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The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church
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The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  915 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Alan Hirsch is convinced that the inherited formulas for growing the Body of Christ do not work anymore. And rather than relying on slightly revised solutions from the past, he sees a vision of the future growth of the church coming about by harnessing the power of the early church, which grew from as few as 25,000 adherents in AD 100 to up to 20 million in AD 310. Such in ...more
Paperback, 295 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Brazos Press (first published January 1st 2007)
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Patrick Oden
Aug 09, 2007 Patrick Oden rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those ready to press onwards with the church
Shelves: theology
This is a book of hope for the church. It has moved past the season in which books on ministry and approach emphasize what has been done wrong and finally gets around to showing new patterns. Though, these new patterns really reflect old and present patterns. Looking at the early church and the church in China Hirsch examines what he calls the Apostolic Genius, finding the traits and emphases that seem to be at the root of explosive missional movements.
This is a really good book to read if you are a part of any sort of church leadership and want to continue to lead the church through the mid-century. It reads like a dense college textbook, but that's a good thing. Many times I felt like he was applying principles from the Perspectives course to our own native cultures.
It's difficult to think of a more influential voice in the missional church movement at this than Alan Hirsch. Maybe his writing partner Mike Frost?

Their books have not only defined the questions we need to be asking about church in our time and context but gone a long way towards providing the answers.

The Forgotten Ways Handbook is a crucial piece of that. The original volume, The Forgotten Ways was an erudite discussion of the shape, structure and direction of missional church. The Handbook is
This is a tremendous book for many reasons. It is packed with insightful teaching and comment about how mission is meant to be. There are many observations on the ‘church’ (particularly in the West) and examples that show how far it has departed from its origins. Many of these observations ring true and will resonate with readers on the fringes of traditional forms of church. ‘Jesus is Lord’ is the central element of inspired movements and the author calls for the removal of unnecessary traditio ...more
David Gregg
It's an intellectual's book, but not in a dry kind of way. Alan isn't afraid either of coining new terminology or of importing terminology from other areas and accomodating it for use with missiology and ecclesiology. He is an expert in living systems theory and makes handy use of this field in his analysis and suggestions for the church. It is definitely not like the books you are used to reading on missiology and ecclesiology, and for that Hirsch deserves accolades. Our Aussie friend Alan Hirs ...more
Kevin Beasley
Alan Hirsch takes a stab at laying out a model of missional life together in Christian community. Although Hirsch's work has primarily been in organic church models, his goal is to see this model implemented in all churches from the institutional mega church all the way to simple churches. If the reader is looking for practical application or church models, this book may be a disappointment. Hirsch's goal is to change the readers paradigm of ecclesiology. He views this as the starting point for ...more
Craig Mathison
Hirsch is one of the true "missional thinkers" as opposed to others who simply report on the missional scene. This is his (to date) "opus magnus" on the deconstruction of missional DNA (he terms it mDNA). If you have read much of Hirsch, there are recurrent themes of a strong biblical view and a deep interest in theology tempered by a passion for missional outcomes over traditionalism and/or "group think" notions of correctness.

The great quest and question of Forgotten Ways is, "How do you make
Great 101 book for Christian believers who are outreach-oriented yet have become dissatisfied with the stubbornly insular nature of church. Hirsch quite scathingly critiques mainstream Western Christendom and proposes an alternative to the monolithic religious institutions of our day. According to Hirsch, we have lost our way but can recover it--Jesus came 'to seek and save the lost,' and Hirsch urges that we get back to this ASAP.

"To reach beyond significant cultural barriers we are going to ha
Re-reading for the Reboot challenge.
Charlie Brill
There's so much to say about this book. It's hard to figure out where to start. I would say first that this is a very controversial book to read. You either love what he says or you hate what he has to say. I would say for those who don't follow within Hirsch's frame of thinking, you won't make it very far through the book before putting it aside. Personally, I agree with most every point that he made. It's something that needs to be heard, it's something that needs to be thought threw thorough ...more
Frank Peters
How is one supposed to review a book that is both horrible and beautiful at the same time? The topic, purpose and essence of the book is beautiful, as Hirsch seeks to point a way forward for Christians like me who feel that most current forms of “church” are dying. Hirsch comments on all of the practical and intellectual struggles that I have been dealing with for the last 20 years, and his analysis is both profound and brilliant. He carefully presents a new (but actually old) idea of what the r ...more
How many Christians were there in the year AD100? Best guess 25,000.Two hundred years later how many Christians were there?
Up to 20,000,000. The same type of growth applies to China before the Cultural Revolution and after from 2 million to 60 million. The question for Alan Hirsch is how and why?

