Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rapid Increase in Alternative Forms of The Church Are Changing the Religious Landscape

Rapid Increase in Alternative Forms of The Church Are Changing the Religious Landscape
October 24, 2005

(Ventura, CA) – For a rapidly growing number of Americans, a local church is no longer the place to go as their primary religious meeting place. A new study by The Barna Group shows that new forms of religious experience and expression are growing in popularity, drawing millions of people closer to God but farther from involvement in a congregational church. New ways of experiencing and expressing faith, such as through house churches, marketplace ministries, and cyberchurches, are becoming the norm for millions of people.

The Growth of New Models

For most of the past century, the local congregational church was the go-to place for people interested in experiencing God and being part of a community of faith. The United States has more than 300,000 Protestant congregations and some 20,000 Catholic parishes that have been the primary gathering place for Americans. During the past decades, about two-thirds of the nation’s adults have been attached to one of those congregations, with roughly 40% of adults showing up for religious services and programs in any given week.

The new research shows that more than fifty million adults now practice their faith through a variety of divergent faith models.

A new book by George Barna, entitled Revolution, indicates that since the turn of the millennium there have been major changes occurring in how people experience and express their faith. Based on a regular series of national surveys conducted by his company during the past quarter century, Barna discovered that discontent with congregational churches, changes in lifestyles, and a burgeoning desire to get closer to God, have caused many people to seek new ways of being in relationship with God and other God-seeking people.

In 2000, most of the nation’s organized religious activity took place at or through local churches. Today, Barna’s research points out, the action is shifting to newer forms of corporate religious commitment. In a typical week, 9% of all adults participate in a house church. An even greater proportion – 22% - engages in spiritual encounters that take place in the marketplace (e.g., with groups of people while they are at their place of work or play, or in other typical daily contexts). The Internet serves as the foundation for interactive faith experiences for more than one out of every ten adults, although most of them currently use it in tandem with another form of corporate religious experience.

Juggling Multiple Faith Contexts

The survey data suggest that millions of Americans keep a foot in several doors for an extended period of time. “It is not uncommon to find people who attend an alternative church gathering regularly but maintain some loose connection with a congregational church,” Barna explained. “Often, that connection is retained to satisfy the needs or expectations of a family member. Sometimes it is a reflection of interest in a special event held by the congregation, or the desire to stay connected to some of the people who make the congregational church their primary spiritual home. In their minds, though, and certainly in terms of where they invest their mind, heart and resources, it is the alternative church that emerges as their dominant form of church.”

The research also confirmed that a substantial portion of those who turn to alternative forms of church participate in two or more of those alternative forms. Barna indicated that it has only been in the past two or three years that there has been significant growth in these less prolific church models.

The Profile of Alternative Churchgoers

The findings from several Barna Group surveys conducted during the past twelve months reveal the characteristics of this emerging population of people who want more of God in their life and have had to leave a congregational form of the local church to satisfy that need. Terming these individuals “Revolutionaries” who are intent upon “being the Church rather than merely going to church,” the California-based researcher stated that the magnitude of this movement into new forms of religious community will reshape the religious world within the next two decades.

Some of the more intriguing attributes of these Revolutionaries who seek to experience and express their faith in alternative ways are:

Although the youngest two generations (Baby Busters and Mosaics) are widely involved, it is the Baby Boomers, who are largely responsible for megachurches redefining the church environment during the past quarter century, who are the most numerous in this shift.

Adults involved in a marketplace ministry are more than twice as likely as those connected only to a congregational church to have a biblical worldview and more than twice as likely to identify the Bible as the source of truth in life. They are also one-third more likely to contend that absolute moral truth exists.

About two-thirds of all adults engaged in a house church attend in any given week, with the remaining segment attending at least once a month. That is nearly identical to the attendance profile of people for whom a congregational church is their church home.

Men and women are equally likely to participate in marketplace-based ministry activity, while men are slightly more likely to engage in house church options.

The Midwest is the stronghold for congregational church connections, while the southern states have become the most fertile spawning grounds for marketplace ministry involvement, and participation in a house church is equally common everywhere outside of the Midwest.

