The Present Future

Originally posted on 19 April 2005

I am currently reading a very significant book, “The Present Future” by Reggie Mcneal (Buy it at Kalahari.net or Amazon.co.uk).

He argues in the book that there are six wrong questions that churches ask, and suggests six questions we should be asking in their place. In each chapter, he outlines the problem, a solution, and then gives a biblical and cultural contextual reason for his suggestion. Briefly, here are the six wrong and right questions:

WRONG QUESTION TOUGH NEW QUESTION
How do we do church better? How do we deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity? (How do we redfine ourselves around ‘mission’ rather than ‘club’?)
How do we grow this church? How do we get them to come to us? How do we transform our community? How do we hit the streets with the gospel?
How do we turn members into ministers? How do we turn members into missionaries?
How how do we develop church members? How do we develop followers of Jesus?
How do we plan for the future? How do we prepare for the future?
How do we develop leaders for church work? How do we develop leaders for the Christian Movement?

Here are some extracts from the introduction…

“[The church] has largely forsaken its missional covenant with God to be a part of kingdom expansion. It has, instead, substituted its own charter of church as a clubhouse where religious people hang out with other people who think, dress, behave, vote, and believe like them…. I want to help you by giving you ways of starting conversations that might lead you out of church captivity and into the adventure you anticipated…. Church leaders have got to start working on better questions then we’ve been fooling with for the last half of the 20th century….

In my observation, most church leaders or pre-occupied with the wrong questions. If you solve the wrong problems precisely, what have you accomplished? You have wasted a lot of energy and perhaps fooled yourself that you have done something significant….

This is not a how-to book. It will frustrate those looking for a “model” for doing church. I believe the search for models can often short-circuit a significant part of a leader’s journey into obedience to God. The Bible is not a book of models; it is a record of radical obediences of people who listened and responded to the direction of God for their lives…. [we need] people who operate from a well thought out approach so they will know why they are doing what they are doing, not just copying someone else’s cool idea….

My life calling is to be a missionary to the church…. Many, if not most, church members have never experienced missional living. They’ve just experienced church.”

I cannot tell you how highly I recommend this book. Written by a Southern Baptist (just for the record), it is an exceptionally challenging book that will force you to think about why you do church and what your church does. His over arching challenge is to stop doing church with a focus on church members, and start doing church with a focus on the community. It is powerful stuff!!

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