Are You “ALL IN?” – Maximum Faith – Live Like Jesus by George Barna

“ALL IN….”

Barna, George Maximum Faith – Live Like Jesus, Metaformation, Inc. Ventura, CA & Strategenius Group, LLC New York, NY and WHC Publishing, Glendora, CA Copyright 2011 by George Barna.

Richard Foster has written: We need voices of dissent that point to another way, creative models that take exception to the givens of society. Obviously, prophetic simplicity runs the risk of excess; but the danger is no greater than the excess of the status quo.[i] Enter George Barna who takes his seat at the table of The Tournament of Christian Spiritual Transformation. For Barna, this is an elimination tournament with billions of players – the outcome is eternal.

In Maximum Faith – Live Like Jesus George Barna doesn’t pull any punches;

“the research indicates that only a handful of people make serious progress on the journey to wholeness.” (p.8) “Of all the adults who make a profession of faith in Christ – that is, they become “born again” – there is surprisingly little to show for the effort. On numerous occasions Jesus talked about the fact that you can tell Christians by the spiritual fruit they bear, but the data suggest that just one out of every ten adults who accept Jesus as their Savior make any substantial changes in their spiritual routines.” (pp.25-26).

Barna is ALL IN

Other than summarize and the data that Barna has derived and scoured, Barna has decided the to call the bluff of the purported players at the table of the ‘Christian community.’ This book is Barna’s “ALL IN.” He’s pushed ALL his chips to the center of the table. He’s not sitting back smugly waiting for your bet or your bluff. There are tears flowing down this man’s face. He’s sobbing. It’s authentically heartfelt. His arms are lovingly outstretched toward all the players at the table –  begging us to go ALL IN with him.

Examine Your Hand

Barna asks pointed questions like a well informed odds maker; “So if God provides us with a plan (in scripture) and the power (through the Holy Spirit) to become a full transformed person, why then is it that more than 80 out of 100 Americans call themselves Christian, yet only 1 out of every 100 are broken, surrendered, submitted and loving?” (p.36) — He’s asking each player to take another look at our hand – whattya got?… Really…?

The second section of the book revolves around Jennifer – a character Barna has developed to illustrate the real-life application of the principles and process he is recommending. He is forthright, pointing out;Keep in mind that transformation is a process, not a simple formula that produces the desired outcome every time.” (pp. 155-156)….examine your hand.

Calling The Bluff

In the third section of the book, Barna demands that we “Roll Up Our Sleeves.” He implores us to consider the implications of maintaining a straight faced bluff with God:The emptiness or frustration you feel reflects your failure to partner with God to grasp the meaning, purpose, wisdom, character and fulfillment He intends for you to have. Don’t instigate (or continue to maintain) a Watergate-sized cover up.” (p.157).

Getting Real

Leaning forward over the poker table, Barna lifts his dark glasses from his eyes. They are filled with tears. He sorrowfully states the following:

“It’s time to acknowledge that the institutional, programmatic approach to facilitating true faith is as broken as it can get – much more broken than the people being numbered as God’s chosen ones.” (p.185). “Programs don’t change people – God does.” (p.190).

New Rules

Barna is adamant that “tinkering with the current popular approaches that have proven to be inept at producing transformation will continue to put people in harm’s way.” Translation: The current game of Christian spiritual transformation produces vastly more losers than winners.

In 2001, co-authors George Barna and Mark Hatch made the following written prediction in their book, Boiling Point: Monitoring Cultural Shifts in 21st Century ChristianityAround mid-decade we expect to see a nascent grassroots movement from within the Christian community to reintroduce people to the idea of living in accordance with a biblical worldview and discovering how to get there,” including values and lifestyles that reflect the same.[ii) Well, it’s well past “mid-decade” and the research indicates that the odds of playing the game of Christian transformation by the same old rules – continues to produce a lousy outcome for all concerned.

For George Barna in Maximum Faith – Live Like Jesus, this is serious business. This is no game. The outcomes are eternal. George Barna is ALL IN. Yet, uncharacteristically, he reaches for the pile of chips he has pushed to the center of the table and distributes equal stacks of chips to all at the table. His desire is for all to win. He doesn’t want your chips.

He reclines in his seat, having freely given away all his chips and concludes with the following heartfelt invitation: “A revolution is built one person at a time. It starts with you. If you want to make a difference in the world, start with yourself.” (p.198).

It’s your call….

I was blessed by this book.


[i Foster, Richard J. Freedom of Simplicity, HarperSanFrancisco, San Francisco, CA Copyright 1981 by Richard J. Foster, p. 135.

[ii] Barna, George & Hatch, Mark Boiling Point – Monitoring Cultural Shifts in 21st Century Christianity, Published by Regal Books, A Division of Gospel Light, Ventura, CA Copyright © 2001, p. 94

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