Evangelical Christians are those most likely to get involved in an alternative form of the Christian church – and also the group most likely to participate in both a traditional and alternative church form. More than four out of ten evangelical adults are involved in an alternative form of church on a regular basis.

While whites dominate the national population, it is people of color who are leading the way in the alternative church world. Blacks, in particular, are drawn to house churches and marketplace gatherings. Compared to white adults, black adults are roughly twice as likely to be active in a house church (12% versus 6%) and are nearly twice as likely to engage in a marketplace-based ministry (36% compared to 19%). Hispanics adults are the ethnic group most likely to meet in a house church (16%). Asians are three times as likely to be involved in a marketplace gathering as a house church during a typical week, and are the least consistent in their participation in a house church.

Downscale adults (i.e., those with below-average levels of education and household income) are almost twice as likely as upscale individuals (i.e., those with above-average levels of education and income) to be active in an alternative form of church.

Many parents are involved in both a congregational and alternative church form – presumably to address the diverse interests of both the adults and children.

One-third of the alternative church crowd engages God and other believers in a church form other than a house church – that is, they are involved in a marketplace ministry, the cyberchurch, or a series of faith-focused events that connect them with God and other Christ-followers.
Barna also pointed out that surveys of people’s religious activity often blur our understanding of church behavior because many people immersed in alternative church experiences are not sure whether to describe themselves to survey interviewers as “attending a church service” or not. “Some of these individuals are so comfortable with their alternative forms of church that they do not hesitate to say they ‘attend church.’ Others, however, have been so conditioned to think of ‘church’ as the activities taking place on the campus of a religious congregation that they are more likely to describe themselves as unchurched, even though they engage in worship, service, prayer, financial sharing, and discipleship activities through their alternative faith community.”

Source of This Material

The data reported in this summary are based upon telephone interviews with a nationwide random sample of 1002 adults conducted in July 2005; another survey of 1008 randomly sampled adults conducted in May of 2005; and 1003 adults randomly sampled by The Barna Group in January 2005. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample in each of these surveys is ±3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All non-institutionalized adults in the 48 contiguous states were eligible to be interviewed and the distribution of respondents in the survey sample corresponds to the geographic dispersion of the U.S. adult population. The data were subjected to slight statistical weighting procedures to calibrate the survey base to national demographic proportions. Households selected for inclusion in the survey sample received multiple callbacks to increase the probability of obtaining a representative distribution of adults.

“Evangelicals” are a subset of born again Christians in Barna surveys. In addition to meeting the born again criteria, in which people say they have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today” and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, evangelicals also meet seven other conditions. Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; contending that they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; stating that Satan exists; maintaining that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; asserting that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; saying that the Bible is totally accurate in all it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Further, respondents were not asked to describe themselves as “evangelical.” Being classified as “evangelical” is not dependent upon any church or denominational affiliation or involvement. Evangelicals represent 7% of the adult population.

The Barna Group, Ltd. (which includes its research division, The Barna Research Group) is a privately held, for-profit corporation that conducts primary research, produces audio, visual and print media, and facilitates the healthy spiritual development of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Located in Ventura, California, Barna has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984. If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each new, bi-weekly update on the latest research findings from The Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna web site (www.barna.org). © The Barna Group, Ltd, 2005.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Prophetic Worship & Apostolic Preaching @ UCLA

Prophetic Worship & Apostolic Preaching @ UCLA

God is asking us to press in at this hour to prayer war for “heaven on earth” to come to our university campuses. Do not relent, press in, the breakthrough is waiting to break out! This is dependent on the level of our spiritual hunger & violence. The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force (Matthew 11).

This past Wednesday at UCLA we experienced a taste of heaven on earth, but it came with a cost. We got out onto campus and sensed the Lord was asking us to go into the middle of campus and lead out in prophetic outdoor worship & outdoor proclamation of the Gospel. As we walked up onto campus there were thousands of students walking up and down Bruin Walk. Normally, we would sit at the patch of grass where there were not many onlookers (free speech area), but on Wednesday the main steps at the top of Bruin Walk were open with no student organization tabling~ we took it by faith.

