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    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    On the Verge- A Book Review

     I recently found out about the opportunity to blog on this book and I took it.  The funny thing is, I already bought the book on NOOK and had read it because the title intrigued me as well as the fact that I enjoy and respect the authors very much.

      If I am honest, one simple review of this book will not be enough.  There is so much meat in this book that there isn't enough time and space to discuss the implications of it all here in this blog.  Yet, I will do my best to do so.

      The authors: Hirsch and Ferguson are men that not only teach what the next wave of church ministry should look like, they are actually out there creating it and doing it.  This book is a compilation of what these men have seen now and are seeing into the future as it pertains to the church, her future and the shifting that needs to take place within her paradigm.

      The reality these men quickly come to is that the current strong wave of "church" isn't working and something has got to change.  In fact everything must change and go back all the way to the Apostles.

    In the introduction they say: "So we have a vexing situation where probably 90% or more of evangelical churches in America (and other Western contexts) are aiming at becoming a model that not only is improbable for the vast majority but also (even if they could crack the codes) effectively would still just be competing with other churches for the same 40%" (On the Verge, p. 28).

      Things are broken, where churches are fighting for the same people, not reaching out to new, non-Christians, but are simply content with old Christians seeking a church "for them".  Hirsch and Ferguson are burdened for the lost, so they propose a new shift: an Apostolic shift.

    They break this shift up into 4 categories: Imagine, Shift, Innovate and Move.

    Imagine- Here the reader is challenged to imagine new ways of doing church, that are outside of the current paradigm.  Move beyond what is known in your mind and imagine something new.  "If You Can't Imagine It, You Can't Do It" (p. 39 in NOOK). We need to begin new movements of church that are new while still holding to the truth of the Gospel, otherwise the church is in serious trouble.

    Shift- Here we see the need to make the shift in our thinking from just imagining it to making it start to form.  My favorite part of this section was there mDNA which is the DNA that needs to be attached to all the new shifts of paradigms.  It includes six things:  Jesus is Lord, Disciple-making, Missional-incarnational impulse, Apostolic environment, Organic Systems, and Communitas.  Again, I don't have time to get into what all this means (so you'll have to read it) but it is incredible the way these men flesh out this new reality.

    Innovate- In order for these new things to happen, we have to innovate ways of implementing them. Designing the new church will need to be innovative and will take a ton of innovation.  Ferguson says int the book: "Innovate or Die".  We need to find out how to make this new imagined church come to life, or we will die.  Here, the spark of creativity is fanned into flames and you will find your heart dreaming and making new innovations as you read because these men just simply draw out the desire and the ideas with which I feel they honor God with.  A great equation that sums up this section is: Imagination x Implementation = Innovation.

    Move- Now that we have the vision, the focus, the ways to get it done, we have to move.  We actually need to put up or shut up.  This chapter encourages the movementum of the church to take over and move into the future these new ideas of church.

      Again, as I said before, there is so much meat here that I am not even scratching the surface with what I brought here.  This is a quick, brief summary which doesn't do this book justice but I hope it inspired you to read this book because I think this book needs to be read and implemented.  This book encourages the freedom we need to rethink church and ministry, the modes and the methods, but certainly NOT the message. 

    My imagination was sparked.  My heart burned to create, and so will yours.