Alan Hirsch Wants To Move You

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

I first met the masterful Alan Hirsch at a gathering in November 2010.  He was helping a bunch of us sacramental church leaders process next steps.  I boldly asked him to keynote our first WikiConference, an inaugural gathering of 200 in June of 2011 (that will now be over 800 in September of 2014).  June in Houston.  Those folks were faithful.

At that first Wiki, Alan described himself as a phenomenologist.  I'm tempted to tell you to go look it up, but I'll save you the surfing calluses.  A phenomenologist is someone who studies phenomenons and movements. That wasn't too hard, was it?

Hirsch talked about how the energy in a movement isn’t confined to the central core, but flows freely and readily to the outer limits…the extremes.  Almost all movements start on the edges.

That’s FiveTwo’s history: we started with nine edgy church planters, on the edge of their denomination, deciding to lead change from the fringe.  We like fringe.  Fringe is fun and frilly and typically freaks people out.  I’m good with that.

The year following the first Wiki, I spent time with Mr. Hirsch and his Future Travelers, a great group of large-church pastors who talked and dreamed about what could be if we boldly led our congregations into a new future that reached all of the new people the church currently wasn’t reaching.

During that time with Obi Wan Hirsch, I learned you can’t control a movement but key leaders CAN influence it.  Maybe, if you’re lucky, you can guide a movement, but you’re certainly not leading it.  More like prodding it: by exerting small amounts of energy you can cause slight shifts and slides toward a particular outcome.  Throw a little gas here, a little gas there.  Drop a match and pray the wind doesn't blow it out.

What has excited me the most in the past three years is watching the kind of movement FiveTwo is igniting.  Its one where God’s Spirit has evidently been at work, birthing us just in time and then leading us to other networks and groups who had been praying for such a movement of God’s Spirit.

The truth is, spiritual leaders spend their time and energy discerning where the Spirit is moving, and then making strategic decisions based on that direction. It was Jesus who said, “…the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19, ESV)

This is FiveTwo’s commitment:  moving under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and functioning the way a movement does.

Alan Hirsch built on this insight in his excellent book The Permanent Revolution.  He tells a story of an Australian blogger, Andrew Jones, researching whether the current missional movement fits the characteristics of kingdom movements of the past.  Some of the divine movement characteristics Jones lists are:

  • Beginning on the periphery of the established church.
  • Desiring a more authentic Christian life.
  • Selecting and training leaders by new ways and methods.
  • Leveraging grassroots connections.
  • Shifting the theological focus to the everyday life of every believer, and how they live out the calling they have.
  • Acknowledging that opposition from established church leaders is probable.
  • Maintaining flexibility … especially with the structures on which the church is built.
  • Embracing that movements are messy.

(Hirsch/Catchim, The Permanent Revolution, p. 211)

When you think of FiveTwo, which of the above qualities seem to fit?  Which ones do you resonate with in your own life?  Which ones are a challenge?  We’ll unpack more of the details of this whole movement orientation in the next few blog posts.

Tell me what you think.  I’d love to hear your comments below!

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