I finished reading Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch’s The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church. Frost and Hirsch are missiologists from Australia who have been studying the western church and have written a book to help the western church become "missional." Now missional is the new buzz word in many church circles, but what does it mean? I have heard it interpreted in many way, but think that Frost and Hirsch have here boiled it down in several ways.
The simplest way to put it is to think of missional as being incarnational. Jesus came to earth as the incarnation of God. Incarnation means, "the word made flesh." So if the church is to be missional is has to become the flesh in the world. We do this by taking our flesh into the world, thereby interacting and interfacing with the world that they may find the word which lives within us. The church must not rely solely on trying to draw people inside, but must go into the world. For Jesus going to the world was a three year process and not simply a one time event He used to get people to come to a building after that.
The Shaping of Things to Come connected with me with its urge to rethink the way that we do church. Are we organized around our mission or around our building? How does your building dictate what you can or can not do. What does it mean to "get out" of the church in more than an event mode? For some churches it has meant starting coffee shops, opening concert venues, partnering with non-church organizations to accomplish a community project, opening art spaces, etc.
This book has been added as one of the most important reads of my life second only to McManus’ An Unstoppable Force. Every church leader and anyone interested in reaching more people with the message of Christ needs to read this book to understand the way forward.