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george barna 



1.  we ask this of everyone, how would you define the postmodern movement?


Postmodernism represents the change in worldview based on the ideas that there are no moral absolutes because truth is a relative construct; that life is mosaic rather than linear; that meaning is derived from the customization of reality rather than the acceptance of a mass reality; and that all you can know for certain is what you experience.

2.  what do you see as the three most important changes a church needs to face to reach this generation?  and why?

I’m not sure what you mean by “this generation” but I will interpret that to mean the Mosaics – the group following the Baby Busters, a segment of people born from 1985 through the end of 2002.  First, you cannot effectively evangelize most of them by preaching at them.  Effective evangelism with this group requires relationships, dialogue and a willingness to journey together.  A Socratic form of evangelism – question-based, rather than didactic; long-term rather than hit-and-run; conversational rather than confrontational; backed up by personal modeling rather than institutional traditions and dogma - works best.


Second, there is neither interest in nor loyalty to the local church, so assumptions regarding the primacy of church affiliation are ill-advised.  We do not want to automatically give in to people’s desires, but we also have to face certain realities regarding Scripture, culture and religious practices and tendencies.  The format of the church that most people experience was man-made, not God-ordained.  We have a lot of leeway regarding what the church should look like, and very little leeway regarding what we should believe.  Consequently, we have to re-think the shape or model of the church required to penetrate young people in a completely different and rapidly changing culture.


Third, leadership is paramount to growing a healthy and far-reaching Church among young people.  Vision, mobilization, motivation, and strategic direction are necessary for both appeal and impact.  Having churches that lack strong, vision-driven leadership won’t get far.

3.  given the regular decrease in church membership over the past ten years (with few exceptions) what do you believe are the keys to "bringing them back?"


People respond to value.  If they felt they were getting something of value, they would devote themselves to the ends of the church.  Their absence suggests that they are not receiving perceived value.  Value is reflected in different things to different people.


For regular church-goers value may be a great children’s ministry, great preaching, belonging to a loving community, and so forth.  For individuals who are not faith-focused, it may relate to friendships, doing acts of kindness that make a difference in people’s lives, gaining meaning in life or achieving a sense of belonging.  When people adopt a church, they want a place that fills in the gaps in their life or that helps them to be someone they would not otherwise become.


Bottom line, we must recognize that each person has to be treated as an important individual and ministered to in ways that reflect their individuality and idiosyncrasies.  To bring people back to a church we must develop significant relationships with them; live a credible Christian life that makes such an experience desirable or at least intriguing enough to explore; take advantage of opportunities to engage them in dialogue about meaning, purpose and truth; invite them to experience a community of faith that provides value and does not waste their time or insult their taste and intellect; and mentor them in light of biblical principles as they strive to make sense of life and faith.

4.  reaching a generation of "postmodern thinkers" is hard, what do you believe are the "selling points" the christian faith can bring forward to reach this generation?


The key appeals would probably relate to having peace with God; having a positive impact on the lives of others, especially those who are less fortunate; gaining insight into the meaning and purpose of life; belonging to a group of like-minded, accepting people who are supportive and focused; and receiving tangible support in times of confusion, pain or struggle without exorbitant and unreasonable expectations placed on them in return.


We talk a lot about having a relationship with Christ, but that doesn’t make much sense to most postmoderns because of their view of Christ.  We talk a lot about knowing and living the Bible, but that does not appeal because they don’t believe the Bible is authentic truth and they have seen few, if any, Christians who effectively follow through on Scripture.  Their starting place in evaluating everything is themselves, so we are better off starting with them and leading them to the cross through a patient, loving, sensitive and intelligent process that responds to their felt needs.

5.  what current trends do you see happening in successful churches today?

These churches have great leadership: individuals who lead within a team context, are focused on a vision from God, and work hard to motivate, mobilize, resource and direct people to effectively pursue that vision.  Those churches help their people to understand and obsess on worship – genuine worship, not a studied set of routines, but an all-out, heartfelt communion with God.  Great churches typically set high standards for disciples, and pour tremendous resources into enabling believers to reach those standards.


