We are all on this journey of life. We are all looking for purpose and meaning. In his book, Maximum Faith, George Barna identifies 10 stops along the journey of life toward complete spiritual transformation. One of the things that really drew me to these stops was the fact that Barna explicitly differentiated between “stops” and “steps.” These stops identified are not prescriptive. This is not a formula that one must follow to achieve enlightenment or ultimate peace in life. Rather these are spiritual waypoints that Barna merely observed in people. They do not flow directly out of scripture, nor are they specific commandments that God tells us to follow. Hopefully these 10 stops can help you identify where you are along this often crazy journey of life.
Ignorant | Indifferent | Concern | Confession | Religion | Discontent | Brokenness | Surrender | Intimacy With God | Profound Love for Others
“Everyone’s life starts out at the same stop on the journey. What happens after that is completely up to us. But the research indicates that the ultimate journey may take us from the beginning through a total of ten stops on our adventure toward maturity in Christ. Here is a tour of the ten stops on the journey to wholeness.” – George Barna
1 – IGNORANCE
We are all born into a state of ignorance regarding the concept of sin or right and wrong. While we are all born with an intrinsic divine image stamped on us it takes time for us to realize and become aware of the seeming inherent sin or evil that lurks around us. Few people remain in this state beyond their elementary years.
There comes a point in our life when we are aware of the sin problem in and around us but we really are not too worried about it. We fail to see how it directly affects us and therefore do not give it much thought or attention.
3 – CONCERN
In this stop we become uneasy about the “what if” possibilities — as in “what if sin does offend God and it impacts my quality of life?” Or “what if my Christian friends are right — there is a God, sin ticks Him off, and I could spend the rest of eternity in Hell because of it?” Fear motivates us to explore further and to seek solutions regarding sin.
4 – CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS
It is at this stop that we confess our sins, invite Christ into our lives, and experience God’s forgiveness. Many people see this as the pinnacle of our spiritual life and they stop here or plateau. However, others will view this stop as a point of departure into a deeper spirituality and will seek new transformative experiences with Christ.
5 – RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY
Simply put, this stop is church. However, it is not limited to attending church on a weekly basis. Bible studies and Christian education will most often fall under this stop. Here we see an intentional effort toward spiritual growth, primarily in a community of faith.
6 – DISCONTENT
Studies show that after about 10-15 years of religious activity most people slip into a bit of a spiritual coma. Their faith becomes more about routine and rituals and the meaning that was found in religious activities no longer has the same affect. We ask questions like, “Is this all there is?” We will most often get really bored with the whole church thing while in this stop.
7 – BROKENNESS
This of course is the most uncomfortable of the stops. But it is where deep soul work finally begins to take place. George Barna writes, “Confession is one thing; feeling and dealing with the weight of what the confessed sins have done to their relationship with a holy and loving God is another.” This takes shape through a myriad of different ways. It could manifest itself for some in things like failed relationships, moral failures, or various life tragedies, while for others might not be as extreme and look more like a stolen car, a broken leg, or a D on a report card. It is here where we find ourselves finally admitting that we are truly and utterly powerless over sin.
8 – SURRENDER AND SUBMISSION
This stop can best be summed up with the image of floating. After journeying through brokenness we are finally brought to a place where we literally cannot do anything. It is here that we experience for the first time radical dependence and trust in God.
9 – PROFOUND INTIMACY WITH AND LOVE FOR GOD
There are not words. This is something that is experienced and is in fact a mystery. This stop is marked by an intense peace and joy and contentment.
10 – PROFOUND COMPASSION AND LOVE FOR OTHERS
We are able to love others sacrificially, with a love that does not need anything in return. This type of compassion and love is so radical that it will make the world scratch their head over.