Thinking Out Loud

April 13, 2013

Book Review: The Faith of Leap

The Faith of LeapI am a huge fan of missional church planters Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, and even though The Faith of Leap isn’t a new title, I asked our friends at Graf-Martin (a book publicity agency) if they could track one down for me

There is a particular paragraph that I wish I had marked because Michael and Alan say it so much better, but essentially the message of this book is that local church congregations can move beyond simply gathering once a week to sing songs and listen to a sermon; and can actually team together in partnership to accomplish greater things.  This life of risk they call liminality, and the result is the church moves from community to communitas.

Late in the book, they also suggest that every person in every church can follow the command to “go” because “go” might mean “go deeper” into the heart of the neighborhood where that church is located. Either way, the book is a call to adventure; a call to churches to take a leap of faith driven by possessing the faith of leap.

…I mentioned that I was reading this to a local pastor who noted that Hirsch and Frost repeat a lot of material from book to book. This is true here, they do quote previous works frequently. However, I would recommend this book for anyone who has never read their material before, it is absolutely certain to challenge pastors, church leaders, and people like you and me.

January 22, 2009

The Re-Launching of WWJD: Frost and Hirsch

…The WWJD campaign invited us to imagine how Jesus would respond to the cultural and religious issues of our day.  However, this question tended to become captive to a religious pietism that limited the issue to private morality and then further trivialized into an international campaign that focused almost entirely on the sexual ethics of young adult Christians.   This is unfortunate, because WWJD has in it the capacity to become a global movement that takes the claims that Jesus makes over all of life seriously indeed.   We would like to relaunch the campaign but this time keeping the borader issues in mind as well.   What would Jesus do in the consumptive world in which we live?   How would he respond to the environmental crisis?  What would Jesus do with the banal depravities of reality television?  What would Jesus do with our money and our resources in a world of poverty and in need of grace of grace and rejesus1mercy.   …The lordship of Jesus cannot be limited to personal piety and must extend to all issues common to human experience.   WWJD must extend to the issues of economics, environment, and politics if we are to truly unlock the world-renewing power inherent in the question.

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch in ReJesus – A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church, © 2009 Hendrickson (USA) and Strand (Australia), p. 47

January 17, 2009

A New Use For That Empty Choir Loft

rejesusI’m just a few page into Re Jesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch.   In the first chapter a story is related from Charles Sheldon’s classic, In His Steps, concerning a homeless man who sits outside the church listening to people singing as to how they are giving their lives to Jesus, and can’t reconcile this with why they are doing nothing for the poor.

“It seems to me that there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out.”

Hirsch and Frost take this in a different direction; but what struck me was the idea that this guy in Sheldon’s story was listening in on the service and thereby holding the people accountable for what they were singing.

The thought then occurred to me that perhaps we ought to allow more ‘eavesdropping’ to go on by the community at large.   What if we invited a handful of people from the broader culture to sit in on our meetings; not just the marginalized, but also business and civic leaders and working class folk who don’t believe.   We’d tell them that the purpose is not to convert them, but we want them, by their very presence, to hold us accountable.

pulpit03In fact rather than have them sit on the sidelines or sit at the back, why not put them on the platform, facing the congregation, where they would best be able to observe us at worship.

Then the idea struck me, why not get 20 or 30 such people on a weekly basis, and put them in the choir loft. I’m thinking of those  evangelical churches in particular, constructed post WWII up to the turn of the century, where the choir faces directly at the audience, the very place where worship teams have rendered the choir loft redundant.* Your neighbors, co-workers, unchurched relatives, fellow students, etc.   They could just sit there while we sang, prayed and read our Bibles.   It’s Jim and Caspar Go To Church on steriods.

Would that give our worship and witness more authenticity?  How would we worship differently with the world not only looking in, but looking right at us; locking their eyes with our own; inside our too-often members-only club?

Jus’ thinkin’ out loud.


*But I’ll settle for that large collection of chairs in the picture, also common to churches of that era; but rendered equally redundant by the move towards participants sitting with the audience until it’s time for their part. Finding the picture I actually wanted proved difficult, since most churches post pictures of their building exterior, not the inner chambers.

Personal postscript to above:  The church I attended in my teens in Toronto had such a large platform party that one of the pastors would come on to the stage about 15 minutes before the service started and count them, to make sure they had exactly the right number.    We decided his titles should be, “Minister of Chairs.”   But alas, I digress.   This is about accountability.

The book, Re Jesus is published in paperback by Hendrickson.

December 16, 2008

ReJesus – Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch Examine the Connection of Missional Church to Jesus

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:59 pm

rejesusI was first introduced to Michael Frost when a number of Canadian Youth For Christ staff members returned extatic from a National Staff Convention.   I was later loaned a set of audio CDs from that conference which resonated with myself and others.  Finally, someone was articulating what many of us were unable to put into words.   The term, “missional church,” would enter the larger vocabulary later on.

I got to hear Michael in person at an inter-church conference put on in Peterborough, Ontario by a group called Church in the City, which is also an initiative of Youth For Christ.   Finally, the local YFC chapter where I live invited Michael to our town for a three day event.     For a guy from Australia, he sure spends a lot of time in Canada, and he never seems to pick the warm weather months.

Alan Hirsch is less familiar to some of us.   He coauthored with Frost the book, The Shaping of Things to Come which is sort of a Future Shock for Evangelicals and Charismatics.   Their combined effort is rich in philosophy and ideas, and finds its readership among both academics and those who find themselves longing for “something else” when it comes to that which we call church.

So I was surprised yesterday to learn that a new work from both authors is just around the corner.   Blogger Jamie Arpin-Ricci scores an interview with Michael Frost at his blog, A Living Alternative.   Connect here to learn about the new book, ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church, officially publishing in January by Hendrickson.

Publisher Marketing: ReJesus asks the following questions: What ongoing role does Jesus the Messiah play in shaping the ethos and self understanding of the movement that originated in him?  How is the Christian religion informed and shaped by the Jesus that we meet in the Gospels?  How do we assess the continuity required between the life and example of Jesus and the subsequent religion called Christianity? In how many ways do we domesticate the radical Revolutionary in order to sustain our religion and religiosity?  How can a rediscovery of Jesus renew our discipleship, the Christian community, and the ongoing mission of the church?

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