“These are people [a group of more than 20 million adults, as of Oct 2005, throughout the nation labeled ‘revolutionaries’] who are less interested in attending church than in being the church,” Barna explained. “We found that there is a significant distinction in the minds of many people between the local church – with a small ‘c’ – and the universal Church – with a capital ‘C’. Revolutionaries tend to be more focused on being the Church, capital C, whether they participate in a congregational church or not.
“One of the most eye-opening portions of the research contained in the book describes what the faith community may look like twenty years from now. Using survey data and other cultural indicators he has been measuring for more than two decades, Barna estimates that the local church is presently the primary form of faith experience and expression for about two-thirds of the nation’s adults. He projects that by 2025 the local church will lose roughly half of its current “market share” and that alternative forms of faith experience and expression will pick up the slack. Importantly, Barna’s studies do not suggest that most people will drop out of a local church to simply ignore spirituality or be freed up from the demands of church life. Although there will be millions of people who abandon the entire faith community for the usual reasons -hurtful experiences in churches, lack of interest in spiritual matters, prioritizing other dimensions of their life – a growing percentage of church dropouts will be those who leave a local church in order to intentionally increase their focus on faith and to relate to God through different means.
“That growth is fueling alternative forms of organized spirituality, as well as individualized faith experience and expression. Examples of these new approaches include involvement in a house church, participation in marketplace ministries, use of the Internet to satisfy various faith-related needs or interests, and the development of unique and intense connections with other people who are deeply committed to their pursuit of God.
“…The consequence is that millions of committed born again Christians are choosing to advance their relationship with God by finding avenues of growth and service apart from a local church.
“Asked if this meant that the Revolution he describes is simply a negative reaction to the local church, he suggested that most Revolutionaries go through predictable phases in their spiritual journey in which they initially become dissatisfied with their local church experience, then attempt to change things so their faith walk can be more fruitful. The result is that they undergo heightened frustration over the inability to introduce positive change, which leads them to drop out of the local church altogether, often in anger. But because this entire adventure was instigated by their love for God and their desire to honor Him more fully, they finally transcend their frustration and anger by creating a series of connections that allow them to stay close to God and other believers without involvement in a local church.
“…Our studies persuasively indicate that the vast majority of American churches are populated by people who are lukewarm spiritually. Emerging from those churches are people dedicated to becoming Christ-like through the guidance of a congregational form of the church, but who will leave that faith center if it does not further such a commitment to God. They then find or create alternatives that allow that commitment to flourish.
“…’Having been personally frustrated by the local church, I initiated several research projects to better understand what other frustrated followers of Christ were doing to maintain their spiritual edge. What emerged was a realization that there is a large and rapidly-growing population of Christ-followers who are truly want to be like the church we read about in the book of Acts. We began tracking their spiritual activity and found that it is much more robust and significant than we ever imagined – and, frankly, more defensible than what emerges from the average Christian church. But, because the Revolution is neither organized nor designed to create an institutional presence, it typically goes undetected.’ ”
read more …
More and more I am realizing that I do not ‘attend church’ for spiritual formation. I can find teachings, systematic or otherwise, from gifted teachers on line. I do not go for the corporate singing. Although I enjoy it, I do not find it to be where I have my intimate times of worship. Besides, I am in the process of trying to make my whole life a life of perpetual worship. And I do not go for ‘fellowship’. (Q. where else other than ‘church’ is this word used?) Though I do have friends there, they are Sunday morning friends and if I moved away or started attending somewhere else, that friendship, for the most part, would end. This is neither right nor wrong, it is just the reality of life. Truly, you can only really have strong, intimate friendship with a handful of people and in my case, most of those intimate friends do not attend my ‘church’, and those that do, that friendship is not developed on Sunday morning.
So why do I ‘attend church’? I have come to the conclusion that, for the most part, it is out of religious duty.