Hirsch's whole comprehensive thesis is the presence of a missional DNA which is the answer and reason. This is the lost forgotten way. I am aware of something I read in another book quoting Einstein that
“We, the people of God, are carried forward by a vision of the future that constitutes our mission. When we are caught up into it, and pursue it, we are changed, and go on to enact history.” Alan Hirsch in “The Forgotten Ways”

This book has been a brilliant and profound read and has served to reshape individual and larger fellowship paradigms for both me and the community of believers with whom I fellowship. The Holy Spirit has used the idea, recognition and execution of Apostolic Genius to begin
Joel Daniel Harris
Having read Shaping of Things to Come and Forgotten Ways back to back and then sitting through a several day lecture with Alan Hirsch reflecting on these topics, I have a few reflections...

First, I personally enjoyed Shaping of Things to Come more. I repeatedly found myself thinking that it was putting words to things that I've often thought. However, I also thought that it was at times overstated. Hirsch explained this during his lectures that he has shifted some in his thinking but also that S
I did a quick read of a loaned copy upon recommendation by a friend; I probably won't buy a copy.

From the "forgotten ways" in title, it should be no surprise that the book recommends we look back, "ad fontes." The author also recommends we look at the Chinese house churches.

As I read it, the book describes the early church as a web organization of smaller, informally connected groups, united by a strong sense of shared mission and communitas, and having leadership based on local and peer recogn
Jay Winters
Normally I write a separate opening and closing to a book, but I was able to pound this one down between 1.5 flights between Tallahassee and St. Louis.

I had skimmed "The Forgotten Ways" by Hirsch a while back, but never invested the time to really read it all the way through. What I found on this read through were some interesting ideas and some dejavu from when I was reading a bunch of "emerging church" stuff back in the early 2000's.

