Great Gift: The Forgotten Ways - $10

I got an email this morning form the Barna Group and noticed that they were selling Alan Hirsch's book for $10 plus s&h. This is a fantastic book on missional engagement. If you haven't read it - buy it as a gift for yourself. If you have, then you would certainly want to give it to someone this Christmas! Click here.

Here is my summary of the book:

Jesus did not start a religion; He started a movement of spiritually transformed people on mission with Him. To better understand this movement from a historical perspective as well as its expression in the 21st century, Alan Hirsch’s The Forgotten Ways is a must read. Drawing on his own experiences in Australia, and both the 1st century movement in the early church and the 20th century movement in China, Hirsch unpacks the basic components of spiritual movements.

He details the “quintessential elements that combine to create Apostolic Genius” which are present in every believer: 1) Christocentric Monotheism: “Jesus is Lord”, 2) Disciplemaking, 3) Missional-Incarnational Impulse., 4) Apostolic Environment, and 5) Organic Systems, and 6) Communitas, not Community. Each of these chapters builds a deeper understanding of the foundational building blocks of movements. He also provides a valuable understanding of a missional church (p. 82) and the dangers of consumerism (p. 109).

Every missional leader should read this book to fully comprehend the process of multiplying disciples; “it is the essential task of discipleship to embody the mission of Jesus.” (p 102).


Becoming Missional: what will you abandon?

Too many churches in America are failing to make disciples of non-disciples. The mission of many churches is internally focused on more people, more money, and more buildings, rather than externally focused on the mission of Jesus. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, has discovered that it is not what you add to your life, it is what you abandon that will make the difference.

Churches need to abandon those beliefs and practices that hinder the expansion of the kingdom. Churches in America must no longer measure success by size, must no longer be preoccupied with buildings and property, must no longer focus on Christian education without emphasizing life transformation, must no longer focus on the church instead of the harvest, and must no longer depend on professional clergy to do the work of ministry, discipleship, and evangelism. Instead, they must train every member to engage those in the culture with the gospel.

What is God telling you to abandon?


Missionary Preparation

Missionaries are needed to transform America. Local churches must prepare missionaries for both global and local ministry. Jesus is the One who sends; local churches are to prepare those whom He is sending. Every believer is sent somewhere—either to their local culture or to a distant culture. George W. Peters (former professor of world missions at Dallas Theological Seminary) notes,

The Bible does not make such geographical distinctions in connection with the call to the ministry of the Word. Certainly the apostles were not aware of the fact that they all would be led into “foreign missions” when the Lord called them and appointed them to apostleship. The choice of the geographical area of service is a matter of individual leading, but not a matter of the call. The Bible does not distinguish between a call for the home field and a call for the foreign field. (A Biblical Theology of Missions, Chicago: Moody Press, 1972, p 276)

The training of every believer as a missionary who is sent to their neighborhoods and workplaces is the responsibility of every church leader. Every Christian must adopt a “missionary mindset”—knowing that they have been sent with the gospel in community to the culture.


Thoughts on Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is critical to transforming the mission of local churches.

As it has been said, “Speed of the leader, speed of the team.” Until pastors and church planters actually start practicing what Jesus modeled, church members will keep doing what they have always done. It is only as church leaders are being transformed by the Holy Spirit and initiating missional activities themselves that the Church will be able to fulfill its mission in the world. Local church leaders must model missionary behaviors and enlist, equip, and empower every believer to engage in missionary practices where they live. By understanding their calling, gifting, and responsibility to “prepare God’s people for works of service” (Eph 4:12), church leaders will be able to train others to be on mission everywhere. Equipping is more than preaching. It requires modeling, practical training, and mobilizing of believers to accomplish the Great Commission (Matt 28:19–20).


A Prodigal Christmas

As we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ this month, I want to share with you some thoughts from Henri Nouwen in his classic book The Return of the Prodigal Son (pp 55-57). He helps me to picture the coming of Jesus in a totally different way.

“Jesus himself became the prodigal son for our sake. He left the house of his heavenly Father, came to a foreign country, gave away all that he had, and returned through his cross to his Father’s home. All of this he did, not as a rebellious son, but as the obedient son, sent out to bring home all the lost children of God.”

“Jesus is the prodigal son of the prodigal Father who gave away everything the Father had entrusted to him so that I could become like him and return with him to his Father’s house.”

“The eternal Son became a child so that I might become a child again and so re-enter with him into the Kingdom of the Father.”

Can you imagine one day hearing our Father say, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet; let us eat and celebrate! Because my children who, as you know, were dead have returned to life; they were lost and have been found again! My prodigal Son has brought them all back.”

I learned something this year from my daughter – I learned that the word “prodigal” doesn’t mean “wayward.” According to the dictionary it means “recklessly extravagant.” It describes someone who spends until there is nothing left.

Isn't that an awesome way to view the coming of Jesus into this world? He came with "reckless extravagance" so that we could be reconciled to God.
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