The fruit of genuine transformation should characterize the lives of all Christ-followers, yet if truth be known, precious few who claim to be Christians actually evidence such transformation in their lives. This is exactly what George Barna highlighted today in the unveiling of his new book, Maximum Faith, at the Western regional Wesleyan Holiness Consortium, held at Azusa Pacific University.
Barna pulled no punches in describing how today's church has divorced transformation from the process of salvation and placed it into the hands of the individual. Rather than providing people with a "map" for the intentional transformation of their lives, many churches give folks a "menu" -- leaving it up to the individual to pick-and-choose among options, selecting what sounds good to them, and hoping it all turns out well. In contrast to such an approach, Barna insists that churches must partner with people in the transformation of their lives, guiding them and helping them to avoid the faulty associations so prevalent among professing Christians today. Barna's recent research suggests that...
We Confuse: With:
intellectual knowledge faith
emotional happiness joy
physical comfort divine reward
Such confusions and misconceptions can be remedied, at least in part, by better understanding the dynamics of authentic spiritual transformation. So then, how does God transform people’s lives? Barna draws on recent research to describe a ten-stop "journey" that he believes produces robust life transformation – and goes on to explain the reasons behind why most people struggle to get past the halfway mark (noting that only 1% of Americans reach stop 9 and/or 10). Here are Barna's 10 "Stops":
- Concern about sin
- Born again - inactive
- Born again - active (doing "Christian" things)
- Brokenness (usually through personal crisis)
- Surrender, Submission
- Profound love of God
- Profound love for people
Much is currently being written regarding evangelicalism's misrepresentation of conversion/salvation as a "decision" or "event" that occurs at a point-in-time, rather than as a process or journey. Despite this, change is slow in coming. I applaud Barna for being a contributing voice to a church in need of reform, and look forward to reading and reviewing Maximum Faith in the coming days.