Friday, August 18, 2006

Growing True Disciples

Anytime church politics start making me crazier than I want to be, I try to refocus myself on why we are trying to be a church, anyway. So, this week I have chosen a book by George Barna called Growing True Disciples for my Friday review. Like last week, this book has been out for a while, but I haven't seen it referenced in any of the ring's blogs that I read, although Barna's most recent book, Revolution was discussed almost a year ago (November 4, 2005) by Kruse Kronicle.

This book addresses the hardest issue facing all Adult Ed. committees. How do you take people focused on spiritual maintenance and refocus them on spiritual development. In other words, how do you convert the Frozen Chosen into zealots for Christ? Of course, since George Barna is a pollster at heart, he is also concerned with how you identify and quantify progress when the traditional abc's of church growth (attendance, buildings and cash) aren't necessarily material.

The new symptoms of success are:
  • Worship every day in and out of church;
  • Constant effort to discover new insight into faith and apply it to life;
  • Complete submission to the Holy Spirit;
  • Becoming sensitive to sin and wounded when we offend God;
  • Joyfully sharing our resources;
  • Building community with other Christians;
  • Selfless compassion towards others;
  • Evangelism based on relationships and supported by lifestyle;
  • Living differently because of faith;
  • A church that is loving, caring, focused and clear in its pursuit of God's ways;
  • A continual link to God through prayer and meditation; and
  • Willing volunteers.
So far, this sounds like a cheerleader book; and it isn't. Barna talks about theory. He talks about traditional practices that have become ruts. He also talks about churches he has studied that he thinks are successfully developing mature Christians and what they have in common.

Perhaps most importantly, Barna really illustrates why it is that successful discipleship programs must be specific to a given church community. The latter chapters are on successful churches and useful tools, and they make it obvious that spiritual growth must take place within an existing Christian culture. Two things make this book successful. First, it couples an awareness of the need for building something unique to your church with the tools to make it happen. Second, it is written in a way that is easily accessible to readers accustomed to intellectual, rational approaches to spiritual matters.

If you have referenced this book and I missed it, please let me know. If you would rather not leave a comment, I can be reached directly at


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