Monday, January 10, 2011

Missional Renaissance, A Review

by Dr. Larry Hovis

Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church, Reggie McNeal, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 224 pages

Much of my professional reading in recent years has been on the Missional Church. I truly believe it is not only the most authentic way to understand the Church of Jesus Christ, but this vision of the church provides the greatest hope for free and faithful Baptist congregations who are trying to find their way in these changing times. Unfortunately, most of the books on the Missional Church I have read are either too academic, or too "non-Baptist" to be accessible to most of the folks with whom I work. This book is, thankfully, a huge exception to that rule.

In this work, McNeal uses language and concepts that are familiar to Baptists (after all, he worked many years for the South Carolina Baptist Convention), but accurately and compellingly shares a new vision for the church based on missional theology. Eminently practical and thoroughly readable, I think every pastor, staff minister and lay leader should purchase and devour this book.

In general, McNeal argues that effective ministry in our time requires that churches and church leaders make three major shirts: from internal to external, from program development to people development, and from church-based to kingdom-based. For each shift, he suggests practical ways to change the scorecard so that churches can measure what matters when it comes to our efforts to pursue the mission of God in the world.
These three shifts call for a new scorecard for the missional church. The typical church scorecard (how many, how often, how much) doesn't mesh with a missional view of what the church should be monitoring in light of its mission in the world. The current scorecard rewards church activity and can be filled in without any reference to the church's impact beyond itself (p. xvii).
We must change our ideas of what it means to develop a disciple, shifting the emphasis from studying Jesus and all things spiritual in an environment protected from the world to following Jesus into the world to him in his redemptive mission (p. 10).
Larry Hovis is the Executive Coordinator of CBF of North Carolina.

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