Hirsch #1

If you are not familiar with Alan Hirsch you can read more about him at The Forgotten Ways Blog. Also, you can check out his books here: The Forgotten Ways and The Shaping of Things to Come.

This past weekend I traveled to New Orleans to attend a small conference with Hirsch, the staff of Journey Christian Church of NOLA, and my KS friends George and Brad. It was a tremendous opportunity to pick the brain of a brilliant thinker who has thought both broadly and thoroughly about the concept of Christians living as missionaries in their own cultures.

You may have thought, as I have, that the word missional is easily misunderstood. While the word has not been in use long, it’s been used long enough in a variety of contexts that its meaning has become unclear for many. We have used the word a lot in our community in the aspiration that we would continually become more missional.

Hirsch made one very important suggestion to this point. Rather than abandon the word missional and create another term (One which will communicate the ideas of living as God’s missionary people in today’s culture.) Hirsch adds one word to it, one that makes all the difference: missional-incarnational. The idea of being God’s sent people is combined with the reminder that God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, became a flesh and blood human. (John 1 provides a lot of help in understanding the biblical concept of the Incarnation: “the Word became a flesh and blood human being and moved into the neighborhood” – v. 14.)

How has the meaning of the word missional become obscured for you? How do you think adding the term incarnational helps?

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