I would highly recommend a book by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch titled, “The Faith of the Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure, and Courage.” I was fortunate enough to be provided two copies in a special pre-release directly from Baker Books for review purposes (I am going to give the second copy to my lead pastor). You can purchase a paperback copy for under $12 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Leap-Embracing-Adventure-Shapevine/dp/0801014158) or directly from the publisher at http://www.bakerbooks.com/ME2/Audiences/dirmod.asp?sid=0477683E4046471488BD7BAC8DCFB004&nm=&type=PubCom&mod=PubComProductCatalog&mid=BF1316AF9E334B7BA1C33CB61CF48A4E&tier=3&id=65207936567F49BB9D3565DB66451C90.
My favorite chapter was titled “Mission Catalysis.” Frost and Hirsch propose, “For way too long now the church has been satisfied to allow worship to act as the organizing principle of the rest. This most evident in the way that the Sunday/weekend worship services have become the epicenter of a church’s life…Most of the staff’s effort, and most of the budget, goes into producing the weekend worship experiences focused on and around various demographic groups…” (167).
They go on to say, “So much is the worship seen as catalyst that in most cases planting a new church is perceived as being synonymous with launching a new worship service!” The assumption is that if we start a new worship meeting, a church will emerge from that regular meeting” (169).
Think about it. What seems to be the primary way we gauge if someone is doing “okay” spiritually? In most cases, it is if they are attending a worship gathering on a regular basis. As long as they stay involved then everything seems to be just alright. But we become concerned if and when they go missing a week or two. Are we ever as equally concerned if they are not serving somewhere in their community? Or if they have not been sharing their faith with a neighbor? If they have not been loving towards their spouse? How do we measure someone’s spiritual health? By “faithfulness”? By obedience? Or by love?
Jesus taught, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, ESV).
This is one reason why I love the systems of Imago Dei of Portland, OR. As I understand it, they do not keep great stock in (or any stock at all, as I have heard) in their Sunday morning number. Instead, they only count the number of people actively involved in something outside of the church and in their own community. Big brother, neighborhood watches, pregnancy resource centers, community centers, etc. This is when they are considered a part of the faith community – when they begin on the mission. Not just when they “attend.” I guess what we “count” is what matters most to us.
The authors suggest, “So, we feel that we need to develop a mission-shaped view of the church, not a church-shaped view of mission” (171). Said another way, “We may wonder about what kind of mission God has for ‘my church,’ when we should be asking what kind of church God wants for his mission” (178).
Official Book Description: Put the adventure back in the venture. So much of our lives is caught up in the development and maintenance of security and control. But as Helen Keller observed, “Security is mostly a superstition. . . . Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” And when our only experience of Christianity is safe and controlled, we miss the simple fact that faith involves risk.
Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch challenge you to leave the idol of security behind and courageously live the adventure that is inherent in our God and in our calling. Their corrective to the dull, adventureless, risk-free phenomenon that describes so much of contemporary Christianity explores the nature of adventure, risk, and courage and the implications for church, discipleship, spirituality, and leadership.
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” and “Right Here, Right Now.” Hirsch lives in the Los Angeles area.
Michael Frost is vice principal of Morling College; founding director of the Tinsley Institute at Morling college in Sydney, Australia; and a Baptist minister. He is the author of Jesus the Fool, Seeing God in the Ordinary, and Exiles, and the coauthor of The Shaping of Things to Come. He lives in Australia.