Monday, October 09, 2006

More on "The Present Future" by Reggie McNeal

Since Reggie McNeal is coming to Tulsa to do a day-long workshop (see post below), and because I love his book "The Present Future: Six Tough Questions For The Church", I wanted to give folks a little more taste of it ahead of time. I must say that the book was published in 2003, and already to me it seems a little dated though very much still current. What I mean by that is the future he talks about that is headed toward us, rather than us headed toward the future, certainly seems to have happened perhaps quicker than he or any thought. There have been so many books and developments regarding church and emerging cultures in just the past three years. But the book is a good intro into these changes, particularly it seems to me for existing and established churches looking for transformation, perhaps moreso at this time at least than those looking at church planting or multiplication. I think it will lead you in that direction, but there's a lot of good here to raise with people within churches that it will lead to health in a number of ways.

So, before we get to the six tough questions, here are the assumptions about church that he challenges:
1. If you build the perfect church (the way we think about church), they will come.
2. Growing your church will automatically make a difference in the community.
3. Developing better church members will result in greater evangelism.
4. The church needs more workers (for church work)
5. Church involvement results in discipleship.
6. Better planning will get you where you want to go (in terms of missional effectiveness).

The questions:
1. Not how do we do church better, but "How do we deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity?" (for those of you in my reading audience who have perhaps already deconverted from Christianity to Churchianity, this goes for you too--how do you deconvert from Churchianity to, so to speak, the Spirit of Freedom?).
2. Not how do we grow our church, but "How Do We Transform Our Community? How do we Hit the Streets with the Gospel?"
3. Not how do we turn members into ministers, but "how do we turn members into missionaries?"
4. Not how do we develop church members, but "how do we develop followers of Jesus"?
5. Not how do we plan for the future, but "how do we prepare for the future?"
6. Not how do we develop leaders for church work, but "how do we develop leaders for the Christian movement"?

A few closing thoughts and some of my favorite quotes from McNeal:
It isn't over for the institutional church, but it should be if the church continues to lose its mission.
The last thing we need is a postmodern church. We need a church for postmodern people.
"I believe Jesus is the hope of the world. I believe God has called out a people to make sure the world knows this. These people are the church. Jesus has promised that hell will not be able to stand against it. I just wish hell were the problem."