Content generously outlines status of Christian practices today. Statistician Barna comes through with another classic whose statistics are beyond dispute. A great read. Truth is that most of the 80% of churches on plateau or decline (most in latter) do not acknowledge this. Add to this that most churches hardly look for answers through books. Church members each year seem to be more and more satisfied. Another way of putting it: those who want more - leave. And seldom are they asked why they left by someone qualified to do so. Again, Barna's book is excellent. Ministers are not known to read numbers of books such as this. Change must come from members such as those reading this.
An adequate forcast of what is happening in our society concerning morality,or lack there of and where it is leading us to with all the new technologies and less desire to obtain REAL knowledge.A great read!
Futurecast is a book that should be in the hands of any pastor who seeks to grow his or her church. Let's face it: as society moves forward the church as a whole continues to become more archaic. We are less in-touch with the world around us. This is due to a number of factors, but for the most part, we fail to resonate with a world that is growing and developing faster than we are embracing it. George Barna's book offers tremendous insight into changing and evolving trends that the church should be aware of. It is full of stats and comparisons, but the content is amazingly interesting.
People in ministry need to be able to exegete the Scriptures and also to exegete the culture in which they seek to minister. Seeing where people are and taking an educated guess to where they will be is part of the second task. To that end, Barna's book is a helpful resource. It provides both statistical data in clearly defined categories and analysis of the data.
The book contains nine chapters, not counting the introduction and two appendices. The chapters are arranged categorically (e.g. family life, attitudes and values, etc.). The writing is fairly straightforward, and I enjoyed Barna's clarifications of some of the intricacies of evaluating statistical data (e.g., the difference between membership and attendance, pp. 178-9). He also does a nice job of developing helpful categories. For example, see Barna's distinctions related to church participation, i.e. unattached, intermittents, homebodies, blenders, conventionals (pp. 159-60).
There are times when I found the explanation a bit confusing. For example, concerning spiritual gifts Barna writes, "a large share of the Christian public (32 percent) remains either unaware of the existence of these capabilities or aware of the gifts but not cognizant of which ones they possess. Surprisingly, fewer Christians today are aware of the existence of spiritual gifts (68 percent) than was true ten or fifteen years ago (72 percent and 71 percent respectively)" (p. 168, italics mine). The confusion is apparently caused by emphasizing different numbers such as 32% are ignorant vs. 68% who are informed. While one can figure things out by doing the math, I found this unnecessarily confusing. Thankfully, such examples are few and far between.
Sprinkled throughout Futurecast are helpful bullet lists and tables. The two tables that I found most interesting were "critical shifts in values and attitudes" (p. 79) and "percentage of adults who believe these Bible stories are literally true" (p. 135). The latter will likely provide introductory material for numerous sermons and lessons. For those looking for introductory material, a topical index would have been helpful.
Overall, I appreciated Barna's work in Futurecast. It provides a snapshot of some of the significant and rapid changes and trends in society today. It is not and should not be the only source for exegeting our culture, but it is a helpful resource to that end.
My review copy was provided by Tyndale House Publishers.
Our world is constantly changing. The things once thought as pure science fiction are becoming a common day experience in our world today. With the iPhone, Androids, and other smart-phones; iPads and iPods; desktop computers down to mini notebook computers; and so much more, technology keeps advancing faster and faster each and every day. And it isn't even technology that is constantly changing; world views, philosophies, moral and religious beliefs, our life behaviors, and choices are as well. As these changes continue to occur many sit and scratch their heads and wonder what has happened. These realizations are what lead me to decide to read and review "Futurecast, what TODAY'S TRENDS mean for TOMORROW'S WORLD" by George Barna.
George Barna is a respected author and researcher in many circles, and has committed his life to researching out numerous trends in today's society. Having conducted many statistical polls of and on various topics he continues to pass on his findings to help whomever he can. I became most familiar with George Barna almost 10 years ago when he conducted a poll on what it means to be "born-again" working alongside Josh McDowell and was floored with his findings. Now George Barna has decided to write another book discussing a plethora of statistical findings so that people can take a look at the statistics and make a choice on their involvement in the future.
This book, although very interesting, requires a keen willingness to sit down and to truly read. It is possible to scan this book to look at the statistical findings, but to fully understand how these trends are shaping the future; one must be willing to put some work into this book. However, the person who will benefit the most from this book is a person who is willing to engage in the culture war.
Many of the chapters are very informative, and have some great information. However, what I found most beneficial about this book is that Mr. Barna does not just hand out statistic after statistic, but addresses each issue with a full court press. Also most pleasing to me was George Barna's willingness to issue a challenge in his final chapter, and speak the truth, that people who are involved can make a difference in directing the trend of our future.
All and all I would give this book a 5 out of 5. It takes a willingness to chew some meat, but the value of the information and the encouragement to get involved makes this book worth the read. Mr. Barna made a comment I've heard many times. "There are three types of people when it comes to the future: those who will watch it happen, those who will make it happen, and those who will wonder what happened. Which of those three types will you be?"
(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.")