Monday, April 07, 2008

The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church.

Once again I have stumbled across a book that has caused me to think (yes, there are actually times when I sit and think!). The book is by Reggie McNeal and is called The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church. I will be looking at this challenging book over the next few days.

Ministry and the church have been my world. But it is a world that I increasingly find difficult to feel at home in because it lacks spiritual purpose and missional vitality.

I’m talking about the church world in North America. A world that has largely forsaken its missional covenant with God to be a part of kingdom expansion. It has, instead, substituted its own charter of church as a clubhouse where religious people hang out with other people who think, dress, behave, vote, and believe like them.

-McNeal, The Present Future, pages xv-xvi.

This morning I spoke with a young pastor who has hopes for the future of the church but is currently captive to club members in the congregation he serves. “I wonder why I am still doing this,” he sighed. He’s only thirty years old! Some of us are asking this question after many more years of investment. If you are, I am writing to give legitimization to your concerns and doubts about the church culture, but also to give you hope. I want to help you by giving you ways of starting conversations that might lead you out of church captivity and into the adventure you anticipated. (Note: bold text is in the book)

-McNeal, The Present Future, page xvi.

The “church” is in trouble!

A couple of years ago my wife and I chartered a narrow boat and spent a wonderful week on the canals of England. We had the pleasure of seeing the countryside at 4 knots (a little over 3 mph for those land lubbers out there). We stopped and walked into every village we came to. Every town/village had a church. Most churches have very few people that attend services. My heart wept as I had glimpse of what might be the future for the North American church. I know that there are churches that are alive and well in England. The problem is that they are few and far between. The “church” in England has moved well beyond the point of being in trouble!

I have been teaching a class on church history. As a Purpose Driven Presbyterian Church Evergreen is striving to produce well-rounded disciples of Christ. Most Christians have no concept of church history. We need to understand the past in order to move into a preferred future. We have just looked at the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings in the United States. The Presbyterian Church was one of the “big losers” during those times of God’s pouring out of his Spirit. The Presbyterian Church missed the wave because it was so vested in doing things the way they had always been done.

The “church” is in trouble!

Too many churches have become a country club. Too many churches have become a political action committee. Too many churches have become so inward focused that they can’t see past the walls of the church. Too many churches have become so interested in changing social structures that that they have forgotten that people are going to go to hell because they have not been “born again” (Jesus’ words, not mine). Too many churches have lost spiritual purpose and a missional calling.

The “church” is in trouble!

The Present Future is going to challenge us—it has sure been challenging me! Let’s journey together in looking at the present future of the church.


At 1:16 PM , Blogger Presbyterian Gal said...

I would add to "the church is in trouble"... "and the people are in peril".

At 8:47 AM , Blogger Pastor Lance said...

Very good, presbyterian gal!
Pastor Lance


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