1519633_10153691833125654_373927204_oLast week the TRAIN residents had the incredible opportunity to spend time with highly sought after author, speaker, and missional strategist Alan Hirsch. He is also the founder of the Verge Network which has a strong focus on planting reproducing missional churches that have a strong foundation in making disciples. The Sentralized Conference we went to in Kansas City back in September is put on every year by the Verge Network and Hirsch is always one of the key speakers. During the time that we spent with him, Hirsch expounded on some of the key concepts that were introduced at the conference along with some other powerful thoughts and questions with major implications for church planting. Much of what he shared is still resonating and marinating in my mind and heart as I’m sure it will for a long time to come and will have a profound impact on the church we are called to plant.
There are dozens of things we learned that I would love to share in depth, I wanted to key in on 3 of the major takeaways I had from our time last week with Alan Hirsch:
1. It is critical to understand the 5-fold ministry functions and how they impact key leadership and roles. The functions outlined by Paul in Ephesians 4 are Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers (abbreviated APEST). Jesus modeled each of these functions (which are fundamentally different than spiritual gifts) and each function is vital for the church to function the way it was intended. Each of us has a primary and secondary APEST function/gift that informs the role we are called to play in church. Over the centuries, the function of Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists have been minimized in favor of Shepherds and Teachers as evidenced in most churches. Find out more about APEST here. We each took an assessment to help determine what our primary and secondary gifts are. It seems that my primary and secondary functions are Apostle and Prophet, respectively. God is showing me that it is especially important to make sure each function is represented on our key leadership team so that we can have the missional impact He desires for us as His church.
2. Christology plus Missiology determines Ecclesiology. Put more simply, what we know and believe about Jesus based on Scripture (Christology) shapes our understanding of our mission to make disciples and how to accomplish it (missiology) which determines what church looks like in a given context (Ecclesiology). Two key questions that Hirsch shared that should have a profound influence on our way of doing church: 1. What is good news to the people in the community we are called to reach? 2. What does an authentic expression of biblical Christianity look like in this community with these people? Unfortunately many churches put Ecclesiology first and refuse to allow Missiology to influence how they do church and Christology is not much more than an afterthought. These are some big philosophical (really theological) issues that have major implications for why, what and how we “do church” in the context God has called us to.
3. Making disciples who make disciples is THE most important task of any church. While that’s not really a new revelation, God reminded me that we can’t really call ourselves a church unless we are actively making disciples that are equipped to make disciples. Multiplication is an essential part of our DNA. In addition to making reproducing disciples, we also must plant reproducing churches with the same mission and DNA. One of the key methods of discipleship at LifeSpring will be our LifeGroups. Based on our conversations, I’m rethinking what those LifeGroups need to look like in order to maximize our effectiveness in reproducing disciple-making disciples.
All that to say that we had a pretty mind-blowing and paradigm-shifting few days with Alan Hirsch! Please keep praying for us that God will continue to shape our hearts, minds, and calling! We can’t wait to get started!

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