Monday, March 30, 2009
The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch
Title: The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church by Alan Hirsch.
How it was obtained: I purchased at the ETS conference in Rhode Island (for half price I might add!).
Time spent on the "to read" shelf: None.
Days spent reading it: 4 months.
Why I read it: My previous District Superintendent suggested reading it when I asked what books he was reading that he would recommend. I'll take Gordon's word on a book any day. So I decided to read it.
Brief review: This book hurt my head. It was one of the most challenging, thought provoking, and important books I believe that I have read about ministry in many years. The Forgotten Ways is a book that focuses on how we can activate the church to become missional again. The typical current model is attractional (bringing people to us). Missional is one of those trendy terms that is flying all over the place lately, but in essence it boils down to how can we get people in the church to reach out to people outside of the church. "Missional" typically also means that as we reach people outside of the church, we do it on their turf. We don't bring them to an evangelistic meeting at our church building. We don't drag them to another prayer meeting. Instead, we find them where they are at: in pubs, parks, sporting events, work places, etc. and we minister to them there. In other words we go out on mission to people. Hirsch (and other missional thinkers) are simply using our pattern for "Missions" and applying it to our pattern for church growth.
I cannot even begin to give you a breakdown of Hirsch's book. I underlined so much of this book as I attempted to digest the huge concepts that he talks about. The book was very readable. Hirsch does throw out some technical language, but always explains it in a simple and clear fashion. He has great charts and pictures that help you to see exactly what he is talking about at every point.
The focus of this book is how we can recapture what Hirsch calls the Apostolic Genius of the first century. This genius has shown up in other movements in Christian history, including the current movement in China where the underground church has exploded and multiplied since missionaries were pushed out almost a century ago.
There is a ton of information in this book. Its not a quick read, but it is an important read. I know some will absolutely reject his message. It will make them uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. But it also stirred my heart and my mind in how we can revitalize the church in today's culture.
I would highly recommend this to anyone currently in ministry. Whether you are planting, maintaining, or developing a church and its ministries, this book will stretch you and challenge you in a good way.
Favorite quote: The implications of following the Torah faithfully will be to connect all things in life directly to Yahweh, whether it be the mildew or the temple worship and everything in between. Therefore, everything--one's work, one's domestic life, one's health, one's worship--has significance to God. He is concerned with every aspect of the believer's life, not just the so-called spiritual dimensions....To say this more explicitly there is no such thing as sacred and secular in biblical worldview.
Stars: 5 out of 5.
Final Word: Thoughtful.