It was only eight of us (Matt, Caleb, Josh, Alyson, Jumpei, Neil, Sam). As we sat on the steps we began to pray. It was difficult to pray, the enemy immediately began to intimidate us with fear, self-consciousness, and I could tell many on our team were distracted. You could sense the spiritual darkness/forces right there in the middle of campus opposing our prayers, as hundreds of students were standing/tabling and hanging out around the Bruin Walk sidewalk. It was almost like we could hear the Devil say, “Come on, what are you going to do? Worship in the middle of campus? With your little guitars and make a fool out of yourself?” Don’t you know I own this campus?” (Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world 1 John 4)

As we sat there and prayed it became more difficult. Yet, my heart began to break as I saw thousands of students walk pass us with no sense of hope or direction. On the outside these UCLA students all look like they got it together. They go to UCLA, they have the status, the image, the self-confidence, they look cool and they look like they got it together.” Then I hear the spirit of the Lord shout to my spirit, “STOP LOOKING WITH YOUR PHYSICAL EYES, LOOK WITH YOUR SPIRITUAL EYES, THEY ARE ALL LOST, DYING AND HEADED TOWARDS ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM GOD!” I had to remind myself, “The battle is not against flesh and blood the battle is against spiritual powers, principalities and darkness in the air, the God of this age has blinded their eyes so they can not see (Eph 6:10, 2 Corinth 4)!”

In the natural, 7 Asian nobodies with two guitars and a big white guy worshipping at the top of their lungs in the middle of the day in UCLA would seem like the most foolish strategy anyone could devise to advance God’s kingdom on earth. Yet, God chooses to use the foolish things of the earth to confound the wise. We began to worship, not for them, but for Him, with all our hearts. It was extremely difficult. Alyson all of a sudden got sick in the stomach and wanted to throw up. Caleb and Josh both started to feel out of it and were getting negative thoughts. I knew it was the enemies attack, “Guys, focus, pull it together, the enemy wants to make us think this is pointless, we might not look cool singing hallelujah songs, but this isn’t about being relevant or cool, this is a spiritual war, don’t look at the students laughing, don’t look at the physical circumstance, look at God, press in, worship God and He will come! Angels and Demons are here right here, right now, we need to press in and worship till heaven comes down to UCLA!”

Holy Spirit began to help us. We began to sing acappela “I love You Lord and I lift my voice, to worship You, Oh my soul rejoice, take joy my King in what You hear, let it be a sweet, sweet song in Your ear!” Over and over again, we began to not just sing, not just worship, but we began to PROPHETICALLY DECLARE to the spiritual powers and principalities at UCLA~ an authentic and genuine heartfelt cry of love to JESUS! We began to enthrone Jesus over UCLA looking to God, not to man. Onlookers begin to watch, it was like “time stopped” and the presence of God began to descend, it was felt. I knew in my spirit angels had descended, God was with us! We kept shouting it out as hundreds of students walked by and were looking at us with funny looks, some stopping and watching, others turning their heads back. The Holy Spirit, yes, the Holy Spirit comes to convict hearts with righteousness, sin and judgment! (John 16)

Sam from CCM fellowship began to lead us into worship (thank God for Sam if he wasn’t there we wouldn’t have made it) and we worshipped out-loud in the middle of Bruin Walk for 2 hours. We kept pressing in, we were contending for heaven on earth, we were contending for the power of God to be released, if His presence would not go before us, we had no hope. After 2 hours of worship warfare, we began to sense it was time to preach. The spiritual air had been cleared, the heavens were open, blinders were removed and the Bruin Walk area we stood upon was consecrated holy unto the Lord.

Caleb had to go to class so he got up and began to preach to the students walking by. He could only preach for a few minutes and then he said, “I’m passing the baton who’s taking it up next?”” This was my first time on campus at UCLA during school. I’ll tell you the truth I was intimidated, but I knew Holy Spirit was with us. He was anointing us for the task (to PREACH the Gospel & proclaim Good News Isaiah 61)!

