Barna’s Important Survey on the State of the Church

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Barna’s Six Megathemes

27 Comments
  1. When i heard the soldier’s letter I didn’t see the vitriol more so than i saw an angry, upset, hurting soldier.

  2. I don’t know why we pretend to “have an impact” on the world.
    Jesus said, “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves…”
    The world will only want to “…break [our] bands in sunder…”
    The only TRUE impact is when people are TRULY living for Christ; for this, we only need “Pillars” in the church – those who have laid down their lives to uphold the Truth (Jesus) for others to see.

    Not to be forgotten: “…Are few men being saved?” “…few there be that find eternal life.”

  3. The problem is individuals’ compromising – period.

    You said something, Dr. Brown:

    “…that people are not clearly plugged into Jesus enough — that out of that they actually have something to share?”

    See, this is what I pray all the time! I always feel the need to go and evangelize, but when I try, I recognize that I am not holding strong enough to Jesus, and, like Peter, I start to drown. I lose power because my eyes fall on the seen instead of the unseen. If someone could teach me more about how to be more properly in Jesus… HAVE something FOR MYSELF to share with others…

  4. ‘if we become like the world, then what are we saving them from?’ – Yes, it says,

    ‘I become all things to all men’

    …but it also says,

    ‘they are surprised when you do not run with them in their excess’

    the problem is pseudo-Christian societies… which is PRECISELY what happened in Israel…

  5. If the state of the church is to be what is claimed on the Voice of Revolution magazine latest omniscent narrator video segment by one Popovic, of FireChicago, we are in great difficulty of deception. “Possessed of the Spirit”, and other omniscent non-scriptural states of being are advocated and are, in fact, false teaching. So, on all sides of the so-called “spiritual life” spectrum there are those who would deceive and lead sheep to false pastures. The state of the church must be cleaving to the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ, claimed as Paul’s own in scriptural definition. We must watch and keep our lamps lit by choice, not by bandwagonism, pump-em-up, or states of emotional fervor in meetings as a substitute for an actual abiding faith (which is tested in the furnaces of real life, not ecstatic states).

  6. I am thankful that Dr Brown was willing to bring this report up on his show. I passed on the article to my pastor — who appreciated reading it himself. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t seem like a lot of christians are too worried about it. Nevrtheless, Dr Brown, you gave us some good advice at the end of your show which started with “getting back to the basics.”

  7. By the way, Dr Brown, I would encourage you to touch on the emergent church someday soon — which one of your callers mentioned — if you haven’t already done so. I would love to get your take on it (although I believe personally that the EC isn’t a good influence on evangelicals).

  8. We are called to be “living Gospels”. The Lord said, “Abide in Me”, and since He is the WORD of God, it would benefit us to actually know what the Word says in the Holy Scriptures. That way, we can “hear” loud and clear when false teachings and worldly doctrines creap in.

    When’s the last time anyone asked you the reason for the joy and hope that eminates from your person? When someone, maybe at the grocery store says to me, “Why are you always smiling; You’re always in a good mood.” I look for that as my chance to witness to that person by telling them why I’m always in a good mood.

    We need to do the work for ourselves and that’s where I think most of the problem lies. We don’t get engrossed enough in reading the Bible. It teaches you all you need to know. If you’re only getting your learning once a week, and you don’t truly know whether that pastor is well versed in the Word, well, you’re missing quite a bit of the bigger picture.

    It’s the Word that lights the fire in you, not a weekly sermon that follows time constraints so that you can catch that football game on time.

  9. Jabez,

    I agree with your concern with the “pump ’em up” comment. I have found, though, that it isn’t always the case. True there is much of this “pump ’em up” way of doing things out there but there is also a genuineness to this which is God inspired at times. Of course our SOURCE needs to be the reality of the gospel as you mentioned.

    I do believe thought that there is a reality to being in “union” with Christ. Not so much a charasmatic experience, but rather a “release of the Spirit” from within our callous outer shells as Watchmen Nee and others have taught. Have you ever read “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence? Any thoughts on that.

    True we need to be wary of the soulish “pump ’em up” pep rallies…but overreaction to this will just swing the pendulum far to the other side, denying the reality of experiencing the Lord in his fulness. I am not saying this is what you are doing, but rather just noting a trend that often happens when we, as humans, are hurt by excessive and/or false teachings.

    The building of our character and maturing of us as believers certainly does come through the often unpleasant process of the cross and it’s workings in our life. But there is a reward, a greater intimacy and profound “experiential” union with the Lord that is our reward for agreeing with and submitting to His working in our life.

