I’ve been waiting years for Alan Hirsch to write this book, ever since the unforgettable Forgotten Ways which is a core text now for the Transformational Leadership course I teach at WTC. This builds on that groundbreaking work and goes deeper still.
I’ll declare that I got a free e-copy for review but I just ordered the paperback because like Forgotten Ways this will end up multi-coloured and with scribbles all over. Kindle says I’m 20% through it and it seems like I only just picked it up, I was so engrossed. I’ll blog again when I get my breath back and having let my thoughts settle.
For those of us who are in church leadership and used to Hirsch, my question is, ‘HOW THE HECK CAN YOU GET USED TO HIRSCH?’ If you actually read books with a mindset of implementation not just interest, his challenge to present day western ecclesiology changes EVERYTHING. Or it should. I just pray it’s not to late – the ongoing focus in denominations on ordaining some more people into the old system rather than seeing they are already ordained and equipping every disciple for the new situation makes me wonder.
Anyway let me tell you about 5Q.
Alan starts by encouraging us to stop over-analysing details as that leads to reductionism. Big questions need a softer focus to see the whole picture. A symphonic understanding of how the parts fit together to make a whole. 5Q is “the synergy as a holistic recombination of the APEST capacities in Ephesians 4.” You’ll get that if you’ve read his previous works, if not don’t panic it gets clear as we move on. Basically it’s time that as Wimber said, ‘Everyone gets to play.’
Alan is from a Jewish background and says to learn from a rabbi you have to be willing to unlearn before you can learn. That’s repentance. With regard to church, “if you want a transformational Gospel movement.. you are going to have to unlearn some very ancient churchly habits and be willing to relearn some…authentically biblical ones.”
The leader’s job here? Take responsibility for being part of the problem, and to be part of the solution.
We live in a time where the world has regulated Christianity to a private choice, but the church still operates out of a Christendom paradigm. Result? Decline in every western setting.
Hirsch is fond of saying when I’ve heard him live, “the systems we are presently working are perfectly designed to produce the results we are seeing.” We must audit the current ecclesial system! And this requires different thinking from that which has created the problems.
The church has tried to change through structural or organisational fixes, whether episcopal, eldership, pastoral or CEO style leadership. But structural solutions can’t repair the system, instead they “hinder the agency and ministry of the whole people of God by professionalising the ministry and creating dependencies that ensure the people of God remain immature and unformed.”
How’s all that for an introduction? Some books don’t have that much good stuff all the way through and we’re not at Chapter One.
Well I am, it was a deep study in Ephesians 4 and the need to release the APEST nature of the church with challenging applications, chiefly “The historical reduction of ministry down from the fivefold ministry of the New Testament to that of Christendom’s twofold function of shepherding and teaching has bequeathed a fatal and degenerative dis-ease into the Body of Christ.”
I’m reading on, convicted and convinced of how I have contributed to the current mess and how I’m part of the future mission.This is scary stuff! Especially if you’re working in a mainline denomination or thinking of doing so you may need to read it by torchlight under the bedsheets. It may put some like me who are ‘in ministry’ out of a job! But if that means we discover again what ministry the Jesus way is about, who cares? He’s coming soon!
I’ll keep blogging about it – but if you’re any kind of leader ( you are or you wouldn’t have read this far) the church of tomorrow needs you to immerse yourself in this book.