Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reggie McNeal: Missional Renaissance -- A Review

Reggie McNeal’s latest book is certain to become a primary resource for those who want to learn and to teach others about the missional church movement. It is a “must read” for anyone interested in the direction of ministry in the twenty-first century.

If you know Reggie or have heard him speak, you know that he is a gifted communicator, able not only to convey complex ideas in a “down-home” style, but also capable of anticipating the audience’s questions and objections, even the ones they are sometimes afraid to ask.

McNeal had three goals in writing the book. CLICK HERE or on the picture below to hear them in his own words.

McNeal’s first goal was to set forth the language and definition of the missional church. Those not familiar with the missional church movement will find in this book a clear, practical, Biblical, understandable statement of what it means to be “missional”. They will also find someone who understands their fear of change, anticipates their questions, and gives practical guidance for taking a step at a time. Those who are already well read in the subject will find not a lot of new concepts. McNeal builds on the work of people like Bosch, Guder, Newbigin, Hunsberger, Frost and Hirsch and others, but he does it with a style that is his own and that brings new clarity to what may be already familiar ideas. He recognizes that the “missional renaissance” has as much to do with ecclesiology as it does missiology, and he addresses both with integrity.
His second goal was to set forth a clear path and compass settings for the missional journey. This he does by outlining three missional shifts:

Missional Shift 1: From an Internal to an External Focus
  • Shifting from a "member culture" to a "missionary culture."
  • Refocusing and reallocating resources (prayer, people, calendar/time, finances, facilities, and technology) for missional impact. This is really about stewardship, although he doesn’t use the word.
Missional Shift 2: From Program Development to People Development
  • “Are people better off for being part of this church, or are they just tireder and poorer?”
  • Seeing the world as the shaping ground for spiritual formation, not the inside of the church.
  • Moving from mass standardization of programs to mass customization of discipleship.
  • "The missional church assumes that service to others is the first step, not some latter expression of spirituality."
Missional Shift 3: From Church-Based to Kingdom-Based Leadership
The leader must deal with…
  • Paradigm issues (How the leader sees the world)
  • Microskill development (Competencies the leader needs)
  • Resource management (What the leader has to work with)
  • Personal Growth (The leader as a person.)

His final goal was to establish a score card for measuring progress on the missional journey. His inclusion of suggested metrics to assess missional faithfulness and vitality is something that s missing in most other books on the missional church. Those metrics make a unique contribution to the literature. For years we have measured our faithfulness and vitality in terms of growth of attendance, budget, programs, What happens if we measure vitality in terms of the growth of people, service, prayer, outreach? McNeal would have us move from measuring how we are doing church to how we are blessing our communities.

Get a copy of this book and read it. It is a good one.