George Barna and the Fat Man

July 23, 2004 by

In a recent interview with church research guru George Barna, staff writer for Pentecostal Evangel, Isaac Olivarez, asks a handful of boring questions that probably engaged the senses of Barna as much as rice cakes in front of a fat man. Thankfully, a few of Barna’s answers went beyond the interview questions. If for a minute we think the future of the church is a prayer or prophecy away from where we want it, we must understand that the culture of today is the foundation for the church of tomorrow. Scared?

Invade everyday life
In the interview, George Barna says, “People are interested in spirituality but they’re not necessarily interested in changing their life to conform to any kind of spiritual norms or principles.” Duh! So why do we keep inviting people to church buildings? What would happen if 15 people in your church invited 15 of their friends to the movies? Not to see The Passion of the Christ or Shrek, but a typical Hollywood movie with all its filth and lust and sin. And then go talk about the movie afterward (not in a church building), intentionally nudging the questions beyond how good-looking the actors were, and maybe into the story line. And when you’re done with the evening, don’t invite them to church – chances are they don’t want to come anyway. If they do, they know where to find you. People will create their own patterns. How can following Jesus become a part of that?

Don’t try and delegate to Billy Graham
Olivarez asked how Barna would describe Christians in terms of evangelism. Barna’s response was “willing to let Billy Graham do the job for them.” Billy is old. He is approaching eternity in Heaven. When are we going to stop deferring to him for the job of evangelism? When will we stop thinking evangelism is a stadium full of people? When will evangelism quit being viewed as task to accomplish (and beating ourselves up when we don’t) and instead as a way of living our lives? You don’t want to change your everyday patterns anyway, right?

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Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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Evangelism & Outreach