Die boek sê die Westerse kerk benodig ‘n basiese paradigmaskuif: dit moet terugkeer na die wortels van die Christelike kerkwees, sodat die vergete “missional DNA” nuwe lewe kan gee vir die kerk en die wêreld.
• was ‘n missionêre predikant van ‘n ‘alternatiewe’ kerk in Melbourne, vir ‘n gemeenskap van gemarginaliseerde mense.
• was later ‘n ‘denominasionele offisier’wat hierdie gedagtes in gevestigde kerke probeer plant het.
• is nou die hoof van die Forge Mission Training Network
• het die denke van ‘n groot “missional” skrywer soos die Suid-Afrikaner David Bosch verteer.
Hirsch meen die heersende vorm van die kerk (Christendom) het ‘n struikelblok geword vir dieverspreiding van die Christendom in die Weste. Die ‘Christendom paradigma’werk nie meer goed nie.
(David Bosch said Christendom is “a society in which it is popular to be a Christian, in wich the Church is a respected part of society because it does not turn the world upside down.”)
100 jaar na Christus was daar 25,000 Christene.
In 310 nC was die syfer moontlik 20 miljoen.
In 60 jaar van sterk teenstand teen die Christendom, het die Chinese kerk gegroei van 2 miljoen tot meer as 100 miljoen.
Hoe het dit gebeur?
Why were/are they so dynamic, whereas mainline churches over time suffer from what sociologists call ‘the routinisation of charisma’?
Hirsch sê dit was/is as gevolg van 6 dinge wat latent in ons lê, maar wat ons vergeet het.
Hierdie dinge maak die apostolic genius van die kerk uit :
Jesus is die Here
Die belydenis vat grond in die harte van gelowiges. Die grense tussen heilig en wêrelds word afgebreek want alles behoort aan God. Jesus is die fokus van ons aandag.
Te midde van ‘n meesleurende verbruikersingesteldheid, word geloofwaardige volgelinge van Jesus gekweek
‘n Missionale inkarnasie-impuls
Bedieninge word gekweek vir spesifieke kultuurgroepe
Nie die georganiseerdheid van ‘n masjien nie, maar soos God die lewe gestruktureer het
‘n Apostoliese omgewing
Leierskap skep omgewings binne die kerk waar mense van buite kan deel word
Communitas (iets anders as geloofsgemeenskap)
Interafhanklikheid en medemenslikheid in ‘n onstabiele leefwêreld
¬Oor veilige geslotenheid (wat die dood bring) en gevaar of risiko (wat communitas – en lewe – kan bring)
Finding Nemo contains some lessons for us: Without any real engagement with the ‘outside world’, churches so quickly become sheltered artificial environments, ecclesial fish tanks that are safeguarded from the danger and disturbances in the surrounding environment. They become closed systems with their own peculiar cultures that have little relational, social, and cultural associations to the world outside (and we call this holiness) People coming in are perceived to be introducing worldly bugs into the church. So they ‘clean them up’ quick-fast. To push the metaphor just a little further, these closed systems are generally maintained by people, themselves significantly cloistered from the world, who feed the insiders, and keep things stable, nice, clean, and free from disturbances. I don’t intend to be mean and cynical here, but does this not at least sound like more than a hint of the average church? Honestly? My own experience says it does. And once again this does not imply that God is not to be found in such places—clearly He is. But it does seem that He is more often found in these places by the ‘found’ and not by the ‘lost’ because the ‘lost’ can’t seem to find their way to it…
The problem is that when a system is closed and artificial, and has generally not cultivated adaptability and internal variety, it will ultimately deteriorate towards equilibrium. And in living systems total equilibrium means death—if your body is in perfect equilibrium you are officially…kaput. Contrary to what we might feel, danger and risk can be good, even necessary, for us. It is liminality that can create communitas or it can destroy us. Alfred North Whitehead once remarked that without adventure, civilization is in full decay. The same is equally true for the church. And once again, it is the largely because we have structured community in isolation from any real engagement with the world. We are missing a communitas experience because we are missing the missional component that takes us out of our safety zones into risky engagement with the world.
Oor die reis van die geloof: saam in gevaar
One of the things that the story of Abraham, the mateship of sports teams, the desperate comradeship of war veterans, the fellowship of the Lord of the Rings, and the mad messianic rabbits of Watership Down, teach us is that the journey itself is important. That maturity and self-actualization require movement and risk, and that adventure is actually very good for the soul. They all teach is that a deep form of togetherness and love is found when we embark on a common mission of discovery, when we encounter danger together and have to find each other in the process in order to survive.
We find all these elements in the way Jesus formed his disciples as together they embarked on a journey away that took them from their homes, family, and securities (be they social or religious) and set out on an adventure that involved liminality, risk, action reflection learning, communitas, and spiritual discovery.