  10. Communion now, union on the Return. I have both Nee and Lawrence material here, and practice what Fa. Keating, of Snowmass, CO. practices. I agree that the Spirit breaks down the outward barriers to being vessels, pots as it were, of his bearing. I disagree that one can be continually “possessed”, which, due to the voice of the omniscent narrator mentioned, I am most doubtful that person has continuously experienced.

    Even the prophets so recorded as in ecstatic states on receiving visions, as John for the Revelation, had to return to the earth to be of heavenly good here. It is one thing to say be in the Spirit, and another altogether to say that a normal spiritual life is continuously in a state of “psession by the Spirit”. Even Dr. Brown would not claim such a state of being.

    Jesus went away to “a lonely place” to be with and commune with the Father. He had to consciously so determine his own renewal, over and over, due to the pressing pressures of crowds, being ostracized by the existing in his Father’s Name religious system, and due to the limits of being in the flesh. There was no “corporate” Jesus, in the rhetoric of USA pump-em-up.

    I stand by what Jesus stated as to how to be in the Spirit, in John 13:13 through early chapter 16, and as to the personification of the human struggle to be so by Paul in Romans 6-8. No New Covenant writer spoke of big meeting behaviors, except for Paul in Corinthians, as to carnality.
    You, Dave, will need to qualify you assumptions as to pendulums by Scripture, not opinion: to abide in Christ.

    Here we have the basic tension with today’s cultural religon, differing from Jesus own cultural frame of reference. E. Stanley Jones wrote the most sobering expose, then Hank Hanograff, then John the Apostle. We must not be persuaded by crowded mass techniques, but, indeed by the Lamb of God. Noone remains pumped up, whipped up, or ecstatic very long when faced with the chores of daily living. Even Bro. Lawrence, who had regular dish duty in a Monestary, had to make conscious choices to keep his lamp lit.

    I agree to a long proven contemplative and quieting experience to keep with the Spirit, not a loud and crowd eccentric experience. This is not to say that we cannot participate in lively worship, but lets not confuse that with life in the Spirit, which all the New Testament writers allude to as being a mature state of reliance on the Spirit when in difficult and suffering circumstances. James clarified such as the trials of life, not the bandwagon buying into proclamations of a differeng Gospel from well lit stages.

    We must emerse ourselves in the Communion of the faith, and yes, while longing for Union with the Father, and the Son, on that Day. I would suggest reading the last Andrew Yeoman piece on the Kingdom of God in the online Voice of Revolution magazine to comprehend the balance that the Message carrying its own weight puts on human presumption made in the Name of the Lord.

    Where the gifts too are active, there is to be order, and Promise. Let no man judge what is established in you, and let no soul attempt to play Father God as to interpretation of the Promise and Hope of our own resurrection being, in the Returning Christ. There remains some sloppy Agape, and errant teaching made in the stead of true Charisma. I did not bury my own head in the sand, though told to in its ways many many times, why> Because there remains a still small voice crying in the wilderness of commerce and religious practices in this and many nations.

    Even so, Maranantha.

  11. I would love to serve Christ by offering a discernment series to disillusioned Pentecostals and Charismatics, for, I still uphold the gifts–in their place. It is a poor equation Active Gifts=the Spiritual Life. Who did Jesus say would claim to have done much in his Name, yet would not be included “on that Day”?

    To do the will of the Lord is not synonomous with practicing the gifts of the Lord at all costs of abiding Grace and Truth. There needs to be an active purging of those adding to the Gospel of the New Testament. Practices in meetings are just that, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are to be subject to Him, His Spirit, and what is taught as to a whole way of living in the NT.

  12. You, Dave, will need to qualify you assumptions as to pendulums by Scripture, not opinion: to abide in Christ.

    I think you misunderstood my point. I wasn’t disagreeing with what you wrote. I think I can see where I wasn’t clear in what I wrote.

    I was making a general statement about people I know who have been wounded by what you accurately wrote concerning a lot of charasmatic type meetings. I have seen, and been guilty of myself, overreacting and casting aside many good things because I “threw the baby out with the bath water” so to speak. It was a part of my immaturity at the time. What I specifically meant by “pendulums” was our reaction to experience, swinging from one extreme viewpoint to another RATHER than by scripture. Does that make sense? In essence I believe I was saying what you were saying in what I quoted you above; that scripture needs to be our guide(and not overreaction to something that is off).

