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Missional Renaissance (1)

This is the first post in a series on Reggie McNeal’s new book, Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church.  As with all of Reggie’s books, it is simple and straight-forward, yet profound.  Today we discuss the basics of the missional renaissance.

Reggie hits the ground running with this statement in his introduction:

“The rise of the missional church is the single biggest development in Christianity since the Reformation.  The post-Reformation church of the modern era differed remarkably from its medieval predecessor.  The missional church will just as dramatically distinguish itself from what we now call “church”” (p. xiii).

Because the missional movement is new (but gaining attention and acceptance in the mainstream church) it is always important to clarify exactly what we mean by missional.  Reggie will devote one chapter to this topic, but to summarize:

“missional is a way of living, not an affiliation or activity…To think and to live missionally means seeing all life as a way to be engaged with the mission of God in the world” (p.  xiv).  Because of this missional focus, “the missional development goes to the very heart of what the church is, not just what it does” (p.  xiv).

In this last sentence Reggie echoes one of my other favorite missional authors, Craig Van Gelder.  Craig provides the most complete and basic summary of missional when he says “the nature of the church leads to the activity of the church.”  Most church movements (including seeker-sensitive and purpose-driven) did not seriously reconsider the nature of the church, they merely reprogrammed the activities of the church (and did very well, I might add!).  But the truly defining issue in missional is that the nature of the church is being reconsidered.

A lot has been written on the missional nature of the church.  In my opinion Craig Van Gelder has provided two definitive works in The Ministry of the Missional Church and The Essence of the Church.  Reggie could write a theology of the missional movement (he does have a PhD in historical theology!), but he is passionate about seeing the church live missionally.  Therefore, while Reggie understands the missional nature of the church, in this book he is primarily concerned with the activities that result from this missional nature.  In brief, here is how Reggie views the activities of the missional church:

  1. A shift from internal to external in terms of ministry focus
  2. A shift from program development to people development in terms of core activity
  3. A shift from church-based to kingdom-based in terms of leadership agenda

Reggie claims “these shifts are the signature characteristics of what missional means” (p. xvi).  Half of Reggie’s book will focus on these three shifts.  The other half of the book will focus on how to measure the results of these shifts.  Reggie says over and over again “what gets rewarded gets done.”  He sees this as a fundamental truism of human nature.  Therefore, the church must develop a new scorecard to measure and monitor these new shifts, otherwise, the shifts will never take place.  To put it another way, to merely measure church success by Sunday morning attendance and budgets will NEVER instill a missional renaissance.

So there is the big picture of Reggie’s book.  Again, it is simple and straight-forward but profound.  I pray that you enjoy walking through Reggie’s book.  And, as Reggie concludes his introduction, “this is your invitation to join the missional renaissance.”

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  1. March 6, 2009 at 2:26 pm

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