On the way their fears of inadequacy and lack or provision faded only to be replaced by a courageous faith that went on to change the world forever.
Oor gestuur-wees as die beginsel waarvolgens ons organiseer
In a remark ascribed to Gordon Cosby, the pioneering leader of that remarkable community, Church of the Savior in Washington. DC, he noted that in over 60 years of significant ministry, he had observed that no groups that came together around a non-missional purpose (i.e. prayer, worship, study, etc.) ever ended up becoming missional. That it was only those groups that set out to be missional in the first place (while embracing prayer, worship, study, etc. in the process) that actually got to doing it. This observation fits with all the research done by Carl George and others that indicate that the vast majority of church activities and groups, even in a healthy church, are aimed at the insiders and fail to address the missional issues facing the church in any situation.
If evangelizing and discipling the nations lie at the heart of the church’s purpose in the world, then it is mission, and not ministry, that is the true organizing principle of the church. Mission here, is being used in a narrow sense here to suggest the church’s orientation to the ‘outsiders’ and ministry as the orientation to the ‘insiders.’ Experience as tells us that a church that aims at ministry seldom gets to mission even if it sincerely intends to do so. But the church that aims at mission will have to do ministry, because ministry is the means to do mission. Our services, our ministry, need a greater cause to keep it alive and give it is broader meaning. By planting the flag outside the walls and boundaries of the church so to speak, the church discovers itself by rallying to it—this is mission. And in pursuing it we discover ourselves, and God, in a new way, and the nations both ‘see’ and hear the gospel and are saved.
Respons op Alan Hirsch se blog: Jake Meador on January 10th, 2009 7:11 pm
Alan – Really interesting post, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a bit as well and I’d like to get your thoughts on this question:
I’ve spent time in fundamentalism and in the seeker-sensitive megachurch world. It seems that fundamentalism focuses exclusively on mission, breeding a small clique of people whose love for each other is obvious but whose concern for the world is non-existent. Meanwhile, the megachurch model seems to emphasize mission, but it seems to have no interest in ministry and breeds a church of surfacey, immature people.
So this leaves me with a few questions:
Is there perhaps an organizing principle that can synthesize the need for mission and ministry? If such a principle exists, what is it? If it doesn’t, how do we avoid the excesses of the fundamentalists and the megachurches?
I’d love to get your thoughts because a pastor friend and I are wrestling with these issues right now in our local church.
Antwoord op blog deur Alan Hirsch , January 11th, 2009 3:22 am
Jake, short answer as I am abot to leave for LA. ….. Jesus! If we get it right at the level of Christology, the rest finds its true touchstone. Its when we move away from our christological foundation that it gets all sickie! Real Jesus. The Jesus of the Gospels Jesus. Not a churchly co-option of him.
Review of The forgotten ways
Almost all churches in typical western cities are competing for the same demographic. I would say that Canadians fit 15 to 20% in the “family values segment” versus 35% for the United States. To make this simple for everyone, the way we do church in Canada manages to avoid 75-80% of the population. According to George Barna, this is a shrinking segment which by 2025 is expected to decrease by half. Despite the fact that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is a definition of insanity, it is what we do.
Hirsch says on page 37: What is becoming increasingly clear is that if we are going to meaningfully reach the majority of people, we are not going to be able to do it by simply doing more of the same. And yet it seems that when faced with our problems of decline, we automatically reach for the latest church growth package to solve the problem–we seem to have nowhere else to go. But simply pumping up the programs, improving the music, and audiovisual effects, or jiggering the ministry mix won’t solve our missional crisis. Something far more fundamental is needed.
So what do we do about this? Well as Hirsch shares his experiences, changing the system does have some effect. As he diagrams out, on pages 43 and 33, moving from a pulpit ministry (5%) to a platform and programmed ministry (10% active in ministry) to a alternative worship gathering (20% of people involved). While 20% is a sizable improvement, it still leaves 80% uninvolved.
So how do we reach out to the remaining 80% of people who don’t have the church on their radar if church growth principles aren’t the answer? Hirsch draws a correlation that I don’t think I have read before but makes a lot of sense. Hirsch concluded that the fundamental issue was that they had been ineffective at making disciples, and so were failing at living missionally. We don’t do a good job in making disciples which undermines everything else we try to do as a church.
The phrase, “we cannot consume our way to discipleship” hit me hard. For years I proposed that if we could give people enough opportunities to learn, they would. Christians come to church to be fed and we are just feeding the idea of a consumption based faith, reinforces the church shopping ethos at the expense of undermining our efforts at discipleship before we can begin.
The alternative according to Hirsch is to move away from the idea of choices that come from consumerism and take a covenantal approach to discipleship which reminds me of some of what Stanley Hauerwas has written as a response to capitalism. How does that happen?
a. Becoming a cell church makes it harder to be passive.
b.. Adopt a covenant and some core practices, in stead of statements and values. In stead of appealing to the head, appeal to the feet.
c.. Each cell group practices spiritual disciplines.
