Jul 7, 2009

The Forgotten Ways - A Few Comments

Last year I read The Forgotten Ways (http://www.theforgottenways.org/) [1] written by Alan Hirsch. Hirsch contends that if the church is to experience the explosive growth she experienced in her first few hundred years she must return to her forgotten ways, she must rediscover her Apostolic Genius: six interrelating elements, forming a complex and living structure[2]. I noted particularly the references having bearing on evangelism.

Hirsch in discussing the Misisonal-Incarnational Impulse reminds us that the people of God should be outward looking. Guder refers to the church as a people who embody the message of Christ and live this out in the world. God is a missionary, Jesus was sent and He then sent the church [3] (John 20:21).

Whilst reading the book, I was challenged and encouraged to continue to outwork my personal conviction that evangelism is something believers should do inherently in everyday life; it is the reason for their existence, to be missional. This confidence however is not made clear by my Pentecostal faith tradition as it continues to encourage people to focus on ‘inviting’ unbelievers to special events in church buildings as their primary method of evangelism. Surely, our resource would be better spent on equipping the believers to do the work of evangelism in their world daily. In fact, the Bible gives instruction to do so (Eph. 4:11-13) and so intimates that every believer has a witnessing function to fulfill and should not primarily look to the church (building) to put on evangelistic events per se. My faith tradition believes wholeheartedly in the ministry of evangelism. In my church although we still encourage the congregation to invite people to events, there is a high level of awareness that this model is becoming outdated, it is reaching a small percentage of our community[4] and is somewhat ineffective in reaching the emerging generations. Whilst I believe there is a place for attractional style events, our focus must shift to become more incarnational to reach the emerging generations.

[1] Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways : Reactivating the Missional Church (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos Press, 2006).
[2] Hirsch, 24.

[3] Hirsch, 129.
[4] Hirsch, 34. Alan Hirsch states that only 12% of the Australian population are likely to be positively influenced by the attractional method of evangelism.