Monday, November 30, 2009

Missional Renaissance: Introduction

I’ll catch up later on all the books I’ve read over the last few months, but failed to blog. I want to start working through the most recent book I’ve completed, Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church by Reggie McNeal. It is a very practical, challenging book. I’ll sketch the intro during this post and lay out the rest of the book over the next couple weeks.

Missional is a buzzword, but it is even more. McNeal believes it is the largest shift in the church since the Reformation. It is difficult to define, but McNeal italicizes: “Missional is a way of living, not an affiliation or activity” (p. xiv). The missional church looks differently at the way the church engages the world. The shifts that we’ll flesh out are a shift from internal to external ministry focus, program development to people development, and church-based to kingdom-based leadership. These are “not destinations; they are compass settings” (p. xvi).

And how we know whether we’re headed the right direction will change how we “keep score” to know if we’re being successful. For instance, right now churches determine success by the number of attendees, the offering, and how many people are serving in the church (or something like these). The missional church has a different scorecard. It will focus on how people are growing, how many hungry children are being fed, or how many inmates are mentored to mainstream back into life. Sometimes this is more difficult to track, but McNeal believes this is the new way.

These three shifts (and how we track success) means church is going to look really different in many cases. There are some key elements that contribute to these changes. First is “The Emergence of the Altruism Economy” – think Bono, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, or TOMS shoes (see picture). People are moved by giving to others and the church needs to move from being a recipient of generosity to a vehicle of generosity. The world is not impressed with “successful” churches. They want organizations that make a positive difference in the world. The church needs to focus externally.

Next, “The Search for Personal Growth.” Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life sold millions because people want their lives to matter. Churches need to take life-change into consideration rather than program development. If going through the programs don’t actually affect life change, so much for the programs. People want to grow themselves and they want to see those less fortunate grow as well. I’m trying to do this in one of my mentoring relationships right now. Asking, “Where do you want to be in six months?” And then we’ll try to figure out how to get him there.

Finally, “The Hunger for Spirituality” is where religion is not clergy-dominated and expressed in sacred time and space, but in all aspects of one’s life. The idea is that the church should be present everywhere (that’s Kingdom-based thinking) rather than the church just being a place. We know this, we say it, but a missional mindset has no substitute for it.

Just reviewing my notes in the margins, I’m re-challenged by this book. I’m looking forward to getting into it again.

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