The Forgotten Ways, Part 8

It’s hard to imagine a few weeks ago when I sat down with my friend Doug at the Bean and he encouraged me to read Allelon.org’s blogs about the missional church that it would have led to a month of thinking more deeply about what it means to be the church. The next day I walked into the library at Michigan Theological Seminary and grabbed a little book called The Forgotten Ways. This is post eight, the last chapter of the book: Communitas, not Community.I think that the opening quote from Paulo Coelho is best summary of the chapter where he says, “The ship is safest when it is in port. But that’s not what ships were made for.”The quote says it all. In recent times there has been an emphasis on “community”. This emphasis has always highlighted the church being a safe place, a retreat from the world. The metaphor of a hospital has been used. The community was...
Read More

The Forgotten Ways, Part 7

As I sit here at home I have just finished the book! So we are on the home stretch with only a couple of posts on The Forgotten Ways remain. This chapter was one that I was not particularly looking forward to. As a result it took a while to chew through it. However, it turns out that “Organic Systems” are actually pretty cool things! Who knew?I think that the best way to understand the concept of “Organic Systems” in Hirsch’s mindset is to think about a spiderweb. The whole web is connected to itself. There are multiple nodes and lines. The whole thing is interconnected. This is what an organic system is all about.Consider our body. There are multiple little systems like the nervous system, skeletal system, or epidermal system, but each one by itself does not a body make. They all come together and create a body. This is what the church ought to look like.The church, Hirsch...
Read More

The Forgotten Ways, Part 6

If the church is going to become this embodiment of Jesus in a communal way then there is a foundational issue that must be dealt with. That is our conception of what it means to lead. How do we lead if we have set aside the corporate and the coercive models of power?Hirsch argues that there is a change in the leadership environment of the church. This means that there must be an embracing of what he calls “Apostolic Leadership”. This kind of leadership he argues is one of function and not office. The concept of leadership as being function and not office is a big deal in the tradition that I come out of. Offices are critical to the leadership of the church in my tradition, those of Elder and Deacon.To move our leadership beyond these offices is not something that can be taken lightly. However, this idea of function means quite simply that anyone, regardless of office, can...
Read More

The Forgotten Ways, Part 5

Part five is upon us! The Missional Incarnational Impulse. What the heck does that mean? This is another chapter where Hirsch makes it pretty clear that he must define his term in the negative, what I mean is that, a positive declaration of “missional-incarnational impulse” is difficult in and of itself to define, therefore, you have to state what it is not to bring clarity to what it is!Missional-incarnational impulse is basically the opposite of the attractional model of the church. What is the attractional model, you ask? Well, it is the idea that we are to draw people into the church building by providing the best, most exciting, and most relevant programming that we can possibly fathom. I think the best way to illustrate the attractional model of the church is from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”The opposite of this is the concept of mission. What do you think of when you consider the...
Read More

The Forgotten Ways, Part 4

The Heart of It All — Jesus is Lord. So, now what? The first main principle that Hirsch lays out is that of disciple making. The development of disciples has taken on a new cool twist recently with all the emphasis on the Jewish life and what a Rabbi really is and therefore what it means to be a disciple. Hirsch steps in a provides a clear, succinct, and challenging picture of what discipleship is all about. How important is discipleship? Hirsch argues, “if we fail at this point then we must fail in all the others.”So what is discipleship? It is the embedding of mDNA into other people. It is that process by which men and women follow Jesus are built into people who can reproduce their lives into others. This is God’s plan for sending his message all over the world. And it as Hirsch puts it, “it worked.”Discipleship has taken on many labels over the years, Robert Coleman called...
Read More

The Forgotten Ways, Part 3

Hirsch gets going into the “heart of it all” in chapter 3. This chapter lays out the necessity for Jesus to be Lord. This is the center of mDNA, oh, wait, I am ahead of myself. What is mDNA? This is the organic coding for Apostolic Genius. What is Apostolic Genius?Well, it’s the results of mDNA.Enough playing around. mDNA is comprised of the five key principles along with the driving story that “Jesus is Lord.” mDNA it is argued is found within each believer and when it is unleashed the result is Apostolic Genius which is best understood to be the ability to live out what it means to be the church.The five key principles: Disciplemaking Missional-Incarnational Impulse Apostolic Environment Organic Systems Communitas NOT Community The next few chapters will be focused on these six concepts. So, let’s begin with the driving story that Jesus is Lord.The heart of Chapter 3 is this controlling story that Jesus is Lord. Hirsch provides the technical term of “Christocentric...
Read More

The Forgotten Ways, Part 2

As it turns out chapter 2 is all about the role of Christendom and institutional Christianity. Who knew? So, again I will outline the chapter and then give you my thoughts on it.Hirsch begins by arguing that the natural way of things is to default back to that which is comfortable and known. He quotes the great philosopher Bono from U2, “stuck in a moment and now [we] can’t get out of it”. Whenever we seek to try something new we invariably default back to what has proven to work.This is especially true in Christendom where the institutional concept of what it means to be a Christian is so deeply ingrained in our minds and limits our imaginations.Therefore, the way that change can come about is by not simply adjusting the programs but stepping into the very heart of what it means to be the church. Hirsch provides a great illustration, that of the the computer. It goes like this:...
Read More

The Forgotten Ways, Part 1a

So, I realized that there was one other thing running through my mind from the introduction and first chapter. Hirsch begins to make a distinction between Christianity and Christendom. This is what he calls the difference between institution and organic growth.The thing that caught my mind was the role of the institutional church. Doug and I were talking about this on Wednesday at the Bean and then reading Hirsch some thoughts began to crystallize. This idea of the institution is pretty powerful. Around 310ish is when the Church went from underground to large and in charge so to speak. Then something happened — an institution was born.I run in some different parts of the Christian sub-culture and one in particular is a large parachurch organization. A favorite phrase is, “a movement becomes a monument overnight”. I think that there is some truth to this. Almost that fast the underground church became an institution. The faith that was demonstrated by a crucified and...
Read More

The Forgotten Ways, Part 1

I have a direction for this blog which is exciting. This summer I am interning at my local church. Currently our church is going through a transition from a “come and see” model to a “go and tell” model. Our pastor and has been encouraging our elders to consider deeply what it means to be the Church. In the midst of this transition I am coming alongside Doug (my pastor) and seeking to learn what it means to be a pastor and in so doing I am learning what it means to be missional.Therefore, I am reading the text, Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch. What I am going to do is take a few posts and summarize each chapter and then write a bit about what is running through my head as a result.The introduction and first chapter Hirsch sets the stage for what he desires to talk about in the text. I need to go out of order in...
Read More

Why do this?

There is a strange phenomenon that has taken place in the world today. Not very long ago there were little girls with diaries that had locks and keys. Now, they have been replaced by Blogger, Xanga, Myspace, and Facebook Notes. The world is invited into our minds, memories,thoughts, concepts, and ideas. So why do this? Why invite people in?A friend of mine, Ken, said that blogging was cathartic and that in it this generation finds hope for community and connection. I think he is right. There is something cleansing about writing your words out. Sending your ideas into the universe and to possibly have them read one day by someone. In past times people wrote books. Well, nobody reads anymore. I am struck by the fact that Jonathon Edwards, a Christ-follower from an earlier time, seemed to be aware that his journals would someday be read. He had an eye to the encouragement and edification of future people.My hope is...
Read More