(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.)
Let me put this out there from the beginning- I loved this chapter. I’m further along in the book and there is good stuff to come- but as I read The Silver Imagination, it got my juices flowing. I consider myself a big picture/vision oriented kind of leader…and this chapter in On The Verge challenged my imagination and the imagination of my leaders about what God is doing- and can do in and through our churches.
Alan tells the account of Ivan Illich who was asked what he thought was the most radical way to change a society. Rather than answering through a violent revolution or gradual reform, Illich said that if one wanted to change society, one must tell an alternate story (pg. 57). In the church, we have this great story from creation to the final redemption of creation through Jesus Christ- yet we need to find, imagine alternate ways of telling this story as our communities and cultures change. In the States, as we grow increasing pre-Christian, we must tell the story (and live the story) differently than we did 20 or 30 years ago. It’s a paradigm shift.
The key, according to Hirsch, is imagination. Hirsch writes that imagination is not just for child’s play or fantasy, but is a God-given gift of our mind that allows us to live and minister in creative and new ways. Imagination allows us to explore possibilities that we have never before considered. Hirsch writes, “…the fundamental job of apostolic imagination is to produce out of the church we now experience a vision of the church Jesus wants us to experience” (68).
In my previous minister appointment, I was an associate pastor at a church that had been around for over 200 years. It was an institutional church. Ministry at this church was most exciting and life giving when our paradigms began to change and we began to imagine a new way of making disciples of Jesus Christ. I have recently completed my first full year as the solo pastor of a church that is less than ten years old. While we don’t have the institutional baggage of a 200 year old church- we daily wrestle with what it means to be the church because many of our leaders (myself included) operate on an old paradigm of institutional church. I pray for myself and our leaders that we would pray and create space to use our imagination to become the movement type church that turns the world upside down for Jesus. I pray this prayer for all our churches that we would produce the church Jesus wants us to experience!