Reggie McNeal’s book, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church, addresses the need for the church to move from program driven buildings and bureaucracy back to missional service and disciple making.
In this book, McNeal looks at how the church has been inwardly focused and more like a “club” with a “club mentality”, seeking its own good and interests above the mission of reaching the unsaved and those who are “outside the club.” The local church has become something that is antiquated and far removed from its life giving vitality of mission and service toward dead ritualistic programs and facilities.
It has been said that the church is the only organization that exists for its non-members. McNeal asserts, in so many words, that this is no longer the case concerning the church in North America. We, the church, have become more inwardly focused and have done less and less for those who we should be reaching out to in selfless service, evangelism and discipleship. As the church, we must move away from the “country club” mindset and move back toward our mission—people.
The future of the church lies in the present. The old ways no longer work for a new generation with a differing culture and a diversity of need. Old models of ministry and church are ceasing to function and work as they once did. New methods of relationships and decentralization must be put into action. Disciples must be made and leadership must be developed and sent out.
The church is not something we go to, the church is who we are in the world. We must move from an attractional model of church buildings and programs, with the idea of “if we build it, they will come” and move toward being a people who integrate our faith into our work and into every area of our lives. We must be the church in “the present future.”
In The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church, Reggie McNeal addresses six serious topics, which include the following: The church culture, as we know it, is over; we must move from church growth models to kingdom growth thinking and initiative; a new reformation will begin once the church releases equipped people into the world for mission; spiritual formation and development must be at the heartbeat of the church; church leaders must move from planning to preparation so they will be equipped for every good work; and finally, church leaders need to be trained and equipped, not to do programing, but to do mission, and to be missional, as sent people into the world.
The Present Future is an excellent book for anyone in church and ministry leadership. This book is relevant in addressing real concerns with the current state of the church and is motivational and inspirational in addressing real issues with real solutions of mission and focus.
McNeal, Reggie. The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church. Jossey-Bass, 2003.