeschooling, simple or house church groups, biblical worldview groups, marketplace ministries, spiritual discipline networks, and Christian creative arts guilds. In fact, Barna believes that by 2025, only one third of Christians in America will be traditional church attenders.

Barna labels the remaining believers revolutionaries, and he spends a fair amount of time validating and encouraging their desire to pursue God authentically, whether it be in an institutional church or outside of one. Barna pieces together a number of sermon-style anecdotes, bullet points, and scripture references to drive home the point that Jesus does not prescribe specific religious exercises, he calls us to make disciples and be unified with other believers.

George Barna is under no illusion that his revolutionary pill will be easy for mainstream Christians to swallow. He mixes encouragement for the revolutionaries with exhortation for mainstream Christians, prodding them to take the trend seriously and make peace with non-mainstream believers. Barna even describes dueling conversations with pastors, one who “gets it,” the other launching a full-scale treatise against the trend.

Readers feeling a tug to take ownership of their faith at the expense of their religious obligation will feel relieved by Barna’s ideas in Revolution. While he doesn’t lay out any specific steps for how to be a Christian outside of the mainstream church, or even trouble spots to watch out for, Barna does follow the concluding chapter with an extensive list of resources, both print and digital for being a revolutionary disciple.

Readers already on the revolutionary track will find much in this book that resonates, but not a lot of new meat to chew on. It’s nice to get validation in numbers and anecdotes, but if Barna’s description of a revolutionary seems to describe you, then human validation probably isn’t high on your list of needs. I’ve found the book to be a cool conversation-starter with other Christians.

You can read more about Revolution here.