Cultural barriers: The church is comfortable working with the”insiders”. Other groups were largely “missionary” concerns until the end of WWII.. But today we are surrounded by people in our neighborhoods behind a lot of different cultural barriers. In Christendom “outreach” often worked as the barriers to acceptance were much less. In post-Christendom and the pluralistic environment, the cultural distance has increased and our local context has become missional.
Hirsch breaks down the move from Christendom to now with this important thought on pg 60
With the breakup of the modern period and the subsequent postmodern period, things have begun to radically change. For one, the power of hegemonic ideologies has come to an end, and with that, the breakdown of the power of the state (e.g. the Soviet Union) and other forms of “grand stories” that bind societies and groups together in a grand vision. The net effect of that has been the resultant flourishing of sub cultures, and what sociologists call the heterogenization, or simply the tribalization, of western culture…
People now identify themselves less by grand ideologies, national identities, or political allegiances, and by much less grand stories: those of interest groups, new religious movements (New Age), sexual identity (gays, lesbians, transsexuals, etc), sports activities, competing ideologies (neo-Marxist, neofacist, eco-rats, etc.) class, conspicuous consumption (metrosexuals, urban grunge, etc), work types (computer geeks, hackers, designers, etc.), and so forth. On one occasion some youth ministry specialists I work with identified in an hour fifty easily discernible youth subcultures alone (computer nerds, skaters, homies, surfies, punks, etc.). Each of hem taks their subcultural identity with utmost seriousness, and hence any missional response to them must as well.
Hirsch uses Alpha as an example which while over three million people in the UK have participated, they have not been integrated into traditional churches. He points out that it is most successful with the dechurched and instead of being a missionary tool for the unchurched, pointed out that we often don’t reach very hard beyond our own walls (pg 63) Why don’t they want to go to church? It is the “Jesus yes, Church no.” phenomenon again where people come to faith in small informal groups but don’t want the organized part of the religion to be part of the deal. Hirsch suggests that the prevailing expression of church (Christendom) has become a major stumbling block to the spread of Christianity in the West.
So for those of you who are feeling uncomfortable, the good news is that it hasn’t always been done this way. Hirsch refers to Robert Webber and points out that we are probably closer to life in the early church than in Christendom (although being in a post-Christian society is radically different than being in a pre-Christian one of the early church). He quotes Loren Mead on page 66 who brings a healthy dose of reality to where we are at.
We are surrounded by the relics of the Christendom Paradigm, a paradigm that has largely ceased to exist to work. [These] relics hold us hostage to the past and make it difficult to create a new paradigm that can be as compelling for the next age as the Christendom paradigm has been for the past age.
Internet Kommentaar op die boek:
How do we discover our missional DNA (mDNA)? What caused the early churches to grow from 25,000 to 20 million in 200 years? How did the Chinese underground church grow from 2 million to over 100 million in sixty years despite considerable opposition, and without professional leaders, training facilities, or buildings?
Wonderful principles, which are very hard to apply in practice. Why? My contention would be that the radicalization of family-units which imbibe a Western consumer culture with their muesli every day is a very challenging and difficult task. Parents want a ‘safe place’ for their children – in ‘church’, as everywhere else. They want peer-reinforcement of Christian faith and values for their teenagers. They look to the weekly gatherings of the Christian community to provide spiritual food for the journey, which in terms of work-stress or family-stresses may be a real battle. So they bring expectations ‘to church’ as they do to every other facet of their privileged lives.
Christian communities come in four varieties (as do commercial retail enterprises) – megachurches (= shopping malls), boutiques, franchises, and ‘parish churches’ (= corner stores). Many ‘emerging church’ folks I meet despise the megachurch model, but they shop at supermarkets, for convenience and to save time. They’re at home with technology – they have lots of powerpoint presentations, and audio-visual effects – but are (healthily) wary of multiplying committees and programs. Above all, they know that re-jigging the ‘ministry mix’ won’t bring life and health and peace to their community-of-faith. But on the other hand, they too can easily form ‘clubs-for-people-like-us’ and forget their missional mandate.
Alan Hirsch writes: ‘We cannot consume our way to discipleship.’
“Strictly speaking one ought to say that the church is always in a state of crisis and that its greatest shortcoming is that it is only occasionally aware of it. This ought to be the case because of the abiding tension between the church’s essential nature and its empirical condition…. that there were so many centuries of crisis free existence for the church was therefore an abnormality… And if the atmosphere of crisislessness still lingers on in many parts of the West, this is simply the result of a dangerous delusion. Let us also know that to encounter crisis is to encounter the possibility of truly being the church.”
David Bosch, Transforming Mission
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