A New and Right Spirit: Creating an Authentic Church in a Consumer Culture
In a postmodern culture shaped by baby boomer values and marked by a consumerist approach to nearly everything, it’s little wonder that there is much confusion about who and what the church is supposed to be in the 21st century. According to Pastor Rick Barger, “the church too often comes off, or is perceived as, some sort of spiritual version of a community recreation center, simply offering up programs and experiences to meet people’s needs.” In this contemporary situation, congregations are increasingly put in the position of offering a deal (membership in exchange for salvation), a cause (becoming a sort of religious activist organization), or a service (playing chaplain for life transitions). To many people, joining a church is simply the “icing on the cake” to complement their already full lives.
In A New and Right Spirit,
Barger argues passionately for congregations to reexamine what it means to be an “authentic church” in a culture where authenticity is hard to come by. He demonstrates the pitfalls of technical solutions to congregational problems and shows the way to making adaptive change. As the key to congregational transformation he boldly reclaims and lifts up an ecclesiological vision of the church as a “witness to the resurrection.” Recognizing the spiritual needs of a success-oriented society, he exhorts leaders to turn away from the story of our culture and to return to the story of the church, which is grounded in Christ and the resurrection. Driven by that authentic story, the church becomes a powerful witness to God’s love for all and an effective minister to the needs of the world. Foreword by Mark Allan Powell.
Praise for the Book
“The forms of an old church are passing away, but the new church is in bud, a church that, if Barger is taken seriously, isn’t so much an invention as an inventory of the ancient and authentic church. This old-new church is being built by a few DNA diggers, discoverers, and dreamers. Rick Barger is one of those few who show us how to be part of the digging and dreaming.”—Leonard Sweet
“Rick Barger is a master pastor who has created an authentic congregation that’s lively, growing, and fruitful despite its location in the neighborhood shaken by the Columbine shootings. Now he tells us how to create such a faith community. Here’s a step-by-step way to a church with a new and right spirit.”—William H. Willimon
“Rick Barger links the creation of an authentic church in our consumer culture to the cultivation of a right spirit. This spirit is what people notice first at Abiding Hope—not programs or mission directives, but a spirit of life that arises from what God did on Easter morning. The enthusiasm is contagious; the right spirit spreads.”—Mark Allan Powell
About the Author
Rick Barger is lead pastor at Abiding Hope Lutheran Church in Littleton, Colorado, which he has led from its infancy to its current status as one of the largest and fastest-growing congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the founder of Abiding Hope's Transformational Leadership Academy.
Alban No. AL296
paper, 154 pages
($14.40 for members)