on 31 August 2005
Finally, a book which offers a real alternative to the contemporary church leadership mindset. Frost and Hirsch's most important point in this book which contains so much good stuff, is that Christ's desire for his people, the church, is to be a transforming presence in the world - an Incarnation. They illustrate, in slightly tongue in cheek fashion, the way that the church has signed up pretty much wholesale to an Attractional model of church - essentially tipping the great commission on its head, turning Christ's 'Go' into 'Come'.
I really hope loads of church leaders read this book and begin to realise that attracting people to their building is totally NOT what their job is about, Jesus came to destroy the temple and rebuild it out of living stones.
on 3 May 2010
I found this book more enjoyable than Emerging Churches by Eddie Gibbs. It has better theological meat to it. The authors focus on four aspects of what the emerging church should be: missional, incarnational, messianic and apostolic. These four characteristics make up the four sections of the book. They use the term "messianic" to refer to holistic spirituality and "apostolic" to refer to the five-fold ministry.
Perhaps one of the books biggest faults is the sweeping generalizations that it makes. For example, "Dualism has for over 1,700 years created Christians that cannot relate their interior faith to their exterior practice." (pg 19) They also seem to be saying in the first two chapters that the church has failed to be missional since the time of Constantine. Did Wesley really not take the gospel to the people? Did the Salvation Army fail to engage its culture? Did we really have to wait 1,700 years for the "emerging" church to finally arrive and show us the way to really do church? I also felt that they may have made their case better if they had spent more time brining their ideas out of scripture than out of poems, Einstein quotes and films. Though most of us love films (less poems), most of us want to be careful in how we build God's church. I found most of their ideas to be biblical, even profoundly so; they just didn't do much work to show how they can be exegeted from scripture. They took some shots at "patriarchy" but did not attempt to show from scripture how patriarchy was unbiblical. In fact they seemed to use the word in the way that I would use the word "chauvinistic" which is something entirely different.
In spite of the overgeneralization about the death of the western church, the book does address some real problems. Failure to engage people outside of the church is a huge problem in many (not all) evangelical churches. The stories they highlight are inspirational and help point a way forward. I believe the emphasis they place throughout the book on shared proximity space is a key that would renew and refocus many churches back to health. Though they delve too little into scripture for my taste, they do a good job of laying solid theology for their view of the incarnation and it's implications for mission. I wish they had taken time to define the word "church" as well as they did the term "incarnational" which all too loosely thrown around in emerging church circles. Unlike other books by emerging authors, these actually acknowledged and described a way in which church discipline was to be carried out by the elders. (p.57) I liked their explanation of the distinction (ch. 10) between ministry gifting and leadership. I liked where I thought chapter eight on "Action as Sacrament" was trying to go...though I am not sure it ever arrived there. I would recommend Tim Keller's book "Ministries of Mercy" to anyone wanting to explore this theological theme greater depth and clarity.
The stories were the highlight for me. The examples they give of how people are actually living these principles out awoken a hunger in me to do more of the same.
on 25 November 2008
At the start I found this book interesting, which it is. But, I think it makes very sweeping and generalizing statements about the 'traditional church' many of which seem to be unfounded, or made on the basis of one visit. Some of the things they were suggesting seemed plausible, others not so. I would recommend reading this book if you are interesting in the church of this century, but I myself did not enjoy, or agree with a lot of the things they said.