Thursday, February 7, 2008

Continuing Review of: The Present Future by Reggie McNeal

Back in June, Rik Maxedon, pastor of North Church, asked me what three books have had the most impact on me. I named a few, but it really caught me off guard. I recently got to see Reggie McNeal at the MO State Evangelism conference and I remembered how influential his book, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church, was on me. In fact, after I read it and saw myself in the book, I was out of full time church ministry within 4 months. I am going to be writing about my reactions to the book.


Reggie states that this book was written to help church leaders by giving us ways of starting conversations that might lead us out of church captivity and into the adventure that we anticipated, that is the true mission of God and the abundant life that it produces.

Who is this book not for? It is not for those who are content with the way things are. It is not for those just hanging on to their church jobs because they don’t know what else to do. Nobody wants to admit that this describes them, but it describes more of us that we would like to admit.

McNeal challenges several assumptions that are found typically among church leaders:

  • If you build the perfect church (they way we normally think about church), they will come.
  • Growing your church will automatically make a difference in the community.
  • Developing better church members will result in greater evangelism.
  • The church needs more workers (for church work).
  • Church involvement results in discipleship.
  • Better planning will get you where you want to go (in terms of missional effectiveness.)

McNeal targets three groups of church leaders that he wants to help with this book:

Congregational leaders who get it and are growing restless for something to happen that only God can get credit for.

Pastors and staff leaders who already share the ideas he presents but need help in converting their leadership constellation.

Emerging leaders, both clergy and lay, who are going to give leadership to the church in the emerging world.

This is not a “how-to” book, as in, these are the five steps to lead your church to greater growth or the six steps to greater effectiveness. He will repeat questions that church leaders are asking and then he will pose questions that we all should be asking.


RS said...

Bill...I've almost written reviews on Reggie's first two books, but have resisted to this point. I wouldn't have been kind...but not because his books say anything wacky or especially disconcerting.

My only issue with Reggie was that I felt like I had read almost everything in his book elsewhere...almost like me and Reggie have the same reading list, except he decided to write a book that synthesized what he had been reading lately.

The most blatant example was a rip off of Daniel Goleman's "Primal Leadership" in one of the chapters of Reggie's second book. While it irked me at the time...I've since reflected and I think McNeil's book/s serve a valuable purpose.

Truth is, many people won't read the books that Reggie appears to have summarized in his writings. Also, Reggie's denominational roll places him in a position to propagate ideas that would otherwise be missed by his usual audience.

Anyway...I actually bought this book at your behest, Bill. While I think he says some solid things, I would primarily recommend it to those that could use these ideas...but don't have time to read (or do not like to read) many books.

Which...according to my interactions with people define much of the population. And that's why I've done a 180 on McNeil's writings and see them as a valuable--albeit unoriginal--contribution to church leadership for the more traditional, denominational church.

BTW...I remember well your place in life when this book impacted you so much...and it made total sense to me why it was impacting you.

Hope all is well in MO land, bro...

Rick W.

billy v said...

I agree with a lot of what you are saying. Reggie really challenged me from a church staff perspective and I heard everything he was saying. I had not read what he might have been summarizing. I do know that he is living this out in a missional community in SC.