Barna calls them “revolutionaries.” A friend of mine prefers “Jesus follower.” Your pastor might call them partially apostate. Whatever the label, there is a rising tide of Evangelicals who are pulling out of the institutional structures that have defined what it has meant to be born-again over the past few decades. Do I know this scientifically? I think there is ample evidence. The recent survey that has been highlighted here and elsewhere is just one example, Barna’s research is another.
For me, probably more importantly, I know it through people. People that I know and love are simply wanting something other than the “generic church model” that has been popularized by American Evangelicalism (worship band, video, special song, giving, sermon, worship band). The whole idea of “going” to church instead of “being” the church is one of the more regular conversations in my week. Those that haven’t walked away from a traditional church are certainly thinking about it.
So what are these people? Is Barna’s idea correct – are they revolutionaries? I think there is a better term based on the folks I know: Mere Christians. They aren’t “members” and they don’t subscribe to other categories of spiritual affiliation. They don’t want to be labeled as a part of a denomination or a part of some mega church’s new association of churches. They just want to be, well… disciples of Christ.
C.S. Lewis titled his book, “Mere Christianity,” because it deals with the simple truths of the Christian faith. Without the negative history, the systems of theology, or the trappings of modernity (or post-modernity, or post-post-modernity). Strip away the culture of Evangelicalism, the sophistication of the methodologies, and the latent hierarchy of “elder rule” and what you have left is rather “mere.”
What’s the next “big thing” in Christianity?
It just might be “mere Christianity.”