Wednesday, January 02, 2008


on account of barnes and noble gift cards and additional eagerly received gifts, i am currently engaging in a media orgy. one of the most fascinating books i am currently reading is the forgotten ways by alan hirsch.

early on in the book, hirsch persuasively argues that the western church will not be able to effectively participate in Christ's ongoing mission of redemption if we do not reconsider and re-envision our ecclesiology. drawing on an i.t. analogy, hirsch suggests that the church needs to quit focusing on software such as church growth techniques so that we can focus on fully redesigning our hardware, which - i think - he would define as our functional ecclesiology. in sum, hirsch is suggesting that the church will not operate effectively and efficiently unless the objectives and aims of the church are carefully redesigned and comprehensively embraced by the community of Christ.

i'm still working through hirsch's argument at this point, but i think his assessment of the western church's malnourished ecclesiology and his call to ecclesiological revitalization is prescient. moreover, since hirsch is a progeny of the Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ/Independent* Christian Church, Church of Christ, a movement that is deeply rooted in missional pragmatism and almost completely free of creedal or institutional impediments, i think he is well situated to explore creative ways to incarnate Christ and participate in his mission in the postmodern world.

since i, and not a few of my readers, share hirsch's campellite roots, i think we should listen carefully to his argument and consider ourselves blessed to participate in a tradition that is, ideologically at least, open to innovation. i know that there are a number of self-ordained "big men" in the campbellite tradition who either hesitant to embrace ecclesiological innovation or eager to condemn it outright. however, since our "big men" are bereft of institutional and theological authority, emerging leaders are completely free to carefully rethink our understanding of the Church and pursue Christ's mission as we please.

i am grateful for this freedom and more convinced than ever that we should follow in the footsteps of our innovative forbears by participating in Christ's mission in new, meaningful and powerful ways.

if you're interested in this discussion at all, i would love to hear what you have to say.

* i have long thought that the phrase "independent christian church" is a rather ridiculous oxymoron and my opinion on this matter is not likely to change.

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