Tuesday, 12 May 2020
One of the books our shaliach, Dan Juster, often recommends is The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch. Hirsch is one of the prominent missiologists of our age and this book was originally published in 2006; it went into a second "full revised" second edition in 2016 and is definitely well worth reading. If nothing else, it speaks into the post-CoronaVirus plans that I assume most congregations are busy making. He is firmly of the opinion that many of our current models for how we do 'church' are irredeemably broken, but here is a short quote that particular caught my eye when I read it the other day:
I think it fair to say that in the Western church, we have by and large lost the art of disciple making. We have done so partly because we have no clear definition and processes; partly because we have reduced discipleship to the intellectual assimilation of ideas; and partly because systemic consumerism in our own day works directly against a true following of Jesus. page 112
Do you feel affronted by that assertion, or would you have to admit that it is close to the truth? How would you rate the three reasons he gives for this decline - are they all true or only some? How would you rank them in your own church/congregation context - which do you suffer from?
My own experience is that some good folk have attempted to draw up definitions and processes - I remember trying to persuade our congregation to engage with Dallas Willard's excellent book, The Divine Conspiracy - only to be met with significant opposition and displeaure. People don't like being told that they aren't very good disciples (or, perhaps, even disciples at all) and are deeply reisistant to changing their lifestyles, adopting any measure of discipline or restriction or even moderation, anything that crosses their strong sense of autonomy. To suggest that our choices should be limited to God's choices for us is to suggest that people can't have what they want when they want it; it is submission of self to a third-party who, moreover, has a bad reputation as a party-pooper!
What do you think? Where do you stand? Let's talk ...