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The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church Hardcover – October 3, 2003
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"This is the most courageous book I have ever read on church life. McNeal nails the problem on the head. Be prepared to be turned upside down and shaken loose of all your old notions of what church is and should be in today's world."
— George Cladis, senior pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Oklahoma City and author, Leading the Team-Based Church
"With humor and rare honesty Reggie McNeal challenges church leaders to take authentic Christianity back into the real world. He's asking the right questions to help us get back on track."
— Tommy Coomes, contemporary Christian music pioneer and record producer, artist with Franklin Graham Ministries
"Reggie McNeal throws a lifeline to church leaders who are struggling with consumer-oriented congregations wanting church for themselves. The Present Future will recharge you passion."
— Rev. Robert R. Cushman, senior pastor, Princeton Alliance Church, Plainsboro, New Jersey
"Christian leaders will find great questions being answered in this compelling and motivating work that unwraps what he calls 'the realities of the present future' in the church today."
— Kelvin Gardiner, district superintendent, Christian and Missionary Alliance.
"The momentum of God that allows visionary ministries to experience exponential growth stalls for the lack of great management (having the right systems and people in place to move to the next level). This is a must read for the young entrepreneur at the beginning of ministry or the seasoned pioneer!"
— Mike Slaughter, senior pastor, Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, Tipp City Ohio
"I would highly recommend this book to any person interested in the current state of the Church in North America and the future of that Church. It is time that we pay attention to the realities of our ministry context and like David's 'Men of Issachar' discern the right path into the future."
— Rick E. Morrow, pastoral care coordinator, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina
"This book is a rare find in which McNeal lovingly challenges the church with a spirit of adventure and rediscovery."
— The Rt. Rev. Charles Jenkins, Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana
From the Inside Flap
Many of the old beliefs held by church leaders and congregations read as if they are self-evident, irrefutable truths If you build the perfect church they will come . . . Growing your church automatically makes a difference in the community . . . Developing better church members will mean better evangelism . . . Time has failed to produce the evidence of these claims.
In this provocative book, author, consultant, and church leadership developer Reggie McNeal debunks these and other old assumptions and provides an overall strategy to help church leaders move forward in an entirely different and much more effective way. In The Present Future, McNeal identifies the six most important realities that church leaders must address including: recapturing the spirit of Christianity and replacing "church growth" with a wider vision of kingdom growth; developing disciples instead of church members; fostering the rise of a new apostolic leadership; focusing on spiritual formation rather than church programs; and shifting from prediction and planning to preparation for the challenges of an uncertain world. McNeal contends that by changing the questions church leaders ask themselves about their congregations and their plans, they can frame the core issues and approach the future with new eyes, new purpose, and new ideas.
Written for congregational leaders, pastors, and staff leaders, The Present Future captures the urgency of a future that is literally now upon us, in a thoughtful, vigorous way. It is filled with examples of leaders and churches who are emerging into a new identity and purpose, and rediscovering the focus of their mission within new spiritual dimensions.
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The book also reinforces that we are "the called out ones"... the Ekklesia in order to GO and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). We often miss the obey His commands in this verse. We must be obedient to rise up out of the comfort of our Assemblies and meet the other "Called Out Ones" where they're at in the world. Imagine when the final person receives the Gospel and our Lord return!! What a wonderful thought! Let's get mobilized Church!!
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.
This book presents some really tough questions, as implied by the title. However, it doesn't just present the questions, but posits some great potential answers to those questions. This is a great book about church growth and outreach. The contents are very well laid out, concise, and to the point. The author doesn't attempt to sugar coat anything, and gives some great, practical, and real-life examples and stories. It was a very easy book to read.
I have given this book a rating of 5 stars, based on the following:
- I have already suggested to others that they read this book.
- This is definitely a book that I will read and reference again and again.
- The book has some amazing content.
- The book is not extremely repetitive, things are clear and concisely stated, but not drilled into you via simple redundancy.
- The book has compelling examples from the author's life experience that shape the content of the book.
This is definitely not a "how to" book, but more of a mirror and evaluator. At the least, it's a gut check. At most, it'll change the way you see church as it has done for me.