    I am not sure where I stand with the “union” issue. This is something I have been seeking clarity on for awhile now. I understand your points about communion now, and union later. Still seeking…

    I have not yet read the article on possession but I am about to. I think this was my major miscommunication in my post. I was simply trying to dialogue with your post outside of that article…my mistake.

    I agree with the idea we aren’t possessed by him. I would say we are co-laboring with him. But we can only truly co-labor with him to the degree we are submitted to him. I do, however, don’t see a problem using the word possession in the sense that we His possession…meaning we belong to Him.

    Thanks for the detailed response. It is appreciated.

  13. Jabez,

    I just listened to the video with Popovic and I don’t understand your point. Didn’t we become God’s possession once we were saved? Weren’t we once under the control of the power of the evil one? Weren’t we his possession before salvation?

    I guess I am not seeing where this video is equating being possessed by God as a continual blissful state as you mentioned.

    Am I missing/misunderstanding something?

  14. Dave, It is a lead in omniscent synopsis on the blog, with alarming rhetoric. The fact is the whole teaching is not given at all, just the pump em up assertion. I strongly disagree with the emphatics made, for the reasons cited. I merely quoted a couple, there are many more. It is absolutism, handed out as definitive of the “Spiritual life”. I think what I shared about what is referred to as such in the NT debunks what is asserted as such in the brief announcements proclaimed.

    It is ludicrous to absolutely claim what was claimed. Much more qualification is given by the New Testament writers. You might read what I shared under the healings blog in other lands (Africa) to catch the point of concern. What is the Gospel? And how then shall we live? Not what is the so-called “full gospel” which promotes other agenda regarding how then we shall live. It is a fine line, have you read E. STanley Jones, or Hank Hanagraff on the excesses of pump em up? Just curious (not dilerious)?

    We need to look also at crowd based suggestion and resulting phenomena. What did Steven and Peter declare and claim to the chosen Nation’s assembled crowd? What did Jesus declare to the crowds at the Sermon on the Mount, on the Plane, and about the Kingdom, ending up with his chosen disciples (Mt 13 49-52)? Discernment of His methods of communication with those he could have easily manipulated shows the qualities of His Way, and where he went with his descriptors of the Kingdom experience and the resting of conscious choice with his disciples, not for absolutism’s assembly catharsis and fixations.

  15. I don’t hear arguing, Daniel. I hear two people who have entered into exchanges many times on various blog headings. Dave is a very kind hearted person who doesn’t answer in anger, or, if it appears he has, he is quick to offer an apology and correct it. He is also humble and concedes a point when pursuaded, while at the same time standing on his beliefs while willing to grow.

    Jabez is more forthright, mature in his language and understanding and also states his opinion on issues from his personal viewpoint, whether others agree or not. I’d say he’s an example of being fully pursuaded in his own mind. He has conceded some points, even to me, in the past. 🙂
    (Pauline View-VOR)

    I enjoy both of their exchanges and I don’t see where this one has gotten out of hand. Just my understanding of it.

    Carry on, Dave; Jabez. I’m learning something.

    You’re a great guy Dave. And I’m proud to call you, brother.

    You’re a challenging debater, Jabez. And a good friend and brother in Christ.

  16. Sheila,

    Thanks for the kind words…

    Daniel,

    I think you are misunderstanding the conversation. Not arguing at all here with Jabez. I trust his intentions and he has given a lot of helpful insight on past discussion.

  17. Jabez,

    Oh my…please be patient with me as my reading comprehension isn’t very good(my dad is a writer and you both write somewhat similarly…I have a hard time sometimes with longer sentences etc.) While I do understand your concerns, generally speaking about absolutism and soulish pump em up, I still am not grasping the connection which seems to be apparent to you in the video. Maybe my brain is just not working at full capacity today! haha 🙂

    Anyway, I’ll check out your suggestion on the previous blog you wrote on and see if I can gather some more info. I’m not misunderstanding your points of concern about life in the spirit vs “possession” by God, but rather the connection to this video you have conviction about.

  18. Dave (Sheila, and Daniel),

    And be patient with me as well. It is clear that I must be less obscure, and more exacting in my posts, so here goes. Here is what is posted by David Popovici, with the citation following. I will post a second reference regarding my second concern, which was not posted of Popovici.

