Friday, February 24, 2012

Missional Communities by Reggie McNeal: A short book review

I've had Missional Communities sitting on my desk for a few weeks screaming at me to review it. I've started reading Reggie McNeal's stuff years ago and have always been encouraged by what he writes. As with the rest, I was not disappointed by this one.

The subtitle of the book is "The Rise of the Post-Congregational Church" which might cause some to assume that he is advocating an "anti-congregational" approach to church methodology. Refreshingly, he does not take a contrarian stance. Instead in this book, he acts as an observer of what is going on in forms of church life that intersect "people in the middle of life--in their homes, their workplaces, their leisure pursuits, and their passions to help others" (xx).

At the same time, he does contrast this approach to church against the congregation-centric methodologies that dominate our imagination. These points of contrast are helpful for the sake of clarification especially since the tone he takes is that of a gracious observer, not a castigator of "all that is traditional."

The most helpful part of the book is found in chapters three through seven where he describe five working models of missional communities. From the highly organic approach of Mike Breen to the mega-church strategy of Dave Ferguson, this book provides a great survey of different experimental approaches to the development of missional communities.

The last chapter looks ahead at how missional communities might develop. He makes some projections about trends with which I find myself in agreement. And he suggests some topics that need further explanation. Finally the last chapter concludes with some initial steps to take in order to develop missional communities. While I had hoped for more on this topic, I also recognize that this was not the primary purpose of the book. Where this chapter introduces some basic steps, it does not have the space to deal with the complex, adaptive change issues that arise in churches that are looking to experiment with missional communities. There are other resources that can compliment what this book offers that can help churches map out a unique plan. I only know this because this has been the focus of my research and writing for over a decade. (If you want to explore this more, I'm in the middle of writing a blog series entitled "Is Both/And Possible?")

This book is a great survey of creative, experimental environments where God is moving on mission. If you are looking to develop such environments then this is definitely a book you need to read. Learn from others who have been on the road and then develop a unique process that will equip people to live in missional community.

No comments: