How did the number of Christians in the world grow from as few as 25,000 one hundred years after Christ’s death to up to 20 million in AD 310? How did the Chinese underground church grow from two million to over 100 million in 60 years despite considerable opposition? In The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch reveals the paradigmatic insights he discovered as he delved into those questions. He then translates these findings into the context of the contemporary Western church.
Hirsch identifies six latent potencies in God’s people that lie dormant and forgotten until something catalytic prompts the rediscovery of them. These elements are clearly seen in the church during times of phenomenal growth and impact, but he suggests that they are actually always present and can be reactivated to create apostolic movement. He describes them as the centrality and lordship of Jesus, disciple making, the missional-incarnational impulse, organic systems, apostolic environment, and communitas (a type of community formed in situations of significant ordeal and/or mission).
A key missional leader, educator, and strategist, Hirsch draws from his own experiences, as well as the experiences of ministries around the world, to provide examples of growing churches, church planting movements, and other missional projects. He further illustrates his points with charts and diagrams, as well as a glossary of terms and an index.
Church leaders, strategists, seminary professors, and students will benefit from Hirsch’s discoveries and his ability to put those ideas to work in contemporary churches and ministries.
Among the welter of ‘how-to’ books calling the church to this new strategy or that, The Forgotten Ways is a full-blooded and comprehensive call for the complete reorientation of the church around mission. Nothing less than the rediscovery of a revolutionary missional ecclesiology will do for Alan Hirsch. His book makes an irrefutable case for its establishment and offers the exciting, though frightening, DNA necessary for it to flourish. A master work.
—Michael Frost, founding director, Tinsley Institute
This is a provocative and insightful contribution to the discovery of effective missional engagement with post-Christendom Western culture. Grounded in Alan’s own experience as a missionary pastor and illustrated by examples from various places, The Forgotten Ways challenges and equips both inherited and emerging churches to recover the dynamic of a missional movement.
—Stuart Murray Williams, tutor in mission, Bristol Baptist College
It is refreshing to read a book related to the missional church that provides theological depth coupled with creative thinking. Alan Hirsch reestablishes the essential links between Christology, missiology, and ecclesiology. The Forgotten Ways helps to rescue the concept of church from the clutches of Christendom, setting it free to become a dynamic movement in place of a dying institution.
—Eddie Gibbs, professor emeritus of church growth, Fuller Theological Seminary
The Forgotten Ways is worth the price of the book simply for the diagrams in chapter three. I feel the same way about his insights on movements later in the book. And every other chapter has the kind of rich insight and inspiring challenge that we have come to expect from Alan Hirsch.
—Brian McLaren, activist, author, and speaker
Alan has been shattering paradigms and challenging ideas for years. Now, in The Forgotten Ways, Alan describes missional movements and challenges us to reorder the church around its mission, all filtered through his deeply personal experience. You will be provoked, challenged, and motivated to embrace the missional DNA and incarnational impulse of the early church in your own life and ministry.
—Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research
Alan Hirsch is right. Many of the more promising ‘new’ ways of ‘doing church’ today are not really new, but rather a recovery of what our predecessors once knew—insights that once formed and informed significant Christian movements that their successors forgot. Hirsch’s model of the Emerging Missional Church will help many churches to recover from their long night of amnesia.
—George G. Hunter III, distinguished emeritus professor, Asbury Theological Seminary
Alan Hirsch is founding director of Forge Mission Training Network and cofounder of Shapevine.com, an international forum for engaging with world-transforming ideas. Currently he leads an innovative learning program called Future Travelers which helps mega churches become missional movements. He is the coauthor of Untamed and Right Here, Right Now.