More of The Present Future
I mentioned yesterday that I meet with a group of Episcopal clergy to discuss the future of the church and how we can better prepare for the changes brought about by our changing cultural landscape. That group has read and just discussed The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church by Reggie McNeal. Here are some more quotes from the book itself:
The deal is this: we have assumed that if people come to church often enough they will grow. We've got to be much more intentional than this.
Let me ask you: If the world could be changed through conferences and seminars, wouldn't it have happened a long time ago? We don't need a conference on prayer. We need people to pray!
I can tell you within minutes of arriving on a church campus whether or not a guiding vision is operative, Does the landscaping look like it's been left up to God to take care of? Does anyone greet me when I enter? Are staff members begging for volunteers? (I don't mean recruiting—that goes on in organizations with vision. I mean begging, badgering, cajoling, guilting people into service.) Are lackluster or mediocre efforts expended on ushering, singing, custodial services, teaching, signage, and so on?
I know plenty of churches that have capitalized on their strengths in the face of glaring weaknesses. In fact, their strength is what fills in their brand content, gives them ministry identity, and distinguishes them from the pack.
The key is the presence of mission. Missionless religion that calls itself Christianity is an affront to God, however it styles itself.Basically, he sees that the institutional church, which is about and for the institution, is dying out. In a postmodern culture, fewer and fewer people will be interested in supporting the institution for its own sake. However, he remains convinced that the mission of God in the world begun in Jesus, will continue and will prevail. He is against churchianity and for a return to Christianity, which he feels will be more like the book of Acts than recent years of church history.
That's his take. As I have been big on saying that we need to set about BEING the Body of Christ, and emphasized the mission of the church as serving our community in Jesus' name and so spreading the Gospel beyond our walls, I tend to agree with him. What do y'all think?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Missionary