George Barna identifies the seven faith tribes that make up the American identity; Casual Christians, Captive Christians, American Jews, Mormons, Pantheists, Muslims, and Skeptics. He delves deeply into these tribes and outlines the way they think, what they value, and why they matter.
I was especially struck by his description of the casual Christians. These are the “Christians” that show up to church (usually), but that is about as deep as it goes. They don’t desire closeness with God, they don’t really spend any time in personal devotions, they are more concerned with the material (wealth, fame, health, etc.), and self-improvement.
A lot of churches/pastors seem to cater to this Christian more than try to grow them to become a Captive Christian (the Christian whose main goal in life is Christ like-ness, not earthly pursuits). The casual Christian is the one who is happy to attend the church that mainly preaches “how to…” sermons, the preachers that put on a motivational seminar every Sunday. Those preachers are the ones that attract large crowds of casuals.
The main point of the book is that, although there are all these different belief systems that make up America, there is common ground that we all share. In order for the American people to take back our country, and return it to the greatness it once was we need to rally around our 20 shared values:
1. Represent the truth well.
2. Develop inner peace and purity.
3. Seek peace with others.
4. Demonstrate wisdom.
5. Be forgiving.
6. Practice self-restraint.
7. Get yourself together before criticizing.
8. Invest in young people.
9. Respect life.
10. Treat others how you want to be treated.
11. Be a good citizen.
12. Justify people’s respect.
13. Avoid harmful behavior.
14. Honor the elderly.
15. Be generous.
16. Do not judge or condemn others.
17. Be mutually respectful of human rights.
18. Cultivate civility.
19. Belong to a caring community.
20. Facilitate basic skills.
With the great emphasis placed on leadership, it is easy to forget how to follow. However, in order to maintain the strength of America we need to learn to support our leaders, by following them. Twelve commitments of great followers are:
1. Know what you’re looking for in a leader.
2. Live and die for the vision.
3. Refuse to settle for anything but the best.
4. Provide constructive feedback.
5. Hold leaders to the highest reasonable standards – and expect them to do the same with you.
6. Always place community interest above self-interest.
7. Be proud of your leaders.
8. Become a great team player.
9. Perform your duties with excellence.
10. Add value all the time.
11. Focus on the future.
12. Keep growing personally.
In the later chapters of the book, Barna outlines how we must recommission the media (tell them what we want, not just suffer through mindless entertainment, and bad news) and step up the families contribution (be the parents, stop outsourcing our kids, stop using the excuse of, “I do the best I can”).
He presents a vision for restoring America. Barna reminds us that through adversity Americans have always come out on top.
“What we need in the United States is not division, what we need in the Unite States is not hatred, what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black…tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” -Sen. Robert Kennedy, on the assassination of Martin Luther King.