“Have you ever wanted to invest yourself in something worthwhile? Have you ever wondered why your life seems to lack meaning or purpose? … If so, this book is for you. This book is about having a life that counts for something. It is about living to make a difference. Admit it. You’re a glory junkie. That’s why you like the 360o, between-the-legs, slam dunk, or that amazing hand-beaded formal gown, or the seven layer triple-chocolate mousse cake. You were hardwired by your Creator for a glory orientation. It is inescapable.
It’s in our genes. We’ll flock to a museum to see the Salvador Dali masterworks. We’ll wait in a ninety-minute line or a ride on the ultimate roller coaster. We’ll dream for days about the glory of the upcoming Thanksgiving feast. And we’ll work like crazy to achieve one glory moment in some area of our lives. We were simply made for glory, but not just the shadow glories of the created world. We were made for the one glory that is transcendent—the glory of God. When you rasp this, your life begins to make a difference.” – excerpt from A Quest for More, Paul David Tripp
“Arguably Tripp’s best work yet!”– Jeremy Lelek, President, Association of Biblical Counselors
Read chapter 1.
There is so much pressure to deal with in church planting. Pressure to get you target audience down, pressure to meet assessment guidelines, pressure to prove your call, pressure to win people to Christ, pressure to raise money, pressure to grow the church well, pressure to preach like a celebrity, pressure to serve your family, pressure to stay on top of culture, pressure to cultivate communion with God, and oh, the pressure of dealing with your own sin and inadequacy. Add to those items the weighty demands of shepherding eternal souls and the warlike attacks from Satan, and it is evident that church planters are faced with an incredibly diverse and inordinate sense of pressure. What to do?
Well, I am learning that I have to sort out my sources of pressure, the good from the bad. Some pressures must be rejected. “Grow your church” for example. I will never grow our church. Only God in Christ through the Spirit can do that. Yes, I am joyfully responsible for sharing, discussing, preaching, teaching, living the gospel, but I am not sovereign over the hearts of men. Only God can give new, believing hearts to old, broken, sin-encrusted men. So, while I should not bear the weight of regeneration, I am to carry the pressure of responsible, joyful witness. I must cast out negative, ungodly, christian cultural pressures and invite positive, godly, biblical ones. This requires prayerful reflection, cutting off my impulse to relieve the pressure through immediate action. Instead, I pray, confess, and receive grace to do what God has called me to do and repent from doing what God has not called me to do, like grow his Church.
This Christian website provides a good summary of the recent events and their consequences in Burma. They provide hard numbers on tortures, refugees, village destruction, etc. However, they also present hopeful solutions to various social and spiritual ills in Burma.
My earlier critique of Alan Hirsch’s book, The Forgotten Ways, was incomplete and imbalanced. Though there is too much self-coined jargon to wade through, making it a frustrating read, after the first half of the book there are some real gems. So while my earlier praise and critique stand, Hirsch is due more praise, especially from a church planter’s perspective.
The chapter on “Organic Systems” is very helpful. He nicely sets traditional churches in contrast to organic churches:
Planting a new church, or remissionalizing an existing one, in this approach isn’t primarily about buildings, worship services, size of congregations, and pastoral care, but rather about gearing the whole community around natural discipling friendships, worship as lifestyle, and mission in the context of everyday life. (p. 185)
Hirsch then proceeds to lay a theological foundation for why Organic, which is primarily rooted in allusions to the biblical doctrine of creation, especially as it pertains to the church. Noting organic metaphors such as living temples, vines, bodies, seeds, trees, etc. he argues that this imagery is not haphazard but latent with are intrinsically related to the essence of the church (180). Next, he rightly tethers this creation imagery to the triune Creator noting that “an organic image of church and mission is theologically richer by far than any mechanistic and institutional conceptions of church we might devise” (181).
After laying this foundation for Organic church, Hirsch develops insights based on his research and reflection on the nature and function of organic systems. I will briefly list them here: 1) Innate intelligence: trust the organic nature of the church 2) Life is interconnected: follow this impulse in community 3) Information brings change: free and guided information flow is vital to growth. 4) Adaptive change: constantly adapt and react to your environment.
In turn, he advocates building relational networks that have “viruslike growth.” More to come…