Review: The Forgotten Ways
The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church
by Alan Hirsch
Alan Hirsch has done it again. He made my head hurt… and my heart.
In The Forgotten Ways Hirsch uses a lot of trendy church terminology like missional, DNA, emerging, etc. but this book is anything but a faddish critique of the western church. Rather it’s nothing short of a declaration of Revolution.
Where the Protestant Reformation reclaimed scripture from a professional, isolated clergy, this Protestant Revolution seeks to urge the Church today to reclaim scriptural living.
TFW is a very challenging book, and while I’d love for folks in my church to read it, I also wouldn’t want to scare them. First of all, Christian leaders would do well to put down “From Good to Great” and pick up TFW. While Collins’ book is awesome, it has become a little overused in some circles in church life as a primer for leadership.
I would encourage Christian leaders to first read Hirsch’s first salvo called The Shape of Things to Come and follow it up with TFW.
One of the tenets of TFW is essentially that we in the western church must become missionaries again in our thinking and strategy. Hirsch points to radical movements of God in history, including the early church’s first 200 years and the Chinese church and claims that there are inherent traits of of the people of God that enable such explosive growth, health and movement.
Where the church has stagnated, it has lot sight of its identity and ability in Christ. He presents in the book six components or elements to mDNA (missional qualities inherited by the innate people of God everywhere): 1. Jesus is Lord — This is the center. It’s a simple confession “that fully vibrates with the primal energies of the scriptural faith.” I love how he unpacks this confession and urges for us to make it more central in our lives and churches. 2. Disciple making — This is not optional. Too many of us in our churches have allowed the attractional model (ya’ll come!) to be our only strategy. We have not faithfully made disciples. We have unfortunately only created crowds. 3. Missional-Incarnational Impulse — this combines the outward focus of God’s people with the deepening impulse. We must remember that we are “on mission,” and that mission requires infiltration and penetration into our communities. 4. Organic systems — We must rethink how we are structured and organized in order to be fluid and effective. 5. Communitas, not community — “Community” too often conjures ideas of warm feelings while the idea of communitas communicates people on mission together.
All in all, it will be a book that hurts your head and your heart at the same time. However, it is akin to what needs to happen when you discover a life threatening illness. You welcome the knife of the surgeon because it can bring renewed energy and health.