Alan and Debra Hirsch – UNTAMED at #Cat 10

Seminar by missiologist Alan Hirsch and co-writer (and wife!) Debra Hirsch on true discipleship. Anyone who’s read The Forgotten Ways knows this has to be good. Anyone who hasn’t read it really¬†should! They are a couple of way cool Aussies.


Not sure at the moment whether I’ll come back for the evening lab session or just get the CD. Have to finish the last chapter of my book while I’m over here!

Their new book is called UNTAMED. They wrote it in Idaho – in a snowstorm. It’s all about discipleship.

What’s missional discipleship?

Discipleship is a strategic issue. Fail there, fail everywhere. Churches that really change the world are raising disciples that change their world. They were together in church ministry for 16 years in Melbourne. Obviously there are highs and lows in that. Some people, friends, didn’t remain on the path of discipleship..

What are the obstacles on that path?

1) Theological – when we get God wrong, we’ll be wrong all over the place. Now we all get theology wrong – in heaven we’ll find we did well to get 6 out of 10 for that – but we need to be clear on the Trinity.

2) Consumerism. Money, Richard Foster’s Money Sex & Power should be required reading. Materialism is an alternative religion. It’s the air we breath and don’t even notice. More, more, more – and craving recognition etc. People get identity, belonging, purpose etc fro what they buy

3) Church. What we do and how we are is very consumerist. put the money on the plate and did I get anything out of it? Get rid of clergy/laity divide. Men & women in partnership.

4) Personal. (Identity & sexuality). These are huge issues for the church. What IS the family?

Missional Incarnational practices. 6 Ps in the book to bring into our lives to do that.

The Bible is explicit in talking about idolatry. Anything that takes us away from loyalty to God. Discipleship is removal of idols.

We need to look at Monotheism. Tim Keller has written a book on Money sex & Power too and frames it as idolatry. To engage our culture with only ‘you are a sinner before a holy God’ and they don’t feel guilty before we make them feel better that’s not going to us being good news folk.

Idolatry is how to engage in modern people. Do you feel like a sinner? No.

Do you feel obsessed with relationships? Overworked – yes.

When Deut 6 talks about God as One – it says that in the context of their being many gods worshipped in various spheres of life (agriculture, work, family etc). The Shema declares Yahweh is ONE. He claims all aspects of our lives. You are not to distribute your life across all the other Gods.

This is the metaphor of discipleship – to bring your whole life under God and away from those idols that offer much but give nothing.

Discipleship = offering my will back to God. The one God.

We find ourselves overwhelmed by all the competing gods. CS Lewis says you can love even your wife too much if you love her more than God. First& second loves.

This is Shema spirituality. Jesus said there’s only this – Love the one God, and love people.

Now we could say didn’t the people of Israel confess monotheism but practice polytheism?

Don’t we?

We have to look at how we worship the One God.

We have made the nuclear family an idol – we’ve bought into a pattern which closes off our family. If we lived more like and extended, embracing family – brings in your friends etc – broaden it out. Refocus the family! It’s become about looking after me & mine instead of looking to the world around us.

When we look at evangelism – we have an idea about passing on information about Jesus that calls forth a response. But we have to look at it in the context of discipleship.

Cf, The great commission. We’re to disciple the nations. There is pre-conversion discipleship and post-conversion discipleship. Invest in people far from God, work with the Imago Dei in them and then after that – it’s the Imago Christi. This commits us relationships all along the journey.

In social set theory they look at closed & bounded sets. Some are IN and OUT and there are walls of conformity to show who is who and where they are.

Traditional model – We are IN church. We go OUT to the world and get people to BELONG, BELIEVE the same as us and BEHAVE the same. It’s all about getting them to conform. Then our job’s done.

Jesus clearly addressed that model in many parables! because some people who look in and out and vice versa. We tend to focus on the externals.

More helpful model = the centred set. Jesus is at the centre – and everyone is in some way relating to Jesus. Some are way away and facing away. Some are close and facing in. We are to disciple everyone not just the Christians. Point them all to the CENTRE.

Our role is to call forth the Image of God in everyone. They are created in the Image of God, so while sin is very real and a destructive force; it’s marred the image.

A Japanese tourist met afarmer in the outback. Saw a lot of sheep roaming about. Asked, ‘There are no fences ¬†– how do you keep them in?’

Answer – “We don’t need to build fences – we just dig a well and the sheep don’t wander very far.”

If we believe Jesus is the living water, we don’t major on rules and regulations. (High conformity)

Instead – Taste and see!

When we Jesus disciples born again?

Probably at Pentecost – they were pre conversion disciples until then. Relationally rich & loved.