The next main session is with Alan Hirsch, an Aussie, who has a leadership network called Shapevine. It’s committed to developing leaders who are centered around Jesus command to make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20).
He opened by pointing out that church leaders are pretty bad about just toeing the line of what we’re told. We simply plant and grow churches they way we’re told to without evaluating why and is that biblical. What is our theology and ecclesiology (study of church)? I’m liking this guy a lot right now.
The answers aren’t found at Exponential conferences or fads, but its found by going down deep into the Bible, theology from the Bible, and church history. I’m really liking him more.
There are at least 4 ways that we need to recover this thinking:
1. Recover the centrality of Jesus Christ. He is starting with Jesus and the gospel! Christology is the heart of church renewal. Not modern church leaders like Stanley or Hybels, not the Reformation with people like Luther and Calvin, but Jesus. Starting churches need to go back to our root: Jesus. If it’s not about Jesus what are we doing? In the words of one of my favorite DTS profs, Jeff Bingham, “It’s something. It’s not Christian, but it’s something.” Jesus is the center of church renewal.
Now this next part is wordy, but hang with him. Our view of Jesus (Christology) determines what we are to be doing as a church (Missiology) and that determines how we do church (Ecclesiology). He is exactly right. So when our church isn’t going well and isn’t effectively reaching the lost, the answer is to return to Jesus not our Ecclesiology. Question time folks: Are we at Crew doing church, no matter how attractive, cool, or fun. Are we clearly showing that Jesus is everything to us?
He points out, with great pics, the type of Jesus many churches wrongly promote:
There’s spooky Jesus (think pic of Jesus glowing and looking all scary). This denies his humanity and incarnation.
There’s buddy Jesus. This is Jesus as begging us to be his friend. No power or deity.
There’s boyfriend Jesus. I’ve talked about this one before. This is seen in all of the romantic worship songs about “touch me God” and “I’m so in love with you”.
There’s sissy Jesus. This is prissy blond headed silky long haired Jesus. This guy won’t call you to do revolutionary things and stand up to wrong because he’s putting product in his hair.
We need to recover Jesus as the holy and powerful and strong, yet gentle and loving God man who demands to be worshipped and followed. This Jesus changes lives as he desires.
This flies in the face of making Christ palatable to our culture.
2. Recover discipleship as the basis of the movement. A disciple is a person who completely follows Christ. The drive of the church MUST be deadly serious about calling people to an intense and complete following of Jesus.
This flies in the face of making all of our ministry about making our worship gatherings sellable to our culture. We are reaching consumers by giving them a product rather than challenging their consumerism. That needs to change.
3. Recover a structure that multiplies. This means that what we do needs to be able to flex and adapt to any culture of any time. Christ is over culture so he can’t be limited to a certain package of delivery to only specific cultures. Every believer is a church starter and every church can multiply churches. Why? Because every believer has Jesus and his gospel. Jesus, one man, multiplied himself into 11 men, who multiplied into others, and on and on until us.
4. Recovering our call to be missionaries. God goes to the culture. Jesus became flesh to redeem us. We must incarnate ourselves into our culture in order to redeem it.
Easily the best thing I’ve heard since being here. Good good word.