Unlike a lot of the emerging church stuff, Hirsch's ideas ar
Jul 03, 2008 Shannon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: church leaders
Recommended to Shannon by: professor
If you want to read a book that lays out every thought I have towards church planting, low ecclesiology and high christology--this is it. Alan Hirsch is a great thinker and communicator for missional churches. Start with Part Two if you want to get to the heart of his explanation of missional DNA: disciple making, communitas, organic systems, apostolic environment, missiona-incarnational impulse (all centered and revloving around "Jesus is Lord". Don't be freaked out by his use of the word apos ...more
Don Gale
Overall an interesting, thought-provoking book. I was pretty skeptical going in given the subtitle "reactivating the missional church". But, overall I was helped, challenged, and encouraged. I was glad to see Hirsch emphasize the importance of doctrine and the gospel in Ch 3, although I'm still not sure what he believes about the gospel and man. That might be unfair, as that was not really his purpose in writing.
What was his purpose was to open our eyes to the deficiencies of our current instit
Richard Nguyen
brilliant book with a timely prophetic voice for the church. the prophetic voice of calling the people of God back to faithfulness in discipleship written from experience, academia and an obvious apostolic calling in leading the way.
David Mullen
Jan 13, 2011 David Mullen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nyone who is seeking to change the way church is done, without doing away with the Church
What is church. How do we define what is, and what is not, a viable Jesus people gathering. What caused the Church to grow from a few thousand, to millions in less than a century? Why is the Church in China growing so rapidly? What energized the movements in the Church in the 18th and 19th centuries, and caused revivals to come forth and numbers to skyrocket? Can it be repeated? Should it be? These are the answers and questions considered by church-planter and disciple-maker Alan Hirsch in his s ...more
The best part about this book is the idea that we, the church, have largely functioned primarily with only 2 of the five gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11. We need more apostles, prophets and evangelists.
He had some good things to say, but it got super dense. Only made it a third of the way into the book before stopping
Brian Steele
Fantastic. Just fantastic. For any Christian or for any person wondering what Christianity should look like.
Aaron Thomas
The days of the 3 point sermon and the sermons where the points all start with the same letter are coming to an end. Hirsch makes an incredible point about how Christ taught, " Jesus spoke in confusing riddles (parables) that evoked a spiritual search in the hearers. No where does he give devotional 3 point sermons that cover all the bases. His audience had to do the hard work of filling in the blanks. In other words, they were not left passive, but activated in their spirits." In the words of W ...more
Joseph Ebuen
Great book... I"m going to have to come back to this one every so often just to help me remember the lessons learned from this one. Are we really reaching the lost- or are we simply competing for the 10-15% that go to church? Are the traditional ways of following Christ as we know it truly know it actually 'working' or are we too afraid to ask the tough questions? I hope that we will continue to ask them and pursue a more accurate picture and more precise picture of what God was truly after...
A thoughtful and challenging book that examines how the church started as a missional movement, how its institutionalization has squashed that impulse, and how to regain it. Unlike some authors on the subject, this one speaks from experience and does not propose anything that he hasn't seen work in reality. He offers very true and hard-hitting insights. Even so, the book is overly complicated and too technical. The author's many charts and visualizations are ultimately unhelpful and too abstract ...more
A bit academic - though I admire anyone willing to name the flaws with Alpha! I am dismayed and scared by the legions who are latching on to his Apostolic Genius, too ready to claim the title of 'apostle' for themselves, too eager to label their ministries as a 'movement,' and yet unwilling to heed to voice of the prophets and pastors who bring corrective balance to the Church and are integral to the holistic expression of all God's gifts through all God's people.
Aug 13, 2008 Jacob rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Pastors/ Church Planters
This book is heavier than you might think! If you are a church planter or a leader in a church, I would recommend this book for sure. It is a nice blend of Academia and application, but at times I was put off by the "formula" of what Hirsch calls Apostolic Genius. I am not sure there is such a prescribed set of components in the church of Jesus Christ. Sometimes it just happens, as lead by the Holy Spirit, and it may never be replicated again.
Finally I have found a book that deals with the essense of the dying western church. For years I have said that there has to be a different way because the majority of the churches I've seen are ineffective and dysfunctional. Hirsch brings up some very thought-provoking elements of the mission of the church. I have ordered the handbook and hope to use it as a tool to evaluate the church and how we need to apply these models to fit where we are.
Brilliant and prophetic. Simple concepts fleshed out with practical application. The diagrams in the Spanish version of the book are a bit fuzzy (printing,) but the message remains clear. You can theorize all day long on how to make disciples or be a servant-leader, but Alan Hirsch lays it out in such a way as to demonstrate that he has more than his finger on the ecclesiastical pulse, he has created a spiritual pacemaker with this book.
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I hear its a great book 2 14 Apr 26, 2010 09:25AM  
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  • The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations
  • Building a Discipling Culture
  • The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church
  • Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (The Church and Postmodern Culture)
  • A Community Called Atonement
  • Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission
  • Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire
  • Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults
  • Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement
Alan Hirsch is the founding director of Forge Mission Training Network. Currently he co-leads Future Travelers, an innovative learning program helping megachurches become missional movements. Known for his innovative approach to mission, Alan is considered to be a thought-leader and key mission strategist for churches across the Western world. Hirsch is the author of The Forgotten Ways; co-author ...more
More about Alan Hirsch...
Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church The Forgotten Ways Handbook: A Practical Guide for Developing Missional Churches On the Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church

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“If we're going to impact our world in the name of Jesus, it will be because people like you and me took action in the power of the Spirit. Ever since the mission and ministry of Jesus, God has never stopped calling for a movement of "Little Jesuses" to follow him into the world and unleash the remarkable redemptive genius that lies in the very message we carry. Given the situation of the Church in the West, much will now depend on whether we are willing to break out of a stifling herd instinct and find God again in the context of the advancing kingdom of God.” 14 likes
“It is one thing to create a countercultural community or a Christian subculture, but it is a much more difficult thing to live as an "incarnational-missional communitas" in the midst of a culture and not be bound by its dictates and decrees: to be "in" it, not "of" it, but not "out of it" either. When” 2 likes
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