Item description for The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church by Michael Frost...
Overview In The Shaping of Things to Come the Australians Frost and Hirsch present an innovative vision of how the church can be more relevant and responsive to the spiritual hunger seen in the Western world.
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Michael Frost is vice principal of Morling College; founding director of the Tinsley Institute at Morling college in Sydney, Australia; and a Baptist minister. He is the author of Jesus the Fool, Seeing God in the Ordinary, and Exiles, and the coauthor of The Shaping of Things to Come. He lives in Australia. Alan Hirsch is founding director of Forge Mission Training Network and cofounder of Shapevine.com, an international forum for engaging with world-transforming ideas. Currently he leads an innovative learning program called Future Travelers which helps megachurches become missional movements. He is the author of numerous books, including The Forgotten Ways, and coauthor of Untamed and Right Here, Right Now. Hirsch lives in the Los Angeles area.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21 Century Church?
The Shaping of Things to Come Nov 29, 2008
This is my first book by Frost and Hirsch and it is one that I had read when it first came out. Though this is not new information necessarily, it is well written and puts together a powerful case for the need to reexamine the state of the Western Church. They do a great job of building the case for looking at the Church now as a missional movement rather than an attractional one. Attractional has been historic Christendom's posture in the culture. It has worked better at times than others, but now, with a postmodern reality that is flavored by postchristian attitudes the church can no longer simply try and "do it better". How to move into the culture as a missional force is what this book speaks to. I highly recommend it to any reader who is serious enough to consider putting faith on the line in our new world.
General Thoughts on the subject Nov 11, 2008
I favored this book in that it is seeking to provide a fresh perspective on the ongoing dialogue concerning the effectiveness of the local church in today's culture. The authors are coming at this from a missiologist's point of view, and that, in this case, is an important element. The wider dialogue needs to have the input of a great many minds that represent the spectrum of evangelical interests and Frost and Hirsch give good insight and provide wonderful examples of how the evangelical church is currently at work in ways that are unrestrained by conventional wisdom. I can appreciate the authors' argument in the attempt to widen the reader's understanding of what the current church leadership structure ought to look like, however, I found myself disagreeing with the basis on which they were forming their argument. I felt that they misrepresented the Biblical passage on which they were attempting to make their case. It was a poor marriage of a sound argument and equally sound Biblical passage; however, they had nothing to do with each other. I am a student of this intersection of faith and culture. I am mystified and saddened by the apperent ineffectiveness of the evangelical church in our culture; but I continue to push forward and study what is being written and talked about in hope that I might be able to contribute to this large and real problem. I recommend this book to the individual who is looking for a fresh perspective and who wants to be challenged in their thinking about what a possible direction the future of the evangelical church might look like.
Think while you read, don't accept out of hand Mar 19, 2008
I have a friend that asked me to read this. Yes, I am a Pastor, yes, I'm 55 years old. BUT, I do have a young mindset. I have been a youth pastor forever.
Let me preface my following remarks before you all discount me as "one of those" Pastors who doesn't get it. I lived "Incarnational" ministry for 27 years in the inner city of Los Angeles. I moved in to a culture of gangs, drugs, prostituion, homeless, etc. It was not my culture. I'm WASP, my community was African American and Hispanic. I understand taking the "Church" to the people instead of being attractional. BUT, we found also that just being in the community was attractional. People sought us out because they heard about our "church" and came to see it, touch it, be in it and learn from it. With that said, following are my thoughts.
I'm concerned that the writers make across the board statements that are not true of all churches. I'm concerned that the authors take so many shots at the church the way "the West" views it. Are they just disgruntled with the church? Have they ever worked for a solid, conservative, Bible Based Church?
Our church fits their model of being American, The West, etc. We are mainline deomination. BUT, we encourage our people to live out their faith in the marketplace. We preached a series on "Christ in the Marketplace". We teach Brother Lawrence's view of "Practicing the Presence of God" where you are planted.
I'm offended that they would just lump me and my fellow Pastor's into a kettle that they call black when they don't know us.
Yes we do need critical thinking. Yes we do need to have many churches in "The West" review the way they do ministry. Yes we need to be sure and tell the Architect, Accountant, Housewife, School Teacher, etc. that they are able to live out their faith in their workplace.