Let me tell you something, “No matter how many times you have preached in public to masses of unbelievers you never get use to it, you never feel confident right away, apostolic preaching is not for the faint hearted, it’s not a Sunday sermon, its for those who dare to completely loose their own reputation and be completely and utterly dependent on God!” I wanted to pee in my pants, I looked at the hundreds of students walking up and down where we worshipping and I wanted to run & hide. But then I closed my eyes, I asked God for grace, again He showed me, “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit! Don’t look with your physical eyes, there is more with you than there is with them, open Your mouth and I will fill it with My Words to follow!” Without opening my eyes, I jumped into the middle of Bruin Walk and I began to preach at the top of my lungs….

My voice was almost gone, but as I preached you could sense the unction and anointing of the Holy Spirit and His power. Students walking by began to stop dead in their tracks! 5 here, 12 there, two tour groups stopped at the top of the college above us, an entire Asian fraternity sitting on the steps stopped talking and began to listen, an entire group of African Americans who just moments before had their boom boxes blasting stopped and began to listen, those tabling turned around, within moments there was a crowd of students standing, in wonder and looking, gripped by the Spirit all over Bruin Walk were listening to me preach the Gospel of repentance and love towards God! There had to been at least 120-150 students standing still listening for almost a half hour as I shared my testimony and proclaimed the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! You could ask Josh, Alyson, Matt, the entire Bruin Walk moments before was full of noise, conversations, hustle/bustle but all of sudden the entire Bruin Walk was silent. God supernaturally amplified my broken voice with no microphone! People said they could hear the preaching from the 3rd story of the building above us.

What happened? To tell you the truth I don’t know exactly what happened, but glory be to the name of God! I called them to repentance and to commit in prayer to give their lives to Christ. At least half a dozen hands rose to the air and I asked the crowd to shout out the sinners prayer with me, we could hear students voices all over shouting out the sinners prayer in commitment all over Bruin Walk! It could have only been God!

The presence of God was present, so present that we didn’t even know what to do once done praying the prayer. One student began to question what was preached and started to begin a debate. I could tell it was a distraction of God and God helped us by having a smoking skater sitting on some steps defend me and debate with this Aethiest. Then the Holy Spirit led our team to go 2x2 to begin talking with the students who responded.

One student came from a Hindu background he said, “I’m jealous for what you have!” I want it but I don’t know how to get it!” We began to converse and answer his questions.

Another black student who was extremely angry began to tell us you are “full of sh#$” We listened to him say how Christians could not be trusted, he told us he was a servant of the Devil, Christians had done too much wrong in this world and genocide millions in the name of Christ. My heart began to break as I listened to him, I asked, “Holy Spirit give me wisdom to respond!” I responded to his anger by asking for forgiveness on behalf of myself and all Christians, he responded with, “I have no response for that one” he almost began to cry, his entire countenance changed, we prayed for him and he said I don’t know what it is about you all, but I’m the only one in my family who isn’t a Christian, but if there is one church I’ll go to it’s the one you go to…we gave him the info to Passion Church in Reiber Hall 6th floor. It was the power of Christ forgiveness that He could not resist, we kept talking and he was being transformed right before our eyes.

Next to him was the large Asian fraternity group. They were listening and responding to the preaching the whole time. There was one fraternity brother in particular with a white hat on. I saw him while I was preaching. I knew God’s hand was on him. I walked right up to him and it was like he was waiting for me to speak to him. He shakes my hand and says, “I heard your message, it spoke to me, I almost went to jail too, I’m actually a PK (Pastors Kid) and I’m the president of this fraternity. I feel like God maybe calling me back to serve Him after all these years.” We kept talking, God was moving upon his heart, he wanted to talk more, I asked him if we could get together for coffee and study the Bible, he wanted to eagerly…he is definitely a student of peace.

