Here is a refreshing look at the implications of post-modernism on the nature and mission of the church. The writers take pains to explain that the Age of Christendom is over with its central influence in the life and history of western culture. And in their view, that’s a very good thing. It means that the church needs to take a new look at itself in the context of post-modern culture and make significant adjustments in thinking and approach to ministry. For too long, in their view, the church has been attractional in it’s approach to mission, dualistic in its theology, and hierarchial in it ecclesiastical structure.
Professing a strong commitment to biblical authority and faith, these writers propose that the church’s ecclesiology be based on a stong missional philosophy which in turn rests on a better understanding of the nature and mission of Jesus Christ. It is in understanding the significance of the incarnational ministry of Christ that the church becomes truly missional ultimately employing an equal and full complement of gifts divided between the apostolic, the prophetic, the evangelistic, the pastoral and teaching roles in the church.
The writers give many examples of churches that are effectively experimenting with this new paradigm of church ministry. Though not censoring large church efforts completely, they believe that the church will only survive and become a force to be reckoned with again if Christians embrace a radical view of mission. Today’s church, they would say, is much too concerned about protecting its own institutional existence. Christ’s mission has gotten lost in its own self-interest.
Though the book is a radical explanation of the nature of church life and ministry and challenges deeply the status quo of how church has been done for years, it acknowledges the delicate structure of this proposal. Because it offers an extreme alternative to the way church is currently happening, it tends to minimize the importance of theological and pastoral pursuits as we’ve known them. The writers represent something of a prophetic role in their attempt to sound an alarm and challenge the church at a most fundamental level.
The book is detailed and technical and requires a good deal of reflection for maximum profit. It is not an easy read. Though it is written in an interesting manner, it is a bit wordy and technical at points. Yet overall, I believe, it offers one of the most convincing explanations of what needs to happen for the church to survive and prevail in post-modern times. I really believe that Frost and Hirsch are on to something very important here to which we would do well to give serious attention.