Book Review: Future Church

Welcoming the Future Church

My Rating – Probably not worth your time

Level – Easy, short book

Summary
I’m struggling to summarize this book, partly because I didn’t like to very much and I think he missed the mark. His goal to to explain to church leaders how to reach young adults. There is an intro which is about Millennials, then three sections of the book – teach, engage, deploy – each with subchapters, followed by a conclusion.

The teach section is actually fairly interesting and is about how he puts his messages (sermons) together. Engage is more or less a revamped seeker-sensitive plan from the 90’s. Deploy is how he runs his ministry, which is helpful for people involved in church, but again, pretty well follows the ‘attractional’ model of a few decades ago, and sadly never mentions discipleship.

My Thoughts
Pokluda tries to use the subtitle ‘reach, teach, engage’ (this doesn’t match the three section of the book, but like was likely a publishers decision) young adults, but I’m not sure it worked. I suppose, overall, the book is about reaching young adults, as he is a young adult minister or leads this ministry at his church. However, I think it is problematic to use both a generational moniker (Millenials) and to say ‘young adults’. I understand why he did this, but in 10-20 years, the young adults will be a different generation. Also, I don’t see anything unique to Millenials, with the possible exception that we are getting married/having kids later. This is a somewhat interesting issue, driven partly by the unfortunate need that in the modern U.S. economy, a college degree is basically entry level, and partly because the Church spent a whole generation arguing about who should married (whether Christian or not) instead of explaining the meaning and importance of marriage, and finally the skyrocketing divorce rate we observed from our parents (boomers) generation.

Overall, the book missed the mark. I suppose for church leaders of older churches, there could be some useful information, but as I mentioned above, it is mostly ‘attractional’ model church building with the focus on numbers. I find some of interesting, but didn’t realize the book would be so programmatic. I thought the purpose of the book would be different (and this is on me for literally judging the book by it’s cover), focusing on the ‘future’ church in more a ethnic/nationality change. While most of the people on the cover are hipsters, they are fairly diverse. I know the future church (in America, this is already the case worldwide) will be non-white, and first generation Americans, as white America continues to liberalize and leave the church. As I said, that was my mistake, but I was expecting demographic data, not church programming.

I liked ‘Adulting‘, the author’s first book, and Pokluda is a good writer, clear and engaging, and he was some solid thoughts in this book, but I just don’t think it was ready for publication. Or the publishers took his ideas in a different direction. Either way, I don’t see this book as really worth your time.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Addendum – I generally hate any discussions of generational strife. New generations are never as innovate or special as they think, and they are never as bad or naive as the prior generations believe. Their is a painful irony, that the generation that was originally derided as the ‘me’ generation now complains that the generation they raised is selfish (especially despite most research that shows the millenials are more concerned about doing good than other generations).

The generation that invented the word ‘parenting’ mocks us for inventing the word ‘adulting’. The generation that gave us ‘participation trophies’ (which were never for us, we were five, they were for them, a trophy to show off for their good ‘parenting’). They laugh that our generation for paying our own money to take classes on cooking, sewing, budgeting, etc. Why? Because they never taught us, and cut the education budget so that many schools no longer taught Home Ec. Similarly, this book shares the concern that Millennials are knowledgeable about theology and Biblically Illiterate. It is beyond my understanding that this is considered a flaw of the younger generation and not the failure of the ‘parenting’ generation. My five year old knows the Lord’s Prayer and Apostle’s Creed (don’t @ me, I know this doesn’t save her or actually mean she understands anything), things I didn’t know until I was in my 20’s. She calls Sunday ‘Church Day’.  It is my job to make sure she can read and understand the Bible. I can’t fathom blaming her for her lack of knowledge. She may reject the Bible some day, but she is going to know it. If she doesn’t know it, how can that be on her?

Finally, can we stop with ‘authenticy’? Millenials are not special in believing they are authentic. You can read Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing, by a middle-age guy (at the time) written over 30 years ago, and he talks about the importance of his generation being authentic. I’m drawing a blank, and this is already too long, but there are writers who were young adults in the 1920’s talking about the problem of ‘inauthentic’. I’m sure if you went even further back you’d find more. Anyway, rant against generational theory finished.

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