I recently began reading a copy of Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson's new book, On The Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church. I have been looking forward to reading the book as I have enjoyed the other books that I have read by Hirsch (especially ReJesus). Over the next few weeks, I will be posting some thoughts from the chapters that I am reading.
Introduction and Chapter 1:
In the introduction, the authors liken the current state of the Church to a "phoenix arising from the dying embers of Christendom" as they view the Church of the future. They believe that the the Christian Church is standing at a pivotal point in history- hence the idea of VERGE...that we (the Church) are on the verge of something new and yet ancient.
What does it mean to be "on the Verge" or a "Verge" Church? Hirsch and Ferguson write that what was once in conflict with one another (incarnational or attractional) are now beginning to interact with one another. This interaction has all sorts of missional implications, according to the authors, including a new paradigm for the Church that "fundamentally altars the nature of the game." The authors believe that the Church can attractional and missional at the same time if the organizational DNA incorporates a both/and approach that is able to contextualize the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Western World.
For most of the first chapter, Hirsch and Ferguson talk about shifts in the Church. On page 32 the authors write:
"Adopting a Verge church paradigm requires learning what it means to become a more fluid, adaptive, reproducible, viral people-movement. In other words, it means taking seriously the idea that the church Jesus built- and therefore what he intended- is meant to be more of a movement than an institution."In short, chapter one is setting up the movement....moving from an institutional church to a movement (or Verge Church). This is a challenging and exciting step for the Church to consider.
I am currently a pastor in The United Methodist Church. What was once a great missionary movement in the 1700-1800's has now become an institution. As I read the opening pages of "On The Verge," my heart rate increased as I considered what the Church could look like if it could once again become a movement rather than an institution.