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The Once and Future Church: Reinventing the Congregation for a New Mission Frontier (Once and Future Church Series) Paperback – June 1, 1991
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"This is a book that will challenge everything you are doing, but will also give you clues for the future." -- William McKinney, Dean, Hartford Seminary
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Reviewed by Darren Cronshaw
Mead has a high view of the church, but clearly explains how congregations are challenged by changing understandings of mission, new roles for laity and leaders, and collapsing institutional structures. Historically he outlines the apostolic paradigm (where witness in a hostile environment was the responsibility of all Christians), through Christendom (where the missionary frontier was removed and left to professionals), and through to today when a third way of being church is being born. Once again the front door of the congregation is a door to mission and the ministry of the laity is being rediscovered. Rather than new programmes, Mead advocates a new paradigm of mission, reinventing the church as we go. He says this will involve refocusing clergy as equippers, prioritizing formation for God's people, and focusing on identity, process and context more than programmes and marketing. This book is available with a study guide and video, and has been followed up with Transforming Congregations for the Future (1994) and Five Challenges for the Once and Future Church (1996), and available with all three together in The Once and Future Church Collection (2001).
Originally appeared in Darren Cronshaw, `The Emerging Church: Introductory Reading Guide', Zadok Papers, S143 (Summer 2005).