Wednesday at Exponential was both affirming and exhausting. I ended up leaving the conference before the final speaker simply because I was on head and heart overload.
The day for me began in the main session with Alan Hirsch. Alan is an author and from Australia. I had the privilege of designing his website, and in many of our emails back and forth, he called me “mate.” I love that. I felt like the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island.
Alan is a profound observer of Christendom and an incredible kingdom contributor. I highly recommend both of his books to you which I’ve reference in another entry.
Alan urged us today to do the following things as we sought to recreate a movement of reproducing churches:
- Recover the centrality of Jesus in the life of the people of God.
It sounds almost like a no brainer, but he explained how easy it is for churches today to replace the simplicity of devotion to Jesus Christ with religion. He said the church is in danger of losing its identity, and its identity can only be found in Jesus. Our Christology should determine our Missiology which will determine our Ecclesiology. (Justin had a good entry on this a while back.)
In other words, our view of Jesus will define our mission as being His mission. Only when we properly understand and submit to Jesus’ mission will we be ready to create structures and churches (ecclesiology) that will be able to minister to our world and bring Christ glory.
Obviously, there are many who cling to their ecclesiology (how church is done) and have not considered for many moons how their Christology should redefine the way they “do church.”
He had an incredibly convicting series of points related to how we have domesticated Jesus, and he showed numerous images – all of them disconcertingly funny – of popular pictures of Jesus with captions that described what he was talking about. These included Buddy Jesus, Spooky Jesus, Bearded Lady Jesus, and others.
He quoted Voltaire, “God made us in His image and we returned the favor.”
Jesus is not up for our recreation! He is LORD. Creator. Sovereign. Head of the Church.
- Recover discipleship as the task of the church.
He said that we have flirted with consumerism for so long in the western church that it is killing us from within. Too many people look at the church and refuse to participate in it unless it “meets their needs” – or those of their children. It’s no longer about the mission of Jesus. It’s about joining a religious club for selfish benefits. Ouch.
Alan followed up on many of these thoughts in his seminar this morning as well. One wonderful concept that he shared was the importance of the Gospel of Jesus as being a “sneezable message.” It should be contagious! If a person has to study for seven years to lead another person to faith in Christ, then we’ve lost the simplicity of the Gospel as communicated by Jesus.
Every believer should be a church planter, Hirsch said. Our love for Christ as our Lord should continually compel every believer to bear fruit and become personally involved in the movement of God in their communities and our world.