In the comments of the previous entry (big blogs have a "meta," but us small fish just have "comments"), I was asked what exactly I meant by the last post.
Here it is: it was a sarcastic swipe at Barna over a comment he had allegedly made about the local church is becoming irrelevant.
I was probably too sarcastic. And I'll admit, I hadn't seen the quote first-hand, so I broke my own rule of viewing original sources before making comments.
But Barna and others seem to be purveying this notion that the local church is irrelevant, and somehow just a cultural thing, instead of a biblical institution. And I am concerned that this movement seems to be gaining ground.
For example, here is a link to a recent article from Time Magazine on the "simple church" which I think typifies what my concern is: that people can live a perfectly healthy & fulfilled life away from a local body of believers. It's not just a homegroup, or a subgroup of a local body, but this little gathering considers itself a church.
Please don't misunderstand. I'm sure a lot of what they are doing is a reaction to the excesses of the megachurch movement, and to the weak state of evangelical churches as a whole. However, the methods they are employing are just as unbiblical as the movements they are fleeing.
Don't take my word for it, though. Have a look at a simple church site.
Back to Barna. Here are two quotes from an excerpt of his new book, Revolution that exemplify this worrisome attitude:
"In the great awakenings of America’s history, the pattern was always the same: draw people into the local church for teaching and other experiences. In this new movement of God, the approach is the opposite: it entails drawing people away from reliance upon a local church into a deeper connection with and reliance upon God."
"I am not called to attend or join a church. I am called to be the Church."
Now there is probably a sense in which both of these are true, in context. But in a society of Lone Ranger Christians, these types of assertions seem more irresponsible than anything else. Barna at one time said he was on a mission to reform the church; it now seems that he's replaced that mission with a desire to simply discard it altogether.
The local church is not "beside the point;" it is the point. It is the church--the way the Bible mandates that we organize ourselves as believers.