There is a new breed of Christ-follower in America today. These are people who are more interested in being the Church than in going to church. They are more eager to produce fruit for the kingdom of God than to become comfortable in the Christian subculture. They are focused on the…spiritual passions that facilitate their growth as genuine people of God and citizens of the kingdom. These people are Revolutionaries.
So says pollster George Barna in his recent book. His argument is, since regular churches are not turning out Christians, the ‘new breed’ of Christ-follower of the future (and in many places right now) will be ‘non-churched’ Christians. This new kind of Christian will never darken the door of the church, and within a generation, most Christians will belong to a house church or some kind of other version of Christian community–Barna even sees online community filling the role of traditional churches someday.
Barna has some important points to consider. The so-called traditional church is not getting it done in a lot of ways. House churches and para-church organizations don’t have the ball and chain of a denomination or the curmudgeons of the church holding them back.
But, isn’t the trend to get away from the Christian community a denial of the very strengths inherent in the community? At our small but growing parish, for example, we have ‘ all various conditions of men (and women),’ from different backgrounds, economic situations, ethnicities and generations.
For many suburban or urban professionals, this kind of mix is too much to handle. Barna uses an example of a couple of men who meet on the golf course before prayer and study. This is one of his shining examples of something that finally ‘works.’ While these faithful golfers may be accomplishing decent things in the name of Christ, they never have to struggle with living as the Body of Christ. There are no crazy family dynamics to worry about. You have a good time, put your clubs away, and you never have to mess with crying babies or complaints from old-timers or different colored faces. You have pure, unadulterated, convenient Christianity on your own terms.
Like it or not, God chose a group of people to be ambassadors of his name, not a bunch of individuals. First it was Israel, and now the Gentiles are grafted into the vine of the people of God to point the world to God’s work in Christ. We may bugger it up on a regular basis, but if we learn to act collectively, rather than as mini-messiah’s, the world might just take notice.