    “The secret of the spiritual life is a life that is devoted unto the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a life that is spent gazing upon the beauty of Jesus Christ. It is a life that is spent absorbed into the presence of God where a divine transaction takes place, and the electricity of God so changes a man’s composition that he looks, acts, speaks, and breaths like Jesus Christ Lord himself. When the Spirit of God possesses a man a man can reveal God in full manifest glory and power in the earth, and that dying desperate need of a generation that is lost, and sick and diseased is that men would [obscured here} that point to the point that men that the} [not obscured] holy ghost would walk out in power and demonstrate through the proclamation of a Gospel through healing the sick and raising the dead that Jesus Christ is alive, and that he is coming back, and that we must repent and put faith in the Gospel.”

    From http://voiceofrevolution.askdrbrown.org/2010/12/18/david-popovici-the-secret-to-the-spiritual-life/

    My concerns about the post have already been stated, that we hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ mixed with another gospel, which insists on other experience as being “the secret of the spiritual life.” I wonder how many dead bodies Mr./Bro? Popovici has raised from the dead to date? I wonder too how much “electricity” he has likewise been charged up with? And how does this confirm and contrast with what Jesus says about what the Spirit will do in John (already cited)???

  19. Dave,

    The second reference of concern was…

    http://voiceofrevolution.askdrbrown.org/2009/08/31/why-do-more-miracles-happen-in-africa/

    I suggest you especially note my comment, #10, in addition to the other concerns raised there.

    Let me also state clearly that I am a proponent of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as is written in the New TTestament, and that I hold that in addition to sound teaching: that the gifts and presence of the Spirit of God be permitted his action in assembly as well as in general milieu in the Body of Christ. My concerns are clear enough.

    What will the child of God who does not experience what Mr. Popovici and Mr. K. state then go away with from their teachings, likely, that they have an illegitamate claim as being true children of God, based alone on the criteria these men have asserted. Why do I say it is false, when, indeed, Jesus does heal and can raise the dead? Because it is not always so, not by formula, because of the concerns raised in my direct responses to these postings, and because I know better. We are not to preach ourselves, but Christ, and ourselves as servants–not miracle workers–for his sake (II Cor 4:5).

    Does this mean that miracles cannot happen, no. Does it mean that miracles are normative, no. Does it mean that we are getting it wrong in the arena of our spiritual lives when what is being stated as normative is not confirmed in them, no.

    A relationship with Jesus is based on denying self and being allied with his yea and amen whole way of living. To miss the challenges involved by the substitution of miracles or signs and wonders for abiding through grace in faith is to mislead the children God has already adopted. The state of the church must address these realities, so as to not cast off genunine believers whose faith is tried in many ways on a daily basis.

    It gets to this, the Gospel Mr. Popovici proclaims is not always so, and, perhaps, is seldom the case, whereas the Gospel Paul claimed as his is always so, as was given him directly by the Lord. I or you may not ever be or act, breathe, etc. “like Jesus Lord Himself”, and, I feel, this is vital understanding as to faithfully reproducing what Paul states in II Cor. 4. As I prior stated, read the article on the Secret of the Kingdom by A. Yeoman in the same magazine to understand the difference between preaching we ourselves, and trusting God to do the work of confirming his word where it is preached/sown in a given territory.

    Do we wish to give false expectation, or the truth about the “secrets of the spritual life”. Imagine the young believer in the audience receiving the words of Popovici then struggling with his own history, limits, and needs giving up the faith because of not measuring up to this false normative expectation.

  20. Please forgive me for posting often, but, on the other side of the coin we have another state of the church.

    Anthony De Mello tells a story of a man who went to a village and showed them how to make fire. So for a time, everyone participated in this great miracle, and gained warmth and the other benefits of fire. But after the man was gone, the people made a temple to that man, and enshrined the fire making instruments, told great tales of the wonder of fire, perhaps had heated theological arguments over the merits of different firemaking methods… But there was no more fire!

    What is the fire of the church? It is not simply exhibited in pump em up, but in the light of life, given to men, and the response to keep our lamps both lit and trim.

  21. On the survey; I agree that “care” in a humanitarian sense has replaced the connected message from the head and founder of the Church. This is, unfortunately, linked to the notions of what is “appropriate” to not offend in our society. The Gospel is indeed offensive to those not convicted of being in need of a savior. It remains that the Message of the Gospel still interacts with souls in a divine way when the Message is proclaimed. Those not appointed for wrath will be given the opportunity to hear, as is the burden of the Lord for those walking in darkness. It may take some unfortunate events for some to desire hearing beyond their immediate experience.

  22. So, Dave,

    Were the last few postings helpful to our discussion? When Jesus was arrested, beaten, and put on the cross, was he full of “holy ghost electricity”? Was Benny Hinn when his wife announced her divorce this year?

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