Monday, May 01, 2006

The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church

I was lent The Present Future by Doug Sanders, the Director of Ministries at Otter Creek, after I read about it on the web somewhere. I'm always interested in books about the church, also known as ecclesiology. I'm at a point right now where I'm very interested in how a congregation is practicing the action of helping its members become disciples. Now, a lot of what I read in this book was not unfamiliar to me from all the other reading I've done in the last cople of years, but this book is definitely written for church leaders.

So, the six tough questions. Well, first off, they're not really questions, although the tough questions are within the chapter itself. They're new realities that the author, Reggie McNeal has identified. McNeal, by the way, is the director of leadership development for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
  1. New Reality Number One - The Collapse of the Church Culture
    Tough Question: How do we convert from Churchianity to Christianity?
    Totally on board with this one. One of the ideas that McNeal talks about here is that churches have become more like clubs than outposts of the Kingdom of God, which leads to...

  2. New Reality Number Two - The Shift from Church Growth to Kingdom Growth
    Tough Question: How do we transform our community? (How do we hit the streets with the Gospel?)
    Again, totally on board with this too. It's been amazing to me the way that thinking has grown in this area.

  3. New Reality Number Three - A New Reformation: Releasing God's People
    Tough Question: How do we turn members into Missionaries?
    This is where the missional stuff really started. The idea here is that if people change from being club members to being missionaries, what does that mean for the church, specifically does that mean fewer programs at the church building and more in the community?

  4. New Reality Number Four - The Return to Spiritual Formation
    Tough Question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?
    Here's the great irony of the new thinking to me. On one hand, a lot of the new thinking is very communal in its nature and rightfully so. However, there's a very introspective aspect to it and this is something that congregations need to address. It's a very interesting ideology, but it's amazing how this is playing out. There was a lot in this chapter about learning and shifting away from a classroom model.

  5. New Reality Number Five - The Shift from Planning to Preparation
    Tough Question: How do we prepare for the future?
    Here's where the book started to lose me. This is when it got into vision and values and that kind of thing doesn't interest me very much. I realize that some people have to prepare and think about those things, but that's just not my bag (baby).

  6. New Reality Number Six - The Rise of Apostolic Leadership
    Tough Question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?
    Again, another section that really seems to be geared more toward congregation leaders, rather than laypeople like me. I think people will find some value about new models for leadership interesting, but just not me.
I think this is a pretty good book for current church congregation leaders. It envelops a lot of the new thinking about church and people who might not read Brian McLaren or some of the other emerging church thinkers. Not a bad read.


Michele said...


I have to say that upon reading your blog, I am very interested in reading this book. These realities expressed and questions posed seem to me to be core issues and complex in practice. Thanks for this. I look forward to reading more.

CL said...

Hey Phil,
I've read this one about three times and love it. I think it is a must read for church leaders. I think the values he brings out and the need for shifts in the way we view and do church are vital really to teh future of the church in general. I will say it has totally affected our entire leadership where I am as we all read it and it has really helped us to move beyond some of the same old sameold aroung here. Good stuff!

Ontario Emperor said...

The elders at my church are using this book for a study. We've just started the book, so I'm haven't ascertained yet whether the book has substance, or is just a lot of trendy wind. So far it sounds OK, though.

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