Monday, September 14

Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal

Open Reggie McNeal's new book Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church to any random page and find enough there to camp out in thought for a couple of hours.

If missional has been one of those fuzzy buzz-word terms that you keep hearing but don't know exactly what everyone is talking about, this book will more than clear up the matter for you like it did for me.

Reggie explains in the Introduction, "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"
He goes on to explain these shifts are not destinations but compass settings for moving you from doing church as "primarily a refuge, conservator, and institutional activity in a post-Christendom culture to being a risky, missionary, organic force in the increasingly pre-Christian world..."

These shifts will necessitate a new scorecard from that of the typical church way of measuring how many, how often, and how much. The new scorecard needs to find ways of measuring external focused ministry, people development efforts, and a kingdom-oriented leadership agenda.

There is so much packed into the 188 pages that it is hard to know where to jump in. Like I said previously, one can open the book to just about any random page and find plenty to chew on. To illustrate my point, a few moments ago I flipped open the book and put my finger on page 45:
[An] airport is a place of connection, not a destination. Its job is to help people get somewhere else. An airport-centric world of travel would be dull and frustrating, no matter how nice the airport is. When the church thinks it's the destination, it also confuses the scorecard. It thinks that if people are hovering around and in the church, the church is winning. The truth is, when that's the case, the church is really keeping people from...their real destination...The church is a connector, linking people to the kingdom life that God has for them. Substituting church activity as the preferred life expression is as weird as believing that airports are more interesting than the destinations they serve.
While I sensed that the book was targeted mainly towards the more traditional/institutional type churches, there is plenty within its pages to challenge all of us. I guess what most attracted me about this book is its subtitle: "Changing the Scorecard for the Church." What kinds of things does a missional church measure?

Page 117 gives only one of many lists, but will give the reader an idea of the huge shift Reggie is trying to get people to understand:
  • Number of people reporting improved marriages over time
  • Number of people reporting improved friendships over time
  • Number of people being mentored
  • Number of people serving as mentors
  • Number of people able to articulate life mission
  • Number of people serving other people in some venue
  • Number of people practicing intentional blessing strategy for those around them
  • Number of people growing in financial giving to kingdom causes
There are pages of these kinds of "new scorecards" covering areas like leadership, finances, calendar, facilities, technology, people, prayer. To begin to implement even 5% of the kinds of changes suggested would completely transform the church as we currently know her.

If you decide to read this book, I recommend getting yourself a yellow highlighter to mark all the passages you will want to remember. Here are a few of my favorites all coming from pages 54-57:

--Jesus followers believe that the way they demonstrate love and service will intrigue people to pursue getting to know the God who inspires such service.

--Our acts of service and love, not our oratorical brilliance and institutional success, will intrigue people with our message.

--Jesus followers live the truth; they don't just study it.

--The missionary church is made up of missionaries, who are playing the big game every day. They live their lives with the idea that they are on a mission trip.

--On mission trips, people focus on the work of God around them, alert to the Spirit's prompting, usually serving people in very tangible ways, often in ways that involve some sacrifice or even discomfort.

--Life on mission is more intentional and more integrated.

There are hundreds more just like these to begin to challenge the way we think about ourselves and our mission here on earth.

In summary, this is a book well worth reading for anyone focused upon being a follower of Jesus and seeking first His Kingdom. As Reggie puts it, "In a kingdom-oriented worldview, the target of God's redemptive love is the world, not the church (For God so loved the world, Jesus said; not 'for God so loved the church') This means that God is always at work in the world, not just in the church, prosecuting his redemptive mission."


Casey said...

Thanks for the review... now just need to get a copy and read it!

Tim Patterson said...

Good stuff Guy!