The stories go on and on. All I can say is to God be the glory! To God be the glory! This is just the beginning friends, soldiers, army of God.We praised God for what He did, we regrouped and ended with a prayer. But, the enemy was not happy. We immediately began to feel uneasiness in our spirits, Alyson got more sick, others were battling negative thoughts, we continued to pray and intercede throughout the rest of the day and night. Some of the giants at UCLA went down that day, but not all. Yes, God established His throne on the Bruin Walk steps on Wednesday, but the battle has just begun. The battle has just begun. We saw only a glimpse of heaven on earth, a glimpse of His light breaking into the darkness, we must press forward saints!


Do you understand what we are up against? Do you think this Christian walk is a joke? This is not a religion! This is not a game! This is not a social institution! This is, yes a spiritual family, but also it is a spiritual war! Jesus said deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. Follow Him to what? Follow Him to the Cross of suffering and complete death to SELF.

Philippians 3:10-12
“I want to know (intimately experience) Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Three things will happen when we pursue God in spiritual violence. When we press in to God and abandon all of self.

1) We will know Him intimately
2) We will operate in the power of His anointing
3) We will inevitably fellowship in His sufferings

Yes, Wednesday at UCLA we encountered the intimate presence of Christ in worship. Yes, we operated and experienced the power of His anointing upon the preached Word resulting in repentance and salvation. Yes, we also experienced the spiritual warfare, demonic attack and the grace to fellowship in the sufferings of Christ Jesus or Lord. Jesus says, “In this world you will have many trials and tribulations, but fear not, I have overcome the world!” Do not relent, we must press in and contend for the perfect will of God to be established upon the earth, upon our campuses, do not relent, do not give up, continue to pray, prophesy, seek His face prophetically worship and apostolically declare to every university campus in this nation REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME!

Monday, October 10, 2005



As you read the awakening findings, statistics and analysis below (George Barna, Revolution) may we begin to pray into and ask God for understanding on how the church in the "Western Context" is to move forward in communicating the Gospel to the next generation. I have been all over the world and just recently in Taiwan. It is interesting to see how many "first world" countries like Taiwan adopt a "western church model" and seem to get "western church results". Many times we western cultured Christians think "bigger is better" and the bigger, nicer and more efficient our church is then we are somehow doing the will of God. As humans we tend to worship unconciously what we can touch and see, thus, the bigger and more spectacular it is the more we are attracted to it, but this seems opposite to what is explained as the "kingdom of God" (the last shall be first and the first shall be last). I pray that we do not simply follow hype, but rather we each follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. The church in Taiwan has declined from 3% to 2.7% as I talked with church leaders there. Could it be we are seeing a similar shift worldwide for those nations who embrace a traditional western church model that we are losing Christ-followers instead of gaining them? Everywhere I go without bringing up the topic young leaders express to me their frustration with the western church model, whether its traditional-church, mega-church, or a contemporary postmodern church, somehow it is not connecting with them at the heart level. This makes me think more and more how do we go back to the heart of the New Testament Apostles and once again live out a apostolic life, faith and mission? Again, I'm a proponent and supporter of God's Church, wherever, however and whomever. I speak at, support and love the western church believers wherever I go, but there is something happening in this structure and its people that the Holy Spirit is bringing to attention and we must have ears to hear and eyes to see. (The below is a continued conversation and article on George Barna's new book/findings "Revolution" let the 3rd Great Awakening begin to rumble!)



IN THIS EDITION: An article by American researcher Geoge Barna that gives insight in a major shift in the church landscape that is currently taking place in North America and Europe. Comments are welcome and can be sent to info@joelnews.org.


TREND: A faith revolution is redefining 'church'

For decades the primary way that Americans have experienced and expressed their faith has been through a local church. That reality is rapidly changing, according to researcher George Barna, whose new book on the transitioning nature of America's spirituality, entitled 'Revolution', describes what he believes will be the most massive reshaping of the nation's faith community in more than a century.

Relying upon national research conducted over the past several years, Barna profiles a group of more than 20 million adults throughout the nation labeled 'revolutionaries'. He noted that although measures of traditional church participation in activities such as worship attendance, Sunday school, prayer, and Bible reading have remained relatively unchanged during the past twenty years, the Revolutionary faith movement is growing rapidly.

