Continuing on with my review of Reggie McNeal’s book “The Present Future” we will now look at his 2nd reality. The shift from church growth to kingdom growth. In this section Mr. McNeal is trying to tell us that we are more interested in doing “church” than we are of making disciples. Here is a meaningful quote:
The North American church culture is not spiritual enough to reach our culture. In our self-absorption we don’t even see the people we are supposed to be on mission to reach.
In my words this means we are too busy preaching to the choir rather than getting dirty with the sinner out there. He likens our current environment to that of the Pharisees’ evangelism strategy of Jesus’ day. The Pharisees said come and get it. If you jump through our hoops and follow our rules you are welcome to join us. If not then stay away.
Do people need to be like us in order to hear the Gospel from us? The author’s argument is that taking the gospel to the streets means we need a church where people already hang out. Not in our cozy and comfortable neighborhoods. He asks the question “What are we so afraid of out there?” The Pharisees were afraid of being contaminated and losing their righteousness. Are we any better than them?
Mr. McNeal’s last paragraph in this setting is indeed striking:
Bottom line: we’ve got to take the gospel to the streets. This is the only appropriate missional response to the collapse of the church culture. I am not talking about short forays into port off the cruise ship. I am speaking of in intentional 24/7 church presence in the community, not tied to church real estate: office buildings, homes, apartment buildings, malls, school campuses, and community centers.
I will leave it up to those interested to get the book and study his 3rd through 5th realities. These are more “how do we do it chapters” that are not easily summarized. Next time I will look at the 6th reality: The Rise of Apostolic Leadership.