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The Shaping of Things to Come,: Innovation And Mission For The 21St-Century Church [Paperback]

Alan Hirsch
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 13.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 2013
If ever there was a time for an innovative missionary effort in the West, it is now.
The great paradox of our age is that while the need for the gospel has seldom been greater, the relevance of the church to the culture at large has seldom been less. With keen insight, thought leadrs Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost explore why the church needs to recalibrate itself and present present us with a clear understanding of how the church can adapt to face the unique challenges of the twenty-first century. Now thoroughly revised and updated with current case studies, this missional classic still shows us the way ahead.

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The Shaping of Things to Come,: Innovation And Mission For The 21St-Century Church + The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church + The Forgotten Ways Handbook: A Practical Guide for Developing Missional Churches
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; Revised edition edition (1 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801014913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801014918
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Alan Hirsch is founding director of Forge Mission Training Network and cofounder of, 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.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars revolution or evoluntion 3 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book sees the church in the Western world is in crisis. Numbers of Christians attending church is at record low and Christendom is dead with the loss of Christian influence. It seems the institution of the church doggedly gripping onto the last vestiges of the old ways dying at its core. Frost and Hirsch boldly state we need revolution not evolution to bring the church in the West into a second reformation . It is a popular book with pioneering ministries with which I am involved. It centres on the need for an ‘Apostolic’ movement as “the mode of the New Testament church - to describe something of its energy, impulse, and genius as well as its leadership structures.” It seems the missional approach of revitalising the first century Christian spirit to recapture the determination to preach Christ even if we are martyred for so doing.
It has a bold style: starting by demanding “you read this first” and the reader 'will find it unnerving'. I have concentrated on the last section ‘Apostolic Leadership’ as this is the theme of this module. The APEPT theology is imaginatively argued. There are five types of leaders essential for this church revolution rather than the Pastor/Teacher roles that seminaries present train for. This theme is widened to five ministries of congregants and its is in favour of devolved ‘Eco-leadership’ and small but numerous church plants or cells. . “We believe such a matrix is the antidote to the triangular or hierarchical model that empowers certain leaders and dis-empowers the majority of Christians.”
I chose it knowing it was from a differing theological perspective to my own; hoping to be challenged.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evangelism in Post Christian Culture 22 Nov 2012
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This book may shock the traditionalist, but the Billy Graham style outreach no longer brings in the seekers. Why? because over the last 20 years the culture has changed. Without compromising the Gospel, this book analyses the cultural changes and suggests new ways to engage culture with examples of successes. We expect people to come to church, but this book is encouraging Church to go to the people, to get out of our comfort zones, and really think what Christendom has created and how this is a barrier to effective evangelism.
This book will challenge the reader and may disturb the vicar who is often entrenched in a comfort zone of traditionalism.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Historical Anti-history with Western Implications 22 Aug 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
It is true we are living in changing times. Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch not only recognize this as a historical truth, but they offer a theological proposition for what the authors consider the impending irrelevance of the current church. Indeed quite an indictment, the theological judgment is coupled with an offer of a major shift in thinking for the Christian church of the West. This book is an Australian perspective on the current state of the Western church that both bites and instructs (or what many theologians mean by "informs").
Frost and Hirsch build their argument by declaring their own orthodoxy, and yet the book is really written to promote "emerging missional communities" that are not particularly concerned with orthodoxy. Say Wha? The book is intended to give legitimacy to the emerging church and to justify its role in missiology by providing a vocabulary for the current praxis. The authors construct their line of reasoning by surveying what they call the Christendom church, the church as has existed from Constantine up to the present day, and then exposing the inherent weaknesses and growing irrelevance in that approach. After a quick overview of what the authors define as biblical Christianity, they promote an alternative post-Christendom church that is radically different from Constantine's baby.
The authors unabashedly borrow terms from a wide variety of theological camps to support their proposition that Christendom-thinking has almost died, laying in the casket already and stinking. By identifying with the postmodern culture, the authors instead advocated a "wholesale change in the way Christians are doing and being the church" (ix). The book is not intended to be prescriptive, but the authors do cite many current models in their advocacy for the creativity they say is necessary to reach post-Christendom.
