Reggie McNeal’s book The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church invites intentional, devoted believers to examine what we do “in church” and why. Here are six question pairs that merit serious consideration and action by those who are of Christ and who operate at the grassroots level —whether in Restoration churches, mainline churches, nondenominational churches, or no institutional church at all.
1. The collapse of the church culture
- Wrong question: How do we do church better?
- Tough question: How do we deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity?
2. The shift from church growth to kingdom growth
- Wrong question: How do we grow this church?
- Tough question: How do we transform our community?
3. A new reformation: releasing God’s people
- Wrong question: How do we turn members into ministers?
- Tough question: How do we turn members into missionaries?
4. The return to spiritual formation
- Wrong question: How do we develop church members?
- Tough question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?
5. The shift from planning to preparation
- Wrong question: How do we plan for the future?
- Tough question: How do we prepare for the future?
6. The rise of apostolic¹ leadership
- Wrong question: How do we develop leaders for church work?
- Tough question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?
Roger Thoman comments,
I am particularly struck with #4 and the way we have churned out “members” en masse over the past thirty years rather than active, passionate, intentional, risk-taking followers of Jesus. The church has paid the price! We have too often become comfortable rather than comforters, guardians of doctrines and traditions rather than advancers of the Kingdom, externally religious rather than internally passionate. . . .
¹ Presumably, McNeal refers here to leaders in the apostolic/biblical tradition, not new apostles in the same sense as the 1st-century ones.