I would highly recommend a book by Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson titled, “On the Verge: A Journey into the Apostolic Future of the Church. I was fortunate enough to be provided a copy in a special pre-release directly from Zondervan for review purposes. You can purchase a paperback copy for under $14 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Verge-Journey-Apostolic-Future-Exponential/dp/0310331005/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1304311782&sr=8-1) or directly from the publisher athttp://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/ProductDetail.htm?ProdID=com.zondervan.9780310331001&QueryStringSite=Zondervan.
My favorite chapter was titled “Mission to the Mind and Heart.” Hirsch and Ferguson list a few myths presented in the institutional paradigm:
* Build it and they will come: Facilities are no longer the attraction.
* The church is the bastion of family values: The church that Jesus built is much more than this.
* The church is the guardian of society’s morals: In a post-Christendom, post-church, secular culture, the church no longer has that kind of status, legitimacy, and permission. Shouting louder ain’t going to help!
* We need clergy, buildings, and Sunday services in order to be a real church: Some of the greatest movements in history were launched by persecuted amateurs.
* We are a Bible-teaching church: The Western church has more theology, commentaries, training, and intellectual tradition than at any other time in history, and it certainly has not produced the desired revival . . . .
Jesus declared, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:4-11, ESV).
Hirsch and Ferguson ask, “How does a person make his or her home in Jesus? How do you personally make your home in Jesus? What does an intimate and organic relationship look like? How is this vital to unleashing our missional imagination?” (107). They envision multiplication church planting coupled with people on mission in every sphere sparking an apostolic movement. A “Movementum.” Imagine churches rapidly reproducing (not worrying about their own size and status) and people scattering all over their communities (not waiting for a ministry to be created or a service to be funded).
Official Book Description: Two prominent thought-leaders in church planting and mission express a comprehensive vision for a truly apostolic—that is, mission-sent—future of the church. In an idea laden book, they relate inspiring accounts of churches recapturing the apostolic ethos and vision, and explain how a missional approach can bring wholesale transformation to existing churches that want to be all that Jesus intended them to be.
The church is on the verge of massive, category shifting, change. Contemporary church growth, despite its many blessings, has failed to stem the decline of Christianity in the West. We are now facing the fact that more of the same will not produce different results. Our times require a different kind of church—an apostolic, reproducing, movement where every person is living a mission-sent life.
Many of the best and brightest leaders in the contemporary church are now making the shift in the way they think, lead, and organize. Motivated partly by a vision of the church as ancient as it is new, and with a driving desire to see Biblical Christianity establish itself in Western cultural contexts, we are indeed seeing a new form of the church emerge in our day. Hirsch and Ferguson call this “apostolic movement” because it is more resonant with the form of church that we witness in the pages of the New Testament and in the great missional movements of history.
In this book, Hirsch and Ferguson share a rich array of theology, theory, and best practices, along with inspiring stories about leaders who have rightly diagnosed their churches’ failure to embrace a biblical model of mission and have moved toward a fuller expression of the gospel. On the Verge will help church leaders discover how these forerunners and their insights are launching a new apostolic movement—and how any church can get involved.
Official Author Descriptions: Alan Hirsch is an award-winning author on various aspects of missional Christianity and co-founder of Future Travelers, an intentional learning journey for contemporary churches seeking to transition to becoming authentic movements . . . .
Dave Ferguson is a spiritual entrepreneur and the lead pastor of Community Christian Church, an innovative multi-site missional church with eleven locations in Chicago. Dave is the movement leader for NewThing, an international network of reproducing churches. He is also the coauthor of “The Big Idea.”