"These are people who are less interested in attending church than in being the church," he explained. "We found that there is a significant distinction in the minds of many people between the local church - with a small 'c' - and the universal Church - with a capital 'C'. Revolutionaries tend to be more focused on being the Church, capital C, whether they participate in a congregational church or not."

"A common misconception about revolutionaries," he continued, "is that they are disengaging from God when they leave a local church. We found that while some people leave the local church and fall away from God altogether, there is a much larger segment of Americans who are currently leaving churches precisely because they want more of God in their life but cannot get what they need from a local church. They have decided to get serious about their faith by piecing together a more robust faith experience. Instead of going to church, they have chosen to be the Church, in a way
that harkens back to the Church detailed in the Book of Acts."


One of the most eye-opening portions of the research contained in the book describes what the faith community may look like twenty years from now. Using survey data and other cultural indicators he has been measuring for more than two decades, Barna estimates that the local church is presently the primary form of faith experience and expression for about two-thirds of the nation's adults. He projects that by 2025 the local church will lose roughly half of its current 'market share' and that alternative forms of faith experience and expression will pick up the slack. Importantly,
Barna's studies do not suggest that most people will drop out of a local church to simply ignore spirituality or be freed up from the demands of church life. Although there will be millions of people who abandon the entire faith community for the usual reasons - hurtful experiences in churches, lack of interest in spiritual matters, prioritizing other dimensions of their life - a growing percentage of church dropouts will be those who leave a local church in order to intentionally increase their focus on faith and to relate to God through different means.

That growth is fueling alternative forms of organized spirituality, as well as individualized faith experience and expression. Examples of these new approaches include involvement in a house church, participation in
marketplace ministries, use of the Internet to satisfy various faith-related needs or interests, and the development of unique and intense connections with other people who are deeply committed to their pursuit of God.


In the effort to increase their obedience and faithfulness to God, Barna discovered that Revolutionaries are characterized by what he identified as a set of spiritual passions - seven specific emphases that drive their quest for God and a biblical lifestyle. Although these are areas ofspiritual development that most local churches address, millions of adults who are the most serious about their faith in God were the ones least likely to be satisfied by what their local church was delivering in terms of resources, opportunities, evaluation and developmental possibilities. The consequence is that millions of committed born again Christians are choosing to advance their relationship with God by finding avenues of growth and service apart from a local church.

Asked if this meant that the Revolution he describes is simply a negative reaction to the local church, he suggested that most Revolutionaries go through predictable phases in their spiritual journey in which they initially become dissatisfied with their local church experience, then attempt to change things so their faith walk can be more fruitful. The result is that they undergo heightened frustration over the inability to introduce positive change, which leads them to drop out of the local church
altogether, often in anger. But because this entire adventure was
instigated by their love for God and their desire to honor Him more fully, they finally transcend their frustration and anger by creating a series of connections that allow them to stay close to God and other believers without involvement in a local church.

One of the hallmarks of the Revolution of faith is how different it is for each person. "It would be wrong to assume that all Revolutionaries have completely turned their back on the local church," the researcher stated. "Millions of Revolutionaries are active in a local church, although most of them supplement that relationship with participation in a variety of faith-related efforts that have nothing to do with their local church. The
defining attribute of a Revolutionary is not whether they attend church, but whether they place God first in their lives and are willing to do whatever it takes to facilitate a deeper and growing relationship with Him and other believers. Our studies persuasively indicate that the vast majority of American churches are populated by people who are lukewarm spiritually. Emerging from those churches are people dedicated to becoming Christ-like through the guidance of a congregational form of the church,
but who will leave that faith center if it does not further such a
commitment to God. They then find or create alternatives that allow that commitment to flourish."

How do most Revolutionaries justify calling themselves devoted disciples of Christ while distancing themselves from a local church? "Many of them realize that someday they will stand before a holy God who will examine their devotion to Him. They could take the safe and easy route of staying in a local church and doing the expected programs and practices, but they also recognize that they will not be able to use a lackluster church experience as an excuse for a mediocre or unfulfilled spiritual life. Their
spiritual depth is not the responsibility of a local church; it is their own responsibility. As a result, they decide to either get into a local church that enhances their zeal for God or else they create alternatives that ignite such a life of obedience and service. In essence, these are people who have stopped going to church so they can be the Church."


