Most people believe that the past causes the present, but it's not true. The future causes the present.
Think about the depressed teen who sees nothing but more depression in his future. Is he going to class? Is he getting good grades? What motivation does he have to resist drugs, sex, violence? "Who cares? I'm going to die!" Future pull carries him toward death.
Yeah, but what if I don't believe that the future causes the present? What if I believe the past causes the present? What if the teen's parent's divorced? What if he was abused as a young child? What if...? Yeah, but what would Viktor Frankl say to that? It was not his past that got him throught the concentration camps. No, it was his future.
So, if you think the past causes the present, then I would say that your past has contaminated your future. But it is where you lean forward to that determines so much of where you are today.
Churches are notorious for the past contaminating the future and hurting the present. Since so many Christians in churches pine away for the good ole days when we didn't have to deal with gay marriage, abortion, prayer (not) in schools and so forth. They long for something that they know is impossible. So, there is a hopeless future view and therefore they act hopeless.
Many evangelical churches (Churches of Christ very much included), hopelessly hope for a future that looks like the past. So, that is the way they lean. And so in order to believe they are making progress, they create for themselves Christian ghettos wherein their beliefs can be preserved, but sadly, to the exclusion of the most important people to the church - the lost.
Thus, the future pull on the church is into an abyss that increases the disconnect between the church and the culture - Christian people and non-christian people.
One of the greatest differences between a missional church and a maintenance church is their future. Missional churches view engaging the culture when maintenance churches view preservation from the culture in order to remain comfortable. There are many differences if you think about it.
The idea of future pull is one that church leaders should consider. There is already future pull.
1. What is your current future pull? What future is causing your present?
2. Where is it pulling you? Next year? Five years? Ten years?
3. How strong is it?
4. Is it a missional trajectory or preservation trajectory?
5. Is there future pull toward planting new kinds of churches?
6. Is your future changeable?