Every great church we study also has a vibrant youth ministry and is well-known for actively serving the poor and disadvantaged in their community.  One of the great misconceptions about great churches is that they are large.  Many of them are mid-sized bodies.  It’s hard to be a great church when you’re small, but small churches can start out great and focused on being all that God has called them to be and, as a result, inevitably grow larger.

6.  given 911, do you see any of the trends in question 5 changing over the next few years?


No.  Spiritually speaking, 9-11 has not affected us as deeply as many people would like to imagine.  The same patterns that have been emerging over the past five years are continuing on track, seemingly as if 9-11 never happened.  The only pattern that does seem to have changed, and it is troublesome, is that people seem less apt to donate to churches now.  There is a greater willingness to divert some of their giving to other types of non-profit organizations in the hope of having a positive impact on the world.

7.  over your years researching social trends, what three things have surprised you the most about human nature and the church?  and why?

How little we change.  We live in the midst of change, and we alter some of our general behaviors, but our underlying values and beliefs change remarkably little past the age of 18.  The same is true for institutions, such as the Church.  People shift their emphasis in what seems important from half-decade to half-decade, but generally we are still fighting the same battles we were fighting forty years ago.


How ignorant people are of their faith in spite of decades of exposure to teaching, preaching and conversation about Christianity.  Most people say they know all the major principles of the Christian faith and have no intention of changing any of their perspectives – and they stick to that.  However, when you question them as to what they believe, it becomes apparent how ill-informed most Americans are about the fundamentals of Christianity.  Getting them into Bible study groups, Sunday school classes and more worship services seems to have a negligible affect upon their faith knowledge.  Sadly, in many ways we seem to have inoculated people to Christ.


How important great leadership is.  Apart from supernatural intervention – which we welcome at any time, in any form God chooses! – the only hope of seeing the Church come to life in this country is for godly, Spirit-filled, biblically sound, vision-driven leaders to direct the church down a more meaningful path.  Virtually every effective ministry I study has just a handful of common characteristics, and those all emanate from the presence of such leadership.



  some books by george:

Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions
George Barna; Hardcover;

Think Like Jesus: Make the Right Decision Every Time
George Barna; Hardcover; Buy New: $13.99

Growing True Disciples: New Strategies for Producing Genuine Followers of Christ
George Barna; Hardcover; Buy New: $13.27

High Impact African-American Churches: Leadership Concepts from Some of Today's Most Effective Churches
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $10.49

The Power of Team Leadership : Achieving Success Through Shared Responsibility (Barna, George. Barna Reports for Highly Effective Churches Series.)
GEORGE BARNA; Hardcover; Buy New: $13.27

The Power of Vision
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $10.49

Real Teens: A Contemporary Snapshot of Youth Culture
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $11.19

Leaders on Leadership: Wisdom, Advice, and Encouragement on the Art of Leading God's People (The Leading Edge Series)
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $12.59

The Second Coming Of The Church
George Barna; Hardcover; Buy New: $18.99

The Habits of Highly Effective Churches: Being Strategic in Your God Given Ministry
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $11.19

How to Increase Giving in Your Church : A Practical Guide to the
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $11.19

Boiling Point: Monitoring Cultural Shifts in the 21st Century
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $11.89

Grow Your Church from the Outside in: Understanding the Unchurched and How to Reach Them
George Barna; Hardcover; Buy New: $12.59

Turning Vision into Action
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $10.49

A Fish Out of Water: 9 Strategies Effective Leaders Use to Help You Get Back into the Flow
George Barna; Hardcover; Buy New: $13.99

Evangelism That Works: How to Reach Changing Generations With the Unchanging Gospel
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $10.49

A Step-By-Step Guide to Church Marketing Breaking Ground for the Harvest
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $19.99

Turn-Around Churches: How to Overcome Barriers to Growth and Bring New Life to an Established Church
George Barna; Audio CD; Buy New: $10.39

Single Focus
George Barna; Hardcover; Buy New: $12.59

Boiling Point: It Only Takes One Degree
George Barna; Hardcover; Buy New: $19.99

Generation Next: What You Need to Know About Today's Youth
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New: $13.99

Baby Busters: Disillusioned Generation
George Barna; Paperback; Buy New





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