I have been reading (not yet finished) two books that I thought were worth mentioning:
ReJesus: a Wild Messiah for a Missional Church by Frost & Hirsch
"Following Jesus involves more than simply accepting him as your Savior via some prayer of commitment, no matter how sincere that prayer might be. In order to follow Jesus you must also emulate him, using his life as a pattern for your own. We call this emulation becoming a little Jesus."
Hirsch and Frost challenge their readers to put Jesus and the personal following of this "wild Messiah" back into the center of their life. As Blaise Pascal says, "Jesus is the center of all, the object of all, whoever does not know him, knows nothing aright, either of the world or of himself."
The authors assert that putting Jesus in the center of our life will cause us to wrestle with the nature of a missional God, one who "sends himself to us rather than waiting for us to come to him." This will also stir us to view the church as the "sent people of God. A church is not a building or an organization. It is an organic collection of believers, centered on Jesus and sent out into the world to serve others in his name."
This final quote captures the essence of this book for me: "Therefore we propose that church should be recalibrated around its founder, Jesus. But what would that look like? Jesus didn't found any churches. He unleashed an army of little Jesuses who went forth and founded faith-communities across the known world."
You See Bones, I See an Army by Floyd McClung
"The best way, in fact the only way, to renew the church is for a fresh imagination to be unleashed in the church."
McClung breathes some imagination of his own into the conversation around simple, reproducible church. Former missionary and mega-church pastor, he is now seeking to facilitate church planting movements, primarily in Africa, by training leaders in these principles.
"Interestingly, we have to train people from traditional and institutional church backgrounds out of the old way of doing church, and orient them to the new paradigm of simple church. It is this way of doing church that makes it possible for Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus--and increasingly, postmodern Western youth--to experience church like we read about in the book of Acts."
McClung's writing displays both his love for the church as God's people and his passion for the "3.3 billion people who have never heard the name of Jesus one time." He believes that there must be a fundamental change in the way we think about church and the world, or these people will never know the power of the Gospel.
McClung suggests the following paradigm shifts are essential:
- Holistic versus dualistic spirituality
- Apostolic versus hierarchical leadership
- Incarnational vesus attractional mission
- Simple versus complicated church
- Inclusive versus exclusive membership
Perhaps it is because I spend so much time, myself, working with leaders in Africa that I resonate so much with McClung's writing. I also appreciate the passion that he carries and challenges others to carry for God and for the world: "There is a spiritual battle raging for your passions... The way our culture influences us, you don't even have to choose to be worldly; just go with the flow. Just be a person who merges with the crowd, and before long you will have nothing inside you to motivate you to live passionately for God."