To build their argument further, Frost and Hirsch define Christendom-thinking (remember Constantine?) by discussing four of its main elements. First, the traditional church has been an attractional model where lost people are asked to come to a building to find Christ. Second, there has been a dualistic framework for separating the sacred from the secular. As such, Christendom has placed a premium on sacred places for meeting. Third, the Christendom model is hierarchal with a separation of clergy and laity. Fourth, even the sacraments have become institutionalized and have lost their meaning.
The authors counter this irrelevant model with a post-Christendom church model. Instead of being attractional, Frost and Hirsch advocate a missional approach with the church going to the lost instead of asking them to come to church. They also advocate neutral space where lost people can be met in a nonthreatening environment. They say that average Christians should lead the ministry of the church instead of relying on a hierarchal system of authority. And they promote a messianic or Hebraic renewal of Christianity's initial roots to discover the deeper meaning behind the sacraments.
Part of what the authors promote is valid. The traditional church has indeed lost its understanding of meaning behind the tradition. But to advocate a radical overhaul of the church might be considered reckless, rebellious, and redundant (that would preach if I had a poem to close with). Frost's and Hirsch's argument is paradoxical at worst and a wake up call for the church at best.
Some of what the authors promote is reckless. To abandon the entire historical church model on the whims of one emerging culture might not be warranted. Granted the church should adapt the medium to reach the current generation, but the authors philosophically identify the medium as the message, so I think there is perhaps some confusion as to what defines the church at its core, the true biblical functions of the church and the reality of the gospel message.
The authors could also be accused of rebellion. Rebellion can be revolutionary (see Lenin). Rebellion could also be mutinous (see Bligh). Rebellion can also be foundational for a new identity (see Tea Party). I simply wonder if the great majority of Christian history needs corrective action versus switching sides.
Much of what the authors promote is redundant. Although the book is sprinkled with various diagrams and charts to identify the church and culture, it seems that most of the information presented is simply an integration of ideas from current social sciences. Their vocabulary is definitely fresh, but it seems that nothing the authors endorse is new to a healthy historical and biblical church model. The church has never previously used the term "not yet Christians," for example, but they have used the term prospects. Even their APEPT five-fold ministry formula is in reality an adaptation of the Pauline teaching method in Ephesians.
It is true that an unhealthy imbalance has been generated as the church has historically ignored apostolic and prophetic leadership, but to say that it has been nonexistent is to be naive to Christian history. Therefore, the authors' arguments should not fall upon deaf ears in the West, but it should be read within a larger historical perspective. For this reason the book has some valid missiological implications for planting churches cross-culturally.
However, perhaps the greatest fault of the book is the potential to fall into the same snare for which it denounces the traditional church. Christendom established a certain mode of doing church. The authors identify both a new model and new mode for doing church, and almost in an either-or approach, they say the West should jump off the old wagon and onto the new. Even if the main points of the argument are valid, Frost and Hirsch would do well to balance their new vision with a broader historical perspective.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 20 Sep 2013
By Per-Arne Peterson - Published on
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It was as advertized... As far as the book is concerned it is very challenging in terms of its thesis.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read in a long time 13 Jun 2013
By Kristian Hernandez - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a slow read for me because it challenged me so many times that I had to put it down after every couple of pages. I feel as if the authors entered my world as a minster of the Gospel and turned upside down the assumptions/beliefs/practices that my understanding of ministry was built upon. Must read for any leader in the church that has sought to serve faithfully, but in the midst of serving has struggled with a unsettled feeling that something is missing in our work. This book answered many of those questions and then some!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book 3 Jan 2012
By darrell - Published on
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There are a lot of authors in the Christian who like to be thought of as "future thinking." These guys really are. It will challange you as you think about how to lead your church into a new world and the changes needed to get there. Thought provoking.
5.0 out of 5 stars go buy this book! 3 July 2014
By kim mitchel - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was an amazing book. It complemented m y studies in New church plant and church renewal. I think it is a must read for every pastor and/or leadership team of a church.
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