the forgotten ways

January 9, 2008 | 1 Comment

This week, I finished reading The Forgotten Ways, by Alan Hirsch. With the forming of a new faith community in our near future, this will likely be one of the most important books I’ve read, and it will be one I revisit often in the next few months.

Hirsch makes a call to the church to rediscover the Apostolic Genius that helped it thrive in the first few centuries, and has been at the heart of the Chinese church. He argues that the current structure of much of the church is not poised to meet our rapidly changing culture.

As I often do, rather than spend a lot of words summarizing or reviewing, I’ll pass along some thoughts from the book I found compelling and worth thinking about. In this case, the list is a little bit longer than usual — and I cut it down quite a bit!

  • The whole organism can be reproduced from one single cell. So I come to believe that every church, indeed every Christian, if truly birthed in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, has the full coding of mDNA and therefore has direct access to the power of Apostolic Genius. It is there, only the more institutional forms have simply forgotten or surpressed it, because its primal and uncontrollable nature represents danger to the institution itself — it is so different and uncontainable. (pg. 77)
  • Consumerism as it is experienced in the everyday and discipleship as it is intended in the scriptures are simply at odds with each other. (pg. 110)
  • Inspirational leadership can be described as a unique kind of social power that comes from the personal integration and embodiment of great ideas, as opposed to the power that comes from some form of authorization of external or structural authority like that of government, corporation, or religious institution. (pg. 117)
  • If this is not already obvious by now, let me say it more explicitly: the quality of a church’s leadership is directly proportional to the quality of discipleship. If we fail in the area of making disciples, we should not be surprised if we fail in the area of leadership development. (pg. 119)
  • It’s hard to critique the genuine sincerity of outreach and evangelism that aims at growing the church. In so many ways, it is right, and it feels right, and at times it has been very effective. But I have come to believe it was not the way the early church operated, and neither is it present in other genuine expressions of Apostolic Genius. (pg. 128)
  • By my reading of the scriptures, ecclesiology is the most fluid of the doctrines. (pg. 143)
  • All authentic apostolic ministry does this. Apostles are not just hot-headed entrepeneurs; they are also working theologians — or at least ought to be if they are genuinely apostolic. (pg. 156)
  • the church in is most phenomenal form (when it genuinely manifests Apostolic Genius) organizes itself as a living organism that reflects more how God has structured life itself, as opposed to a machine, which is the artificial, inorganic alternative to a living system. (pg. 180)
  • Planting a new church, or remissionalizing an existing one, in this approach isn’t primarily about buildings, worship services, sizes 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. (pg. 185)
  • We must constantly subject our institutions to prophetic critique, because it is the prophet, in his or her simply call to faithfulness to God alone, that is most aware of the dangers of the claims that institutions make on faith. (pg. 195)
  • Adaptive leadership, on the other hand, is displayed by the type of leader who develops learning organizations and manages to help the organization transition into different forms of expression where agility, responsiveness, innovation, and entrepeneurship are needed. (pg. 255)

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