#VergeChi :: Alan Hirsch – The Past & Future

Alan Hirsch

Alan Hirsch is the founding director of Forge Mission Training Network. Currently he co-leads Future Travelers, an innovative learning program helping megachurches become missional movements. Known for his innovative approach to mission, Alan is considered to be a thought-leader and key mission strategist for churches across the Western world.
Hirsch is the author of The Forgotten Ways and The Forgotten Ways Handbook; co-author of The Shaping of Things to Come, ReJesus and The Faith of Leap. (with Michael Frost); Untamed (with Debra Hirsch); Right Here, Right Now (with Lance Ford): On the Verge (with Dave Ferguson); The Permanent Revolution(with Tim Catchim)
His experience includes leading a local church movement among the marginalized, developing training systems for innovative missional leaders, and heading up the mission and revitalization work of his denomination.

The Past and the Future

  • Decisions made now, matter hugely in terms of how the future pans out.
  • Decisions now have a global effect.
  • When everything is interconnected small decisions can have huge ramifications.
  • The future of Chicago, and the church in America, and the church in the western world is decided in places like this today.
  • In every organization people are attached to things that are obsolete. We do this all the time in the church.
  • What we need to do in order to recalibrate the church is a huge task, but it is exciting.
  • I read a book 2 years ago called The Age of The Unthinkable. Simply taking ideas that were formulated in a different time and different place and applying them to another time and place, then it can create more problems than solutions.
  • When it comes to the church this is a great metaphor. Simply assuming that past ideas is going to work in the 21st century is naive and dangerous.
  • It’s time to recalibrate almost every aspect of the church.
  • If you’re doing cross-cultural missions there are alot of things that can make it very complicated.
  • What happened in Europe the church was taken from the margins and put in the center for the first 300 years. That fundamentally changed the way we thought about ourselves.
  • Where you stand determines what you see.
  • 80 years ago, to be an American was to be a christian. Much of our thinking has come from this privileged status.
  • The Church has now been de-centered and pushed back to the margins of society.
  • The problem with post-christendom is that we’ve been inoculated.
  • In the privileged setting of the church, it’s easy to do evangelism, because you don’t have to cross any cultural barriers.
  • All mission in western settings now has to be cross-cultural. You can’t assume anything.
  • It’s not a question about the church gathering together. The Bible says we should gather.
  • Someone comes to the Lord, then they come into the church, and socialize into the church. The problem though is that this person is now cutoff from his past relationships.
  • The gospel always spreads along relational lines.
  • 3-5 years of a person becoming a believer, they no longer have any meaningful relationship with someone outside of the church.
  • There’s no such thing as an unsent Christian. You have already been sent. We are all cross-cultural missionaries.
  • God, Jesus, Spirituality, Church
  • Most Americans believe in god/higher power.
  • Ask someone who was the greatest person who ever lived? Jesus will most likely be in the top 3 most of the time.
  • When you ask most non-christian Americans about the church, they normally don’t have a good perception of it.
  • As the Church we have an amazing product, but if we don’t change our delivery system we’re gonna be in trouble.
  • There’s no Plan B for the Church in the west. We have to re-learn how to do things.
  • 18% of Americans every Sunday are in church. This is any type of church.
  • If the only answer you have to the missionary challenge is one form of church, then you are in trouble.
  • Most churches are not going to become a mega-church. I don’t think you have to become a mega-church.
  • 1,200 churches in America are larger than 2,000 people.
  • There are 400,000 churches in America. The average size is 80 people.
  • 40% of Americans will find the contemporary mega-church model attractive.
  • So what happens to the other 60%?
  • Missionaries start with culture and move to the gospel.
  • If the only tool that you have is a hammer, then everything you look at begins to look like a nail.
  • Many times we begin to look like the people who have to make other people feel bad about what they’re doing in order to feel good about themselves.
  • When you play the Holy Spirit you suck at it.
  • Idols will tell you what people think is important.
  • Idolatry is always the temptation of the human heart.
  • Idolatry is your greatest gift to interpret the city. Because at least people are worshiping something. It’s false worship, but you can know what they’re worshiping.
  • All of your vices are virtue gone wrong.
  • The Church reforming are always to be reforming to the Word of God.
  • If you persist in just holding on to the codes and inherited ideas which were formulated in a different time and are now obsolete, things won’t go well.
  • Let’s dream about what it means to be a missionary again.
  • Don’t rely simply on one model. Have a both-and mindset.
  • The problems of the world cannot be resolved by the same type of thinking that caused those problems in the first place.
  • Where the population centers are, that’s where the future of America is.

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