I was pleasantly surprised to see the announcement of George Barna’s new book, Maximum Faith: Live Like Jesus, on the Barna Group website. I say pleasantly surprised not because I expect George to call me every time before he publishes a book (an advance copy and a box of chocolates is certainly sufficient), but rather because the topic of George’s book and the topic of my new book, The Whole Life Offering: Christianity as Philanthropy overlap so delightfully:
Six years after beginning what he assumed would be a relatively typical research process that sought to better understand how God transforms people’s lives, researcher George Barna discovered that he had tackled a deeply challenging and amazingly revealing journey. The product of his effort was the ability to identify some of the developmental processes, experiences, and obstacles that are common across the lives of Americans of all backgrounds. He contends that while the details of people’s developmental story differ, everyone is on a spiritual journey and there is sufficient similarity in those journeys that we can describe a normative life path – a map that can help people make greater progress if their goal is to become more Christ-like.
There are even some similarities to my first book, Coach Your Champions, that are worth noting–like the “normative life path” part. In Coach Your Champions we lay out the idea of a “champion map,” laying out a trajectory enabling the champion to grow to fullness in Christ in the cause, by the power of the Holy Spirit. (And check out these two previous blog posts from our site here and here, since they nicely cinch up this topic.)
In the “I couldn’t agree with you more, George” Department, I like this quote in particular from the book announcement on the Barna site:
Every person is on a spiritual journey of some sort. The value of the new research, according to Barna, is that most people who consider themselves to be Christian, regardless of their level of spiritual maturity, are entangled in more of a circular journey than a consistently progressive route. While the journey orchestrated by God is not always strictly linear, it has discernible destination points along the way, and a clearly identifiable end point that followers of Christ may partner with the Holy Spirit to reach before they die.
The “more of a circular journey” reminds me of my April 2009 post entitled Who Needs a Map, where I wrote:
I’m reminded of a line of questioning I receive frequently from ministries:
Do I really need to use a coaching plan form when I meet with a champion? Isn’t it less mechanistic if I just wing it and rely on the Holy Spirit’s direction?
Only use a coaching plan form with champions you actually want to see grow. For champions you don’t mind seeing go around and around in circles beeping their horns and chasing their taillights like Shriners in a parade, no coaching plan is necessary.
It appears from the info on the book on Barna’s site (I didn’t yet receive my advance copy with the box of chocolates, sadly, so I’ve had to plunk down the $15.20 plus shipping from all the way over here in Korea) that George and I prescribe quite different–though I suspect hardly incompatible–paths forward for folks responding to the call to fullness in Christ.
And toss in a copy of Coach Your Champions, too, just to be safe. (Oops. So much for mature.)