If you attended the VERGE conference, you’ll know that missiologist and theologian Alan Hirsch. Michael Stewart used Hirsch’s work on Missional DNA in The Forgotten Ways to give structure to the conference. Alan also led some of the pre-conference to VERGE, which was a stimulating time. Alan’s unique combination of intellect, humility, creativity, and faith have led to some great insights over the past few years. Here’s a list of some of them:
Here one of the outstanding videos of Alan Hirsch unpacking the 6 elements of Missional DNA. This video focuses on communitas. I’ll be posting the rest of the videos throughout the week. Together they constitute a great summary of his book The Forgotten Ways.
I’ve appreciated Frost & Hirsch’s previous writing, their willingness to look at Jesus, community, and mission from a fresh perspective. Although I struggled through The Forgotten Ways, I definitely found the struggle worthwhile. ReJesus offers the same fresh perspective but from a much better pen. Either Frost or Hirsch have improved in their writing ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church!
The thesis of the book is that the Western church has overlooked the wild side of Jesus and under-emulated it. Sounds like Wild at Heart repackaged, but hardly!Attempting to retrieve the humanity of Christ, they build upon the theological foundations of imitatio Christi, the imitation of Christ. The notion that we should imitate Jesus was jettisoned from theological reflection for several centuries due to its moralistic overtones. Frost & Hirsch seem to be aware of these dangers, but it will be interesting to see how they relate their thesis to Chalcedonian christology.
In order to sufficiently reJesus the Church, they propose a three-fold focus (and take us on a Latin tour!): missio Dei, participatio Christi, & imago Dei. They write:
Those taken captive by the sight of Christ must be prepared for a reintegration of the theological concepts of missio Dei, participatio Christi, and imago Dei. These three concepts are foundational for a rediscovery of missional practice in our time. They are also foundational for us to reJesus the church in the West.
They go on to claim that a fresh perspective on mission, Jesus, and church will release Christianity into a renewed level of impact. I’m excited to keep reading but concerned about some of the conclusions. Already they have mixed theological concepts that are at odds, affirming total depravity in one breath and prevenient grace in the next. Hopefully thier missiological creativity will not outpace theological integrity!
In addition to holding to a clear vision, missional leadership involves facilitating the emergence of novelty by building and nurturing networks of communications; creating a learning culture in which questioning is encouraged and innovation is rewarded; creating a climate of trust and mutual support; and recognizing viable novelty when it emerges, while allowing the freedom to make mistakes. – Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, 233
Unfortunately, it is precisely this question-asking and viable novelty that most leaders fear. The traditional, modern paradigms of leadership advocate a top-down, answer-possessing, anti-novelty approach. Yet, if we will lead remaining open to the power and insight of the Spirit in the Church, we will reap dividends and live out the priesthood of the believers! Oh, do I have room to grow in this!