Alan Hirsch responds to Dan Kimball

12 Dec

Here   responding to this

For the Record I think both are right…Because we live in an interesting time. But the Crux of the argument is Missional V. Attractional (but not really because Dan is Missional as well)..anyhoo I just love this quote from Alan:

If we stick with the prevailing measures, we will miss the level of incarnational engagement with quantitative measures alone. How do we measure that? Incarnation takes time and loving presence (witness) among a people. Working with post-Christian folks ain’t easy because we have lost our credibility and have to work darn hard to regain it. I think there is much work to do here.

You have no idea how that resonates with a pastor in an urban area that is post-Christian, and post-American in a lot of senses (i.e. people from Sierra Leonne do not respond to the same things as Middle Class Americans).  It resonates because we are committed to reaching this community no matter how long it takes and whether we are sucessful according to someone else’s abacus or not.

Alan ends by saying:

The only other thing I will say is that we as believers, live by a vision of what can be…we cannot allow ourselves to be constrained by pragmatics alone. Vision precludes that and is driven by holy discontent to see a greater manifestation of the Kingdom.





9 Responses to “Alan Hirsch responds to Dan Kimball”

  1. Charles December 13, 2008 at 4:22 am #

    I agree with a few of Alan’s points:

    “Church growth” is the wrong place to focus. The church should always and only have the goal of pointing to Jesus.

    Attractional models don’t make disciples, they make consumers.

    Numbers alone won’t tell the story.

    But Alan skirted Dan’s point on each of these issues. Dan said specifically that the size wasn’t the issue, but the total lack of fruitfulness over a decade or more. I don’t care how big your church is, if it’s the same size in ten years (and that’s not the result of some combination of deaths, relocation, or multiplication), you have a problem.

    I don’t think Dan was advocating for an attractional model, and I don’t think he was using the “prevailing measures”. He said that while the missional leader said young people wouldn’t be drawn to that type of church, they were, in fact, being drawn there. And he also made a point to say multiple time that disciples were being made. That’s important. In fact, that’s the whole point.

    “I am passionate about Jesus-centered disciples being made. And surprisingly, I find in many large, attractional churches, they are.”

    Anyway, Alan misses on a couple of other points too:

    “Are you suggesting that we simply stay with what we have got?” He seems to be suggesting we should get rid of it, just because it’s old.

    There may have only been 25,000 believers in 100 AD, but how many were killed in the preceding decades? And how many new believers would each of them have accounted for, had they lived?

    Final thought: not all “attractional” style churches are actually focusing on the attraction. Some strive for good preaching and teaching because it honors Jesus and edifies the body. They have good family ministries, food pantries, and outreach programs for the same reason. That’s even the reason they have good music, and after school programs, and basketball leagues. Not all of them, of course, but some.

    Most of the attendees of those congregations are observers, admirers, and consumers, but some become disciples. And if you have a church that sees 1000 new people every year but only makes 100 disciples, is that better or worse than one that sees 3 new people and makes 1 disciple?

    I like missional churches, I go to one right now. But if they aren’t accomplishing the mission, maybe they should reevaluate.

  2. poopemerges December 13, 2008 at 11:53 am #

    I agree with all of that Charles…Like I said I think both are right.

  3. beckystewart December 13, 2008 at 12:05 pm #

    It seems to me that Alan Hirsch is a pretty smart guy (or at least a place to harvest great quotes from).

  4. poopemerges December 13, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    Every conference I go to that he is at I attend all of his sessions….our church structure is based largely on stuff I gleaned from him on missional structure..

  5. Charles December 13, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    D, I know you agree with both, I was just bloviating, I think. I’m a fan of preaching Jesus in whatever way works, as long as you’re preaching the truth. So the whole debate is meaningless to me, except that I see traditional models that are teaching the Gospel effectively and making disciples getting regularly put down by missional churches that aren’t. I wish everyone would focus more on doctrine and teaching than on method.

    Anyway, the church I’ve been going to is community group based, and while the preaching isn’t stellar, the Gospel is spreading, and new community groups and congregations are breaking off at a regular pace, so they’re doing right in my eyes.

  6. poopemerges December 13, 2008 at 8:41 pm #

    “I wish everyone would focus more on doctrine and teaching than on method.”

    Amen to that dude!

  7. a December 14, 2008 at 9:29 am #

    models are always tricky because for one thing, context is everything. I live in the “great Northeast corridor,” and the longer I am here in an urban area, the more I shocked at how the rest of the country operates when I leave it. Even simple things…like the speed of the grocery line.
    That being said, amid all of the methodology discussion place in the church, it seems that we have lost an appreciation and understanding that some contexts take a much, much longer time to reach. You can have the perfect model, perfectly contextualized, and it will still take years, and years, of faithfulness to see tangible fruit. We are all part of God’s redemption process in different communities, but some of us may be playing the beginning, quieter roles.

  8. poopemerges December 15, 2008 at 3:16 am #

    Amy I feel like you have written a beautiful defense of my ministry. Thanks.


  9. beckystewart December 16, 2008 at 11:46 am #

    I love how I was ready to respond to Scot McKnight about how attractional models were less appealing to non-Christians, especially considering the myriad of cultures as a result of immigration, and that the ones flocking to the attractional megachurches were Christians from other churches. And then I read your comments, and realized that mine were unnecessary. I like the way you think.

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