Thursday, May 14, 2009

Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church, by Reggie McNeal

Below in a post I have incorporated some of the questions asked by Reggie McNeal in his new book and applied them to our missional faith community in the Turley, North Tulsa area. In this post I will do a broad sweep of the major sections of the book and future posts I will lift out sections of interest. If you go back, though to a post I made here on October 27, 2006, you will see a very early edition of what became the book as I blogged on a workshop I was in led by McNeal. Here is the link. It was a seminal post and helped keep me moving along the missional path. I would put this book right up there with The Shaping of Things To Come by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost (and other books by them especially Exiles, The Forgotten Ways, ReJesus), and The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne (along with The New Monasticism book), and Organic Church by Neil Cole, Emerging Church by Gibbs and Bolger, and of course the works of Brandon Scott, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, the New Paul Perspective books, and our archives of UU Christian Journals as stepping stones on this path....Looking for one book for the Summer new to read about the church? Make it this one.

"The rise of the missional church is the single biggest development in Christianity since the Reformation."

"Going missional will require that you make three shifts, both in your thinking and in your behavior: From internal to external in terms of ministry focus; from program development to people development in terms of core activity; from church-based to kingdom-based in terms of leadership agenda."

"These three shifts call for a new scorecard for the missional church. The typical church scorecard (how many, how often, how much) doesn't mesh with a missional view of wwhat the church should be monitoring in light of its mission in the world. The current scorecard rewards church activity and can be filled in without any reference to the church's impact beyond itself."

"A church in Ohio passes up the option to purchase a prime piece of real estate that would allow it to build a facility to house its multisite congregation. Instead, it votes not to spend $50 million on church facilities but to invest the money in community projects...New expressions of church are emerging. One pastor has left a tall=steepled church to organize a simple neighborhood gathering of spiritual pilgrims. He is working at secular employment so that he doesn't have to collect monies to support a salary; rather, he and his colleagues are investing in people on their own street....Another entrepeneurial spiritual leader has opened up a community center with a church tucked inside of it. He has a dozen other ministries opeerating in the shared space." [Hmm. that last sentence sounds familiar to what we are doing.]

"The missional church renaissance is not occurring in a vacuum. Just as in the fifteenth century, larger social forces are at work that conspire to create conditions ripe for this kind of development. The confluence of three significant cultural phenomena is fueling the current collaboration and creativity: 1. the emergence of the altruism economy; 2. the search for personal growth; 3. the hunger for spiritual vitality."

Missional shift 1 from internal to external focus: missional does not, does not, does not, does not (my emphasis of his point, hence no quotes) mean starting community outreach programs; those can actually defeat the missional shift needed to actually enter in and mutually transform the community of which you are a part. "Externally focused ministry leaders take their cues from the environment around them in terms of needs and opportunities. They look for ways to bless and to serve the communities where they are located [and I would say they relook at where they are located]. Much of their calendar space, financial resources, and organizational energy is spent on people who are not [and may never be] a part of their organization...attendance may actually go down if people are released to mission.

Missional shift 2 from program to people: The typical clergyperson is groomed to do project management (yes, even the sermon is a project) (teach the Bible--or New Member Class--manage the church, grow the business)....At one point McNeal says that the early church was not an ideal church, and was full of problems, or else the New Testament would have been a lot shorter, but the A.D. 30 leadership, the pre-Constantine expression of Christian spirituality is more missional while the later expression is more programmatic, more imperial....The movement founded by Jesus was largely a marketplace phenomena, an organic connection among people who were experiencing a way of life together. The early days of the movement focused on simple teachings of Jesus, with particular attention to living lives of sacrifice and service to one another and to one's neighbor.

Missional shift 3 from church based to kingdom based.: "Missional leaders are thinking differently about what church could be and even should be. The difference in their thinking is measured not in degree but in kind...from primarily concentrating on institutional maintenance to developing an incarnational influence, kingdom impact more than church impact [kingdom refers to Jesus's kingdom of God sayings that contrasted God with Caeser's kingdom; substitute your words of choice if kingdom bothers you, or live deeply in and through the language and see what happens--RR]...

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