I would highly recommend a book by Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford titled “Right Here Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People.” I was fortunate enough to be provided a copy in a special pre-release directly from Baker Books for review purposes. You can purchase a paperback copy for under $11 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Right-Here-Now-Everyday-Shapevine/dp/0801072239/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1295052709&sr=8-2) or directly from the publisher at http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=0477683E4046471488BD7BAC8DCFB004&nm=&type=PubCom&mod=PubComProductCatalog&mid=BF1316AF9E334B7BA1C33CB61CF48A4E&tier=3&id=05F4609ECC7E4345B1AD42FC8434B7C5.
The authors suggest, “We are perfectly designed to achieve what we are currently achieving. If Christianity is in decline, at least part of the issue goes to the contemporary way we live out faith in a watching world. But this is not what Jesus intended. The church that Jesus designed is made for impact – and massive, highly transformative impact at that” (Hirsch and Ford, 30). They go on to quote the words of Jesus that read, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ” (Matthew 16:18-20, ESV). This does not sound like a church that is hunkering down or blending in. How often have I heard this passage and read it myself without realizing that it is Christ and his church that is on the advance? The church has been commissioned with the Cause of confessing Jesus and his defeat of death (and gift of life). And the gates – the very safety and security of Hell – will be shattered.
Hirsch and Ford propose, “In short, what is needed from us is the willingness to move with the Move of god that is the gospel. [They] suggest that there are are a number of movements needed on our behalf if we are indeed going to partake of the movement that Jesus started” (35).
* Move out (into missional engagement)
One person can make a difference. Find a place in the community to serve on behalf of Christ. Find a place to change a life through practical acts of kindness, story, and prayer. I am going to do this by volunteering in the local prison. I want to remember those who have been forgotten and bring hope to those who might have lost all hope they had left.
* Move in (burrowing down into the culture)
Find a neighborhood and stay there. Go to the same places to shop, for coffee, and other personal business. Know their names. Listen to their challenges. Contribute. I would say that a local church might consider ways to invest in local businesses. For example, if I was to ever plant a church I would not want my own building – that way at least my lease would help a local school, movie theatre, or community center. In fact, maybe it is that we ask them what our monthly cost is and actually find ways to give them more rather than less. Or if we did have property, we would ensure that the property was a blessing to the neighborhood on a daily basis – a coffee shop or community center – and maybe that coffeehouse would serve the coffee of a local roaster rather than a less expensive larger brand name.
* Move alongside (engaging in genuine friendships and relational networks)
A church needs to find ways to celebrate with the city when they celebrate and mourn with the city when they mourn. Find ways to partner with local events rather than create your own. And make sure that the church scatters to the places that need support – hospitals, pregnancy centers, hospices, etc.
* Move from (challenging the dehumanizing and sinful aspects of our culture)
The church offers a culture of life. Adopting the orphans, respecting the women, feeding the homeless, etc.
Official Book Description: No matter where you are, you are on a mission. You have concern for others. You want to be involved in solutions. You want to live your life for Jesus. You want to be a missional Christian. But what does that really mean? How can you live out God’s mission in the world, right here, right now? In this inspiring yet practical book, Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford show you how to live missionally regardless of your situation, vocation, or location. Touching on issues of discipleship, spirituality, and church at every level of experience, “Right Here, Right Now” calls you to be the person God has made you to be.
Official Author Descriptions: Alan Hirsch is founding director of Forge Mission Training Network and cofounder of Shapevine.com, an international forum for engaging with world-transforming ideas. Currently he leads an innovative learning program called Future Travelers which helps megachurches become missional movements. He is the author of numerous books, including “The Forgotten Ways”, and coauthor of “Untamed.” Hirsch lives in the Los Angeles area.
Lance Ford is the cofounder and director of Shapevine.com, and the former director of the Northwood Church Multiplication Center. With more than 20 years of experience as a pastor and church planter, Lance is a writer, coach, consultant, and an adjunct professor. Ford and his wife live in Kansas City, Missouri.