I’ve read a lot of books this year. Most were good. A few were remarkable. This one tops them all so far. The Forgotten Ways is an absolute MUST read for anyone who cares about the fate of the church in the Western world, and for anyone who cares about living the Jesus life.
Hirsch’s writing style can be a bit technical (I personally enjoyed it a lot), but the stuff is amazing. The book is about what he has termed the Apostolic Genius. It’s what made the New Testament church such an explosive movement. It’s what made every Jesus movement so explosive (including the underground Chinese church). He explores each aspect of the Apostolic Genius–the Lordship of Jesus, disciple making, missional-incarnational impulse, apostolic environment, organic systems, and communitas (not community)–and shows what it can and should look like. When these things are present, the church (in whatever form or “model”) thrives and spreads like a virus.
Hirsch also, unapologetically, writes about the demise of the Western church due to consumerism, which has shaped a massive majority of churches into nothing more than providers of spiritual goods and services. He does (and rightly so) hold out great hope for the church in the West. It will take much work, prayer, sweat, and risk, but there is hope for revival.
While every aspect of the book captivated me and spurred me to much thought, the chapter on communitas really got me thinking. It seems as if the early church (and other great Jesus movements) was always in a state of what Hirsch calls liminality–a situation of marginalization and danger. This lead the early believers to really live what they believed and get on mission–communitas: I for the community, and the community for the world. It’s really got me thinking about how our church can become more on target with God’s mission.
A great book, a must read (even if it angers you… which it just might if you’ve been a Christian for a long time… and it definitely will if you’re a consumer Christian who cares about your wants and needs over those of everyone else).