Unit 6.4 a developing trend of people deepening their spirituality in small groups outside their churches.


Research from George Barna’s book Revolution[1] indicates a developing trend of people deepening their spirituality in small groups outside their churches. From the back cover of the book: World‑renowned pollster George Barna has the numbers, and they indicate a revolution is already taking place within the church, one that will impact every believer in America. Committed, born‑again Christians are exiting the established church in massive numbers. Why are they leaving? Where are they going? And what does this mean for the future of the Church? Using years’ worth of research data, and adhering to an unwavering biblical perspective, Barna predicts how this revolution will impact the organized church, how Christ’s body of believers should react, and how individuals who are considering leaving (or those who have already left) can respond. For leaders working for positive change in the church and for believers struggling to find a spiritual community and worship experience that resonates, Revolution is here. Are you ready?

When you delve behind the hype, this is a reality. People who believe that the institutional church prevents or hinders their spiritual growth and are seeking spiritual freedom without the confining practices of traditional spirituality. In the terminology of this course, they do not find a discipleship system within their traditional church, so they seek to participate in a discipleship system outside of their church. Some have left the traditional church behind and some participate in both worlds.

What motivates this separation from the limitations of a traditional church.  One could call this spiritual athleticism; I=m stronger, I=m fit, and the traditional church has no right to control me or hold me back from fulfilling my spiritual potential. This desire to rise above the mundane and live a higher life than others is definitively spiritually adolescent; it has great power and energy, which we envy. It is often balanced by little consistency, maturity and care for others. It can be smug, shallow, self-exaltation or spiritual narcissism. The natural result of catering to spiritual consumerism is the demand for luxury spiritual nurture for the elite consumer. Church history is full of people who desire to ascend from the mundane and live on a higher plane, closer to heaven than the others.

When you think about it, this is nothing new. There are an abundance of discipleship systems that are entirely separate from participation in a local church.

[1]George Barna, Revolution (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005).

NOTE (my response)



The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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