George Barna, founder of the Barna Research Group, issued nine challenges for American Christianity in 2002. Here is a paraphrase of his nine challenges along with how a church in Nashville, Tennessee, The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship Center, is attempting to meet those challenges.
1) Worship is “same old same old.” At Berry Street we have a different worship leader each Sunday. They come from a variety of backgrounds, musical styles, and ethnic groups. They are encouraged to flow in the Spirit and we never know each week how worship will go. It is always different and usually fresh and exciting.
2) Evangelicals are toning down their theological beliefs. We still believe in the Gospel and its power and seek to stand on God’s Word no matter what.
3) Evangelical churches are still mostly segregated by race. However, Berry Street is multi-racial, close to 50-50 black and white with a bit of other ethnic backgrounds.
4) Many Christians don’t take the Bible seriously. Our goal at Berry Street is not just to study the Bible, but to actually follow and obey it in our daily lives.
5) American Christianity has no built-in cost. Berry Street is non-traditional. We don’t have one-person sermons. Instead, we seek to follow I Corinthians 14:26 and allow people to participate and to openly share as led by the Spirit. This causes some people to be uncomfortable and makes it cost something to do church this way.
6) Expression of the supernatural is not allowed in the Sunday worship meeting. At Berry Street, we begin our Sunday meetings by asking God to do whatever He wants to do and then we seek to follow and obey the Spirit. Many amazing things happen each Sunday that can only be attributed to the supernatural working of God.
7) American Christianity is not prepared for the changes that Gen Y will bring to the church. However, at Berry Street, we are open to imput and leadership from young adults and are eager to learn from them.
8) Churches tend to compete with rather than cooperate with each other. At Berry Street we encourage people to be led by the Spirit and to be involved in whatever church He leads them to. We want to work with other churches.
9) There is a lack of good leaders. However, open participation, as led by the Spirit, produces amazing leadership qualities in people. We are seeing people become outstanding leaders, right in front of our eyes.
Come visit us on Sunday mornings at 10:45: The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship Center, 225 Berry St., Nashville, 37207.