Churchless and You Lost Me – books by Barna and Kinnaman

The lastest books from Barna and Kinnaman, Churchless and You Lost Me, are must reads. I cannot put them down. The information is spot on and for our church very affirming.  For the last two years I have been leading the church I serve in the area of revitalization.  I have trained hundreds of pastors in this area. For me, it’s a three year commitment of revitalization. We just completed year one and we will begin year two January 1 of 2015.

The annual theme for the first year was, Step Up, Step In, Step Out.  Stronger is the theme for year two. We announced this past October the theme and added what we wanted to emphasize.  The emphasis for 2015 is that we want our church to; Think Biblically, Behave Biblically and Contextualize Biblical Teaching in Their Lives. Upon reading Barna and Kinnaman we were elated and affirmed. These books confirm what we suspected. Now, at this point we are just excited – we are still trying put solutions to perplexing situations.  We don’t have the answers – but at least we have a direction.

For us the excitement is all about the confirmation that we are not crazy. The work of revitalization isn’t as glamorous as a fast growing church plant.  Revitalization takes courage and persistence to patiently change old habits that are killing the church – all the while, as a pastor, being aware of the potential for growth and seeing the people that you could be reaching.

Stronger looks like this: (warning – very raw in content and thought – don’t look for a polished presentation)


We want our church people to….Think Biblically – Behave Biblically – Contextualize Biblical Teaching in their lives.

Goal: Equip followers of Christ to connect their faith in the world they live in; personal, family, work, digital, global.


Lifestyle: How can we be a catalyst for positive change while staying on track with our mission?

Inclusion: How will we deal with a culture that sees us as exclusive?

Cultural: How will we deal with life issues that conflict with core truths while holding to Biblical principles?

Community: How do we deal with each other in a social media world? How can we truly bring back fellowship and community? (how can we agreeably disagree? How can we unfriend and unfollow yet still have fellowship?)

Communication: How will we communicate the truths of the Bible to a culture that is not as open to a talking head?


-Mentoring and Apprenticeships (Samuel needing Eli’s help to hear the voice of God) – Jesus spent 3 years with 12 men

-Online discussions (custom web sites, Twitter)

-Involving and developing a broader base of people (younger to older)

-Prepare people not only life’s transactions but life’s transitions

-Build wisdom into daily life: Sermon series; Proverbial Living.  (Information is dirt cheap, lack of wisdom is costly)

-Build paths of partnership for expressions of faith

-Processes to help people become culture changers not culture avoiders

-Systems that not only teach about God but the reality of God in daily living

As you can see, it’s still raw and in process. Year three for us will be Bolder. Our prayer is that by year three we will have a grasp on solutions and make great progress in implementation.

Here is what I love the most:  For over twenty years I have fought the system of vision metrics: Buildings, Baptisms, Budgets.  I love it that an influential voice is finally saying we can and should measure our discipleship not by mass results but rather by the individual contextualization of the Scriptures in life.

I presented this notion to a denominational leader years ago and he responded honestly with love and understanding; “Ron, I get it and I too believe what you are saying, but that form of discipleship does not attract funding and support – church planting does.”  My denomination would rather pursue a marketable presentation of ministry rather than employ a new model desperately needed to turn the tide because it doesn’t turn heads and open up wallets. This was almost 15 years ago and just now the alarm is sounding – The Titanic is taking on water.

Churchless and You Lost Me are must reads for everyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ.

PS: Soon I hope to make our three year journey available to a group of 100 pastors.  You will receive sermons, worship sets, worship set design ideas, life group resources, staff meeting notes, leadership notes and lessons and so much more. Comment on this post if you would like to be one of the 100 pastors selected for this journey.