I thoroughly enjoyed the day yesterday at Pleasant Valley Baptist in Liberty, MO listening to Reggie McNeal expound on missional living. He's an extremely engaging communicator who mixes in lots of humor along the way with his critique of the established church for going about business as usual and allowing programs to drive us rather than passionately engaging those outside the walls of our institutions. He sprinkled in lots of statistics and stories of individuals and churches that are "getting it" in terms of the shift to living missionally.
His presentation pretty well mirrored the contents of his recent book, Missional Renaissance, with its insistence on the need to change the church's scorecard in terms of what we count and celebrate. Reggie did a great job yesterday of addressing two of the three shifts he talks about in that book (from an internal to an external focus, and from running programs to developing people). He didn't really discuss at any great length the third focus the book mentions which is the shift from professional leadership to leadership shared by everyone in the community. I suppose he was alluding to this when he did answer a question about the future of the ministry as we've known it in the past.
He made an excellent point when he stressed that leaders are often too quick to sell solutions to problems before they've sufficiently convinced people that a problem exists. I think that's why the majority of our churches find it so comfortable to continue sustaining traditional programs rather than asking the hard questions about which programs really deserve to be maintained and which ought to be allowed to die a merciful death.
I'm glad that several from our staff were able to attend the conference together because it gives us a common framework of experience to discuss these issues. I expect it will provide some great fodder for thought in the coming days.