The latest book that has captured my earnest interest is Church on the Other Side subtitled Exploring the Radical Future of the Local Congregation by Brian D. McLaren.
Anyone familiar with McLaren knows that he is never shy to pointedly express his ideas. In this book his ideas are pointed toward the future as he imagines it for the local church. He uses the word “radical” to describe this future vision and it is.
I will let him do the talking:
Established churches are becoming increasingly ineffective because our past has not prepared us for ministry in the future.
People can grow toward the kind of straight-talking, enemy-loving, phariseesim-transcending, skeptic-inspiring, poor-in-Spirit discipleship our Lord proclaimed. Jesus can turn a ragtag band of fisherman, rednecks, intellectuals, and common folks into a community of difference-makers. He can start with raw material such as we are.
The top-down oppressive approach of bureaucracy is on its way out. In its place are emerging permission-giving networks. These networks are freeing and empowering people to explore their spiritual gifts individually and in teams on behalf of the Body of Christ.
‘Give me more than facts’ is the plea of postmodernity– give me values, purpose, meaning, mission, passion, wisdom, faith, spirit.
Is it not possible to enter postmodernism incarnationally, as Jesus entered our world, learning its language, telling parables that make sense in its context, feeling its pain, understanding its dreams, loving its people, thoroughly in it while not being of it?
The changes we face as the church– these turbulent changes and raging crosscurrents: Perhaps they are our Red Sea.
I read this book as a requirement for my current class. If you read it- prepare to be challenged!