Tag: Emerging

Alan Hirsch: Organic Systems

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…

Organic/Incarnational Recommended Reads

My church planting coach, Mark Moore, recently recommended the following books (w/disclaimer that he doesnt agree with everything in them). I’ve read a couple and now have more to read! I’ve linked a couple to personal blog reflections/reviews.

The Shaping of Things to Come (Frost, Hirsch)

The Forgotten Ways (Hirsch)

Radical Renewal (Snyder)

Houses that Change the World (Simson)

Organic Church (Cole)

Reflections on Driscoll's Emergent Critique


  1. As noted in an earlier post, Mark prefaced his comments with pastoral concern and love–a very different Driscoll from years past. This should be applauded.
  2. Mark clearly set the stage for his critique by identifying the three steams of Missional.
  3. His critique of the “Revisionists” was informed by primary resource research and not hearsay or out-of-context interpretation.
  4. His use of classical Systematic theology categories (e.g. use of atonement theories) to critique other theologies was a great reminder that, in a day when biblical theology is in vogue, systematics are still an important discipline for church life.


  1. Though Driscoll engaged McLaren, Pagitt and Bell in context, he did not do so from a comprehensive understanding of their theologies. Not that he has to cite every work they have written, but understanding the isolated “heresies” within a greater framework would have been really helpful, especially with the Bell critique.
  2. From my limited exposure to Bell, he relies too heavily upon Rabbinic commentary; however, does this translate to not being Jesus-centered? Thoughts?
  3. Driscoll critique’s McLaren’s silence on homosexuality issue. “No answer is an answer.” It would have been better to get McLaren’s actual stance on this.