While the Revolution brings with it some very promising qualities -an intense pursuit of godliness, new networks of believers supporting each other, heightened financial giving to ministry endeavors, greater sensitivity to the presence of God in the world, a greater sense of freedom to be a genuine disciple in the midst of a secular society - Barna also pointed out that the Revolution brings great challenges to those who choose that pathway.

"There is the danger of exposure to unbiblical or heretical teaching. There is the possibility of experiencing isolation from a true community of believers and the accountability and support that can provide. It could become easier to hoard one's treasures rather than giving generously. Some might find it more difficult to sustain a life of worship without a place or means of expressing that praise to God."

Barna contends that these are very serious challenges faced by
Revolutionaries - but that they are no more serious than the threats to the spiritual health of regular church-goers. "Objectively speaking, these are the very same problems that we identify among people who rely upon the efforts of a local church to facilitate their growth. We find plentiful evidence of unbiblical teaching in small groups, Sunday school classes and
other local church venues. We know that few churched Christians give 4% of their income back to God, much less 10%. We recognize that most people attending worship services in a church sanctuary leave feeling that God was not present and that they did not personally connect with the living God through that experience. We have identified the relative absence of accountability within most congregations. So even though Revolutionaries face serious challenges in blossoming into the fervent God-follower they
hope to become, perhaps the main difference is simply that they have a wider range of options for achieving their faith goals than do people who are solely focused on faith delivered through a local church. In either case, it is ultimately up to the individual to make sure that they have their spiritual priorities right, that they are investing themselves in activities that draw them closer to God, and that they stay focused on pleasing God more than themselves or other people."

The explosion of Revolutionaries in the U.S., however, raises new
challenges for people involved in ministry. "This new movement of God demands that there be new forms of leadership to appropriately guide people in their faith journey," Barna said. "It requires new ways of measuring how well the Church at-large is doing, getting beyond attendance figures as the indicator of health. And it demands that new tools and resources be accessible to a growing contingent of people who are seeking to introduce their faith into every dimension of their life."


Having written three-dozen previous books about faith and culture, Barna feels that this book may ultimately wind up being the most significant volume he has written. In the course of doing his customary national research studies, he stumbled onto the Revolution. "Having been personally frustrated by the local church, I initiated several research projects to better understand what other frustrated followers of Christ were doing to maintain their spiritual edge. What emerged was a realization that there is
a large and rapidly-growing population of Christ-followers who are truly want to be like the church we read about in the book of Acts. We began tracking their spiritual activity and found that it is much more robust and significant than we ever imagined - and, frankly, more defensible than what emerges from the average Christian church. But, because the Revolution is neither organized nor designed to create an institutional presence, it
typically goes undetected."

Revolution, published by Tyndale House, is what the author calls "a brief introduction to the most important spiritual movement of our age." He believes that fifty years from now historians will look back at this period and label it one of the most significant periods in American Church history. "I would not be surprised," the California-based researcher noted, "if at some point this becomes known as the Third Great Awakening in our
nation's history. This spiritual renaissance is very different from the prior two religious awakenings in America, but it may well become the most profound."

LINK: http://www.barna.org



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Saturday, October 01, 2005

passion church ucla

"First rule of fight club, you don't tell anyone about Fight Club" Tyler Durden....

Last night we had our little fight club at UCLA. Josh, Caleb and Dave call it "Passion Church" :) I think that's an awesome name for what they got going on. I don't know how to explain it, but I'm excited to see what God is doing through this little band of brothers and sisters. They are seeking God for revival at UCLA, they are asking God for the souls of 40,000 students, they are daring to do the impossible. They are living out the radical Gospel right where they are.

