Alan Hirsch, Gibbs & Bolger, & Emerging Church ~ BitterSweetLife

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Alan Hirsch, Gibbs & Bolger, & Emerging Church

I just finished Emerging Churches by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger (review on the way) and opened The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch. Reading these two books consecutively is going to provide an interesting point-counterpoint effect, since Emerging Churches is largely descriptive ("here's what's going on--you should join us") and Forgotten Ways is more prescriptive ("here are the ways church should be done biblically, with some substantiating examples").

Gibbs & Bolger poured five years of research into their book, an attempt to fairly represent the current practices of "emerging churches"--and they do several back flips en route to explaining how churches officially get the emerging tattoo. Interesting, but since the book is intended as a sympathetic survey of what's out there, its value for practice is inevitably limited: The brute fact that people are doing these things does not necessarily mean that I should run outside and start doing them myself. Or maybe that's my nonconformist streak speaking out. Don't mind me.

Alan Hirsch's book is a different animal. I've only just read the introduction, and he's already promised to make the world my oyster. (Don't question my metaphoric connections just now.) He point back to the New Testament spiritedly, and paints church and theology with a vivid imagination that's instills hope and a sense of adventure:

The book in your hands now is one that could be labeled under the somewhat technical, and seemingly boring, category of missional ecclesiology, because it explores the nature of the Christian movements, and therefore the church as it is shaped by Jesus and his mission. But don't be fooled by the drab terminology--missional ecclesiology is dynamite. Mainly because the church (the ecclesia), when true to its real calling, when it is on about what God is on about, is by far and away the most potent force for transformational change the world has ever seen.

Maybe I'm just on the rebound from Gibbs & Bolger, but I think I'm really going to like this guy.

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Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife