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The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21 Century Church Paperback – November, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Passionate.. idealistic.. imaginative.. seminal.. incisive.. visionary.. these are some of the words that come to mind [about this book]." -- nextreformation.com, June 2004

"The book is full of stories, full of insights, and full of passion but is not for the faint hearted." -- Journal of Youth and Theology, April 2004

"The only way forward is to ‘thoroughly contextualize the gospel within the culture/subcultures to which Christ has called us.’" -- Youthwork Magazine, April 2004

From the Publisher

Nominated for the Christianity Today 2004 Book of the Year Award in the Mission/Global Affairs category

Nominated for the 2004 Christian Book of the Year Award in Australia


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Hendrickson Pub (November 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565636597
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565636590
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #613,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Frost (1961 - ) is an internationally recognised missiologist and one of the leading voices in the missional church movement. His books are required reading in colleges and seminaries around the world and he is much sought after as an international conference speaker. Frost is the Vice Principal of Morling College and the founding Director of the Tinsley Institute, a mission study centre located at Morling College in Sydney, Australia.

He is the author or editor of fourteen popular Christian books, the most recent of which are the highly successful and award-winning The Shaping of Things to Come (2003, co-authored with colleague Alan Hirsch), Exiles (2006) and The Road to Missional (2011). These books explore a missiological framework for the church in the postmodern era. Frost's books have been translated into German, Korean and Spanish.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Ivan Illich was once asked what is the most revolutionary way to change society.

Is it violent revolution or is it gradual reform?

He gave a careful answer.


If you want to change society,

then you must tell an alternative story."

Tim Costello

Passionate.. idealistic.. imaginative... seminal.. incisive.. visionary.. these are some of the words that come to mind as I consider my six weeks living with "The Shaping of Things to Come." A gripping exegesis of culture, church and history, with some careful theological reflection along the way, Frost and Hirsch contribute to the dialogue on innovation and mission and end up with re-imagining eccelesiology against the backdrop of emerging culture.

The book is organized into four sections and twelve chapters. Instead of an intro a subheading appears: "You must read this bit first." This section is like a manifesto where the authors declare some of their bias - toward missional efforts rather than revitalization (outward vs inward) - that the small and experimental groups around the world may be the best hope of Christianity - that they intend to reshape ecclesiology around mission. The authors consider themselves missionaries more than academics.

In this short section they define two important terms: institutional and missional. Rather than a sociological definition they use a functional one: the church has been an institution to which outsiders come in order to receive a certain product. They argue that the church must redefine itself in terms of mission: to take the gospel to and incarnate the gospel in specific cultural contexts.

Part One "The Shape We're In"

1. Evolution or Revolution?

Read more ›
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Most books I enjoy I read in a matter of a week or two. I'm in month number two with this book. Not because I don't enjoy it, quite the opposite. I enjoy it so much and it's so thought provoking I have to chew on and savor it as much as possible.

The book challenges the very foundations of western Christendom, especially how and why we do church. It acknowledges the evolution of western culture from modern to postmodern and postChristian as well as points out that the Christiandom church remains firmly rooted in the Renaissance. The authors (who are knee deep in the application of their theories) challenge almost every aspect of the modern "church." They take great effort in getting the reader to think outside the box and imagine what church could be.

Another strength of the book is the author's refusal to give instructions on how to create what they call the "incarnational, messianic church." They use examples of some that have been started, but won't allow for their vision to become a 5 step program or formal institution (even though human history suggests its inevitability). Rather, they allow the reader's imagination to roam limitlessly and encourage the reader to aspire and create unique, functional and wonderful communities that give Jesus to people.

In general I dislike most Christian literature. It's too formulaic and/or narrow-minded. But this book will remain in my top 10 for a long time, along with books like; "Blue Like Jazz," "Traveling Mercies," The Ragamuffin Gospel," "Searching for God Knows What," "Eternity in Their Hearts," "A New Kind of Christian," and "Let Me Tell You A Story."
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Format: Paperback
If you want to be challenged in your thinking about how we do church and mission you have to read this book. Mike Frost and Alan Hirsch are among the foremost thinkers in the world on these areas. They describe the present state of the church acurately and they articulate a method of contextualization that is reproducable anywhere because they don't tell you to adopt their 'model', but instead give you the tools to incarnate the gospel in your own context. This is especially valuable as quite often many books on mission say "Do it our way". Often what works in one culture will not work in another. This book seeks to articulate the theology and methods that can be appplied as easily in North America as they could be in the middle of Africa.
Mike and Alan are evangelical in their theology and uncompromising on the gospel, but they will not hesitate to challenge and overthrow our sacred cows that hinder our mission to 'not yet Christians'. In their methods they are often radical, in their mission they are always passionate. This book will be a great read even if you don't agree with everything they say. If you want to start thinking outside the box, let me encourage you to read "The Shaping of things to Come".
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Format: Paperback
You will need some time to read this book. The authors present a new paradigm for doing church and missions in our time. They show us something we already know, that the current model (they call Christendom) is failing - and that attempts to maintain the status quo are costing us ground. I will resist the urge to tell you what I found in this book - it would take too long and others have done this well. If you are tired of the current model of pastoral/teacher, bring the lost to church, sing, give, preach, do it again next Sunday... then read this book. Let's rock the boat and start a revolution - let's be bold and creative about how we do Christianity. Let the Holy Spirit work in us today so that we can be couragous like the followers of Jesus were in the early days of the church!
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