Tues-Wed they held a 30 hour fast for revival at UCLA. Students from different fellowships came to participate at this little apartment across the street from campus. It was packed out as students prayed and worshipped hard in the near dark. I felt like I was in an underground chinese house church. Banning from Bethel Church in Redding flew all the way down just to train and impart to these student radicals on the "supernatural" of God and how the Gospel today must be backed with "power" in order to see God's breaking in of glory on our campuses. amen. I had the opportunity to train also on revival and prophetic evangelism. Something is stirring and it smells like revival at UCLA :)

During the prophetic activation training Banning prophesied over Josh that he saw a "mushroom pizza" when praying for him. Josh then replied, "You know we are having pizza night for our vision night tomorrow" ....vision nite is the introduction meeting to their new campus church plant "Passion Church" at UCLA. It gets more interesting.

The day of the vision nite, Caleb, Josh and Dave pretty much didn't give out many flyers and so we just prayed and really were not expecting anyone to come out to the vision meeting. Low and behold two random girls come to the meeting (they are freshmen) one girl says, "we came because we found your flyer and for some reason we came because it said free pizza!" Josh brought in two
ordered pizzas (one mushroom and the other hawaiin) turns out these were the favorite kinds of pizza for these two freshmen gals.....hmmm...God or odd?

so there we were, having prophetic pizza, with two random new friends and Caleb, Josh, Dave, Alyson, Tina, Jumpei, Matt, Mike
and myself. With nothing planned for the gathering, we just start sharing childhood funny stories. Which turned into 1 hour of sharing hilarious "pee and pooh" stories from our childhood pasts. It was hilarious. Not the most spiritual thing to do. It gets better, later Tina walks out the lounge and God leads her randomly to pray for a student in the dorm hall who is playing guitar, we end up praying for him together. Later Caleb, Dave and Josh share their heart about Passion Church, wat its about, its passion for Jesus, for authentic community, for reaching every lost student on campus and its passion for social justice and mission in the world. It was lovely, it was all unplanned, and all led by the Holy Spirit. These two freshmen girls were just hangn with a crew of radical Jesus lovers gathering together to love and obey Jesus. It was cool, we were having church in the dorm. We told some more funny stories, then prayed for revival a little more, prayed for one of the two freshmen gals, and one started crying, I guess Holy Spirit was either touching her or her contacts were bothering her eyes :P watever the case, Holy Spirit had His way. I forgot to mention while we were sitting in the dorm lounged walking towards the elevator was, "Wait I know that girl, Audra? from the Cause? nooooo way!" Yes way, on the same floor we were having dorm church was Audra from The Cause (one of the gals who prayed with me and hundreds of others for 50 days in Colorado to end abortion). What is the chances of Audra (a nazarite radical) chancing upon our dorm church meeting and living on the same floor having only moved into UCLA a day before and is looking for some like minded radical Jesus loving believers on campus? Only God, only God.

What am I trying to say? I dunno wat i'm trying to say. I'm excited, church is so simple, who ever thought you could have church in a dorm, eating pizza, laughing your butt off, while praying for revival and seeing a prophetic mushroom pizza prophecy happen right before your eyes? The kingdom is meant to be lived out with joy and with violence. Meaning, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force (Matt 11)

This is the mandate. To love and obey Jesus, whenever, wherever, with whoever. It's kingdom, its bringing church to where life happens everyday. Thursday night, that was in a dorm lounge in Reiber Hall 6th floor. It was an unplanned gathering with no agenda but to come together and glorify Jesus as He led us to do His will. The stories get better, but you would have to come to experience it. It's only by experiencing that you will "know"...but are you willing to take the "red pill" and take that risk, to let go of all you knew as church and enter into something completely unknown? The story keeps going....so

Dave then shared how him, caleb and josh decided to watch "Passion of the Christ" in Sproul Hall in the big lounge. Simply cuz they felt like watching it. Next thing you know students all over the dorm start walking by, coming out of their rooms asking, "Hey can we watch with you?" All of sudden the dorm lounge is filling up with random lost students (almost all pre-disciples) watching a film about the suffering passion of the Son of God....church happens again, its so simple, so un-planned, just living out faith where life happens and God is glorified. I told Dave jokingly, "you should start a Passion of the Christ cult and watch it every week in the dorms and tell them if they want to join....?

"First rule of Passion Church, you don't tell anyone about Passion Church."