So, because I see what they are trying to address I do give them two stars. But I am highly concerned that young people searching for "Experiential" life in Christ may accept their out of hand condemnation of "The Church" and harbor a resentment to the church that has done so much good for them.
Please be careful in the future of the way you address us. Please look for more positive things to say about churches that are "doing it right" who aren't necessarily part of your movement.
new ideas for what "church" might look like Dec 7, 2007
I recommend this book to everyone who is tired of the institutional church. Even if someone doesn't want to start a house church, or be quite different, this book helps to challenge the need to always do things the same way. Do we really need a building? Paid staff? How can the church adapt to a post-Christian world? The Church is now in the midst of buildng a new style of church, a new re-formation, and this book offers lots of possibilities as we think and pray this through.
Childish, immature, and self-centered Nov 13, 2007
This is easily the worst book I have read in quite some time. I asked some friends for any books they knew of that were uncompromisingly truthful. One of my Emergent friends recommended The Shaping of Things to Come, and I am forced to report that I will probably never take another recommendation from this person again.
There are three things that make this work quite bad, even foolish.
First, the authors continually make sweeping generalities. According to them, the church in the twenty-first century is dying. It doesn't meet young people's needs. It doesn't enter into their stories. It doesn't create new stories. It doesn't make artistic people feel accepted. It isn't doing anything new. It's going to die.
These generalities are completely over the top, and quite disrespectful of the many healthy, godly, growing ministries led by faithful men and women of God across the world. Of course there are some churches like that, but it is just dumb to suggest that all churches are that way.
Over and over, the authors find "communities" of people who aren't Christian, and then falsely caricature how the "attractional church" would evangelize to this group. They go out of their way to describe this method (which is really just a caricature they made up) using words that are heavy, stupid, and uncomplimentary.
They then describe how a church SHOULD evangelize, using all sorts of cute metaphors and complimentary adjectives to describe why their approach is better.
To give an example, if you and the authors were arguing whether the army or navy is better, the authors would say, "If England were to attack America, the Navy would quickly, effectively, and professionally carry out its mission. The Army would just get drunk and start shooting rockets everywhere and blow up half of the civilian population. Therefore, the navy is best."
It's a childish form of argumentation (commonly known as a straw man argument), but they clearly have no embarrasment about using it throughout the entire book.
Second, the authors have poor analytical skills. For instance, they go out of their way to criticise a large church with a pastor who preaches from the front. This, they say, shows that he doesn't really involve the people of his church in ministry. However, a few pages later, they are very affirming of a ministry where people have moved to a specific town so they could spend lots of time in a local pub... despite the fact that as of yet, they haven't seen anyone come to faith in Christ!
It becomes clear very quickly that they do not truly care to help the church grow and mature into God's truth, honoring His name in all their actions. Instead, they merely want to support the swanky, socially acceptable, metrosexual, non-traditional churches and browbeat the normal churches. Again, it is a childish and unprofessional perspective.
Third, the authors have almost no grasp of Scripture. They are in love with the term Incarnational, but clearly do not understand the true purpose and meaning of the Incarnation. They quote morals that they supposedly picked up from Scriptural stories, but the exegesis is horrible (for instance, they say that Jesus not starting his ministry until he was 30 shows the priority He supposedly places on living with people before you preach to them!). They also approvingly quote secular or non-inerrantist sources like Einstein and Moltmann more often than any solid, Biblically faithful authors. They even cite the movie Chocolat as evidence that their idea of church is healthier than the normal idea of church!
Through all this, though, they do no solid exegesis of Scripture. They don't bother to explain why thousands of godly men and women have concluded from Scripture that they have certain duties as the church. They don't interact with any of the apostles' instructions regarding community life. They even explain why in some contexts, it's much better to sit in the park and talk to people than go to church. At all.
The book is bad. It is the childlike argumentation of two very self-centered postmoderns who want Christian liberal utopia more than they want to honor God by faithfulness to his commands. They clearly place more faith in acting like a metrosexual from Seattle than they do in the power of God to call people to his church through the power of His Word.
My suggestion to you is this. Ignore this book. Get Dever's, "9 Marks of a Healthy Church," or Josh Harris', "Stop Dating the Church," if you want to know how a Christian should think about the church. Or spend time with Piper's "The Pleasures of God" or Tozer's "The Pursuit of God" if you are looking for spirituality. Just don't read this immature mess.