Tag: Alan Hirsch

Alan Hirsch on Missional Discipleship

At our inaugural PlantR Microconference, we are hosting Alan Hirsch on the topic of Missional Discipleship. Session 2 is on Incarnational Mission (how to make disciples).

Incarnation As Mission

  • We are sent like the Father sent the Son–incarnation.
  • Jesus is in the neighborhood for 30 years and nobody knew.
  • This way of incarnating the gospel is the most profound way God has ever engaged the world.
  • If the incarnation is the way God sends, then we must become incarnational.
  • The apostles worked with the message Jesus is Lord and that was enough.
  • You don’t commute to your mission.
Incarnating the Gospel via Discipleship (6 Ps)
  • Presence – God is with you on mission not just for you.
  • Proximity – Context is everything. Take your “small group” and put it out in public.
For more on Alan’s work on Missional Discipleship see my 3 posts on his book Untamed or just buy the book!

Discipleship Isn’t a Program

I’m getting rocked on discipleship these days. From my positive experiences in the pub, in the projects or in God’s presence to a deepening desire for more disciples, more discipleship, more life sharing on mission. God is using the Hirsch’s book to call me into deeper missional discipleship—making disciples while on mission.

As I share in Fight Clubs: gospel-centered discipleship, for years I approached discipleship as a program, as a meeting, and as a professional/novice relationship. Progress has been made. I moved from the top of the stairs to floor of the living room, where I can sit in the circle of my City Group, staff, or neighborhood friends. I am grateful that I have been inconvenienced by actually sharing my life instead of simply sharing my insight.

I’m also on mission. I’m trying, very imperfectly, to share my life, my struggles, my hopes, and my dreams with those around me. I’m also trying to listen to others struggles, hopes, and dreams so we can all make progress together, some of in the faith, others toward the faith. Dinner with the neighbors. Outings with the City Group. Breakfast with leaders. Evenings in the projects and pubs. A lot has changed in my life, but not enough.

If missional defines our being sent out into the world, then incarnational must define the way in which we engage the world.

The Hirsch’s put a point on mission when the say: “If missional defines our being sent out into the world, then incarnational must define the way in which we engage the world” (Untamed, 234). The proof of our mission is our incarnation of Jesus into un-Christian communities and lives. It doesn’t matter how much you know about culture, missiology, or urbanism if you aren’t actually engaging real people in context (I want names!).

So many church planters ask me what to do in the “Core Team Phase”. They ask: “How do I build my core?” I ask them: “Do you know your neighbors? Have you had them all for dinner or a party?” Inevitably the answer is “No” or “Wow.” Church planters, disciples of Jesus, if we aren’t circumscribed into others’ lives, we are not on mission. Stop waving the flag and join the race. Jump in with people now. This was Jesus’ whole agenda. Let’s make it our agenda–incarnating the hope of the gospel in relationship.

Review: Untamed, Hirsch (pt 3)

Almost finished with my review of the Hirsch’s very fine book Untamed: Reactivating Missional for  of Discipleship. See Part 1, Part 2. If you’ve been tracking with me, I’ve had very good things to say about this new work. It combines the theological and the practical in a very creative, helpful way. I will offer some constructive criticism in my next and final post.

Spirit-led Discipleship (most of us don’t experience it)

As someone who aspires to a robust trinitarian faith, I gravitate to good treatments of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 3 offers us just that, not in a work of pure theology or exegesis, but as a compelling, creative, and culturally savvy reflection on the person and work of the Spirit in the missional church. The Hirsches write: “Discipleship is birthed in the Spirit, but it is also very much maintained in the Spirit.”

Unfortunately, there are theological camps that cut him right out of spiritual life. Even some of the circles I run in, I find a serious neglect of the Spirit, as if “the gospel” substitutes for the Spirit. The gospel is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the Gospel of God, a trinitarian God–Father, Son and Spirit. I have addressed this at length in Spirit-led Ecclesiology: Following the Spirit through Church Planting (new article on this forthcoming). But perhaps the more threatening aspect of missional church to Spirit-led discipleship is our reliance on models, methods, and books. In a word, “technique,” which is a terrible substitute for God, the Spirit. The Spirit does much more that regenerate.

The Creative Holy Spirit

“The Holy Spirit is the most creative person in the universe.”

This quote has stuck with me for weeks. It prods me to write more, dream more, create more, rely on the Spirit more. On Sunday I was praying that the Spirit would stretch his wings over our congregation and flap new life and healing into our people. He did it in the beginning (Gen 1); he did it with Israel (Deut 32); he did and continues to do it with the Church (Acts 2).

The Hirsch’s point out that the “Holy” Spirit is set on making more than our morality holy. The Spirit wants to release powerful, creative waves of mission through disciples of Jesus, but before he can, we must repent of our sinful dependence on comfort, convenience, and technique. Once we do, the Spirit can release a “sanctified imagination” that envisions and enacts an entirely new way of living that brings hope in all places to all people. The Spirit produces “lots of little Jesuses” that bring hope and renewal into our present world.

Let’s repent for neglecting and assuming the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s turn to his creative, sanctifying power to envision new neighborhoods and cities, wonderfully transformed by the Spirit of God through the disciples of Christ.

Review: Untamed, Hirsch (pt 2)

This is part two of my book review of Alan and Deb Hirsch’s book Untamed: reactivating missional discipleship. See part one.

God-centered Discipleship

Given the age of programs, systems, and missional techniques, it was very refreshing to see the Hirsch’s start off with a profound theological focus. Chapter Two lays a God-centered foundation for discipleship by explaining the difference between a healthy and a sick disciple. The Hirsches set the tone by saying: “A book on missional discipleship must first get the basics right in relation to God.” They make it clear that missional discipleship isn’t about being trendy or socially active; it’s fundamentally about worshiping God. They write:“If we are going to be missional disciples then we need to put our best efforts into knowing God, into the pursuit of the Holy.”

Shema Spirituality (holistic discipleship)

The problem with every disciple is that we worship things and persons other than God. Drawing on Lewis’ distinction between ordinate and inordinate love, they point out that the sick disciple is one who inordinately loves anything other than God (very Augustinian). A distinction is made between idol worship and worship of the one, true God, what they call Shema Spirituality. No, it’s not Eastern mysticism, it’s based on the Great Shema of Deuteronomy 6 which tells us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind.Discipleship is loving God first and foremost, and then loving everything else in light of that love.”

True discipleship involves a right knowing of God, and right knowing includes feeling, thinking, and acting. Mature disciples grow in all three areas. They note that these ways of loving God are more natural to some than others. In fact, each way of Shema spirituality tends to align with certain spiritual leaders: Pastor (feeling), Activist (acting), and Theologian (thinking). Each of these types of leaders need to spend time with one another for mature discipleship to come about. And all disciples need all three types of people in their lives.

Reflect on your Discipleship

We do well to pause and consider where we need to grow as disciples—as theologians, pastors, or activists? Are there other Christians in your life that can “round you out” to foster a God-centered knowing and maturity in your discipleship? If so, ask them to lunch and explore ways you can grow together as disciples of Jesus. As with every chapter, the Hirsches provide helpful application points and questions for discussion.