Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bold initiative for life transformation

Thanks to Steve K. at knightopia for alerting TS to the changes at George Barna's organization. For twenty years Barna has been a sort of polling arm for the church in the United States, doing research on all aspects of the Christian walk. This week Barna announced that his organization is changing its emphasis from strictly research to a wider range of services "to work with ministries to facilitate genuine life transformation." This is a significant change. Here's a portion of what Barna himself has to say on why it's happening:
. . . our research has shown that most of the influence on what people think and do comes from just seven sources: movies, television, music, family, books, law, and the Internet. That same body of research shows that the local church has virtually no discernible influence on people’s lives. Consequently, we are striving to understand, influence and operate within the spheres of greatest influence to help facilitate genuine spiritual transformation in people’s lives.
In addition to research intended to help the church implement life transformation, The Barna Group will now be offering "implementation functions," too. These new functions include book publishing, film production, training of youth for church leadership, and establishing the "Transformational Church Network."

It's an ambitious iniative based on a very bold premise: that The Barna Group can effect changes the local church cannot. The thought that the church isn't making a difference in Christians' lives is a discouraging concept (and, I believe, a false one). That said, I pray that in their new role Barna and company will be instruments of God for helping transform the church more and more into the image of Jesus Christ.

6 Comments:

Blogger Peter Bogert said...

Good insight, Milton. There are scads of ministries who try to improve on the local church with programs and gizmos to do what God typically does in slow-but-deliberate fashion through a local community of committed believers.

I struggle sometimes with the realization that some of our people are "shephereded" and influenced more by those who have the bucks to purchase airtime than they are those of us working in the trenches. Oh well, nothing to do but be faithful! (grin)

6:58 AM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Peter. And let's keep praying for stronger churches. Peace.

9:11 AM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger CharlyG said...

I've always had a bit of a problem with Barna. He seems to be catering to the seeker-sensitive types, and most of the emphasis is on numbers. Just because you fill the pews every Sunday does not give credence to your methods, or your doctrine. In fact, I would argue that is a danger sign. The Word of God is offensive and is meant to cause you to repent, not feel comfortable. The worship service should be mostly verical in nature and when you look at most of the "big" churches, it's all about entertainment and keeping the crowd wanting more. I doubt if that is God's plan.... I tend to think the 200-300 member congregations are more apt to serve "meat".

11:33 AM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

I'm uncomfortable with the underlying premise of Barna's announcement: that the local church is not a vehicle for life transformation but his organization will be. On the other hand, he does at least imply in his announcement that spiritual growth is hard to measure. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Charly.

12:59 PM, April 06, 2005  
Anonymous Zane Anderson said...

Due to the abiding presence of sin, churches do fail to live up to the Master's desire. Nevertheless, to maintain that the church has NO discernable influence is quite an overstatement. Barna of all people should realize that the church does indeed have an influence.

Even the youngest children can learn to sit still which is a valuable life-skill.

House Church Network

11:57 AM, September 01, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for you comments, Zane. Sorry to take two years to reply. I'm keeping track of my comments better now, and if you're still reading I'll reply more expeditiously next time.

6:39 PM, May 10, 2007  

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