- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (February 28, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470907746
- ISBN-13: 978-0470907740
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church 1st Edition
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From the Inside Flap
The Permanent Revolution
The Permanent Revolution is an original work of theological re-imagination and re-construction that draws from biblical studies, theology, organizational theory, leadership studies, and key social sciences. The book elaborates on the apostolic role rooted in the five-fold ministry from Ephesians 4 (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers), and its significance for the missional movement.
Throughout the book, the authors propose a revolutionary missional ecclesiology that is shaped by the New Testament account of apostolic imagination, ministry, and strategy. The aim is to reclaim the ministry by which the church is to remain centered on its calling to be the instrument of God's mission, and that everything it is and does ought to relate to and demonstrate that calling. To (re)capture the practice of apostolicity, the authors explore how the apostolic ministry facilitates ongoing renewal in the life of the church and focus on leadership in relation to missional innovation and entrepreneurship. They examine the nature of organization as reframed through the lens of apostolic ministry and explore how apostolic leadership provides new and missionally creative ways forward.
The Permanent Revolution is filled with challenging concepts and is replete with innovative ideas. Rather than providing a prescriptive model for leadership, it offers spiritual prods and suggestive thought experiments that are designed to stimulate imagination as well as action. If faithful leaders are to take up the work of ministry as laid out in the New Testament, this book offers a significant pathway to help equip them to better fulfill their mission.
Check out an excerpt from the book (PDF) that describes the ministries of apostles, prophets, and evangelists, and the roles they can play in the modern church.
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The first part of the book outlines the roles that each of the five-fold ministry gifts play in the body of Christ. The apostles are the custodians of the churches DNA. They extend the church into new ground. They tend to be entrepreneurial risk takers. The prophets are guardians of faithfulness. They call “all to live faithfully in covenant relationship with God” (29). The evangelist is one who recruits to the cause. They are always “looking to create a positive encounter between people and the core message of the Gospel” (35). They are exceptional recruiters, social connectors, and sharers of Good News. The shepherd (Hirsch and Catchim use the term shepherd instead of pastor) focuses on creating empathic community. Their job is to create “a healthy community, with nurturing people in the faith, and caring for the welfare of the people” (43). The job of the teacher is to bring wisdom and understanding.
The second part of the book examines the role of the apostle in great depth. Unfortunately, the apostle has been neglected in the modern church. This is because some have worried that having modern day apostles subtracts from the role the original twelve apostles played in writing the cannon of Scripture. Hirsch and Catchim make clear there are no textual grounds for the apostolic to be eliminated (259). Hirsch and Catchim argue that “Apostles, then and now, have an irreplaceable purpose in maintaining ongoing missional capacities, generating new forms of ecclesia, and working for the continual renewing of the church…” (99). The apostle is a pioneer, a planter, a bridger, and a builder (106). The apostle plants churches, oversees, strengthens churches, develops leaders, ordains ministers, supervises and coordinates ministries, manages crisis, and networks with other ministries (106). Hirsch and Catchim believe the apostle interprets the Gospel, is an agent of doctrinal integrity, is a designer, and innovator, a change agent, a net worker, and a founder (106).
Hirsch and Catchim see a difference between apostles like Paul and apostles like Peter. Paul was a pioneer and Peter was a miner and both types of apostles are needed today. Pauline apostles extend the mission of the church, they explore, they operate cross culturally, and operate as entrepreneurs. Petrine apostles reframe the identity and mission of the church, they focus on refounding the church. Both types of apostles are custodians, networkers, architects, guardians, translocal, and manage meaning (122).
According to Hirsch and Catchim, apostles, prophets, and evangelists will dominate the early cycles of a moment. Later, the shepherd and the teacher will take over. In an effort to seek equilibrium, pastors and teachers often push out apostles, prophets, and evangelists. But the apostolic gift is needed to recreate and extend the organization from time to time. The apostle works to preserve the core and stimulate progress (149). This book argues that the apostle serves as the entrepreneur and innovator of the church. Entrepreneurs have an internal freedom to explore, a sense of holy dissatisfaction, a capacity for ideation, an ability to take on risk, permission and the space to experiment, entrepreneurial intensity, and dogged resiliency (166-170). These qualities give apostles the ability to continually recreate the church for changing cultures and to extend the Gospel into areas that have not been exposed to the message of Christ.
The Permanent Revolution defines a missional church as an apostolic church. The word “mission” comes from the Latin term missio which means “sent.” The Greek term is apostolos (ἀπόστολος) which means “sent ones.” It is the root of the word “apostle.” God is a missionary God. He sends His Son. In the same way that God sent His Son, He now sends believers. Every believer is “one who is sent” out into the world. In this sense, every believer is on a mission and could be called a missionary. Believers on a mission gathered together form a missional church. To be a fully functioning church, these believers need APEST leadership.
According to his bio, Alen Hirsch is “known for his innovative approach to mission. [He is] considered to be a thought-leader and key mission strategist for churches across the western world.” He is on the associate faculty at Wheaton College. He leads a local church movement called “Forge Mission Training Network.” Tim Catchim “functions as a multi-functional entrepreneur.” He has started both businesses and churches. He serves as a coach and consultant for V3 Movement, a church planting organization. His position as both an entrepreneur and a minister makes him uniquely qualified to examine the role of the apostle.
The purpose of this book is to bring back the role of the apostle to the church today. In this purpose, the authors are successful. It would be hard, even for those who deny that apostles exist, to argue with the persuasive arguments of Hirsch and Catchim. They make it obvious that apostolic gifting is needed today if the church is going to survive in a post-modern world.
It is refreshing to hear someone from mainstream evangelicalism talk about the need for apostles in the church today. Far too many reformed theologians believe that the need for apostles died out when the cannon of Scripture was completed. This lack of apostleship makes the church weak and anemic. But, the work done in this book is thirty years behind where the Charismatic church is. Spirit-empowered churches are full of apostles, prophets, and evangelists. Charismatic churches have always taken the five-fold ministry gifts very seriously and they teach about them prolifically. Hirsch rejects the ideas of C. Peter Wagner and the New Apostolic Reformation but instead of rejecting them, perhaps he should listen to them since their focus on apostles mirrors Hirch’s own and predates his interest by decades. Perhaps instead of calling them “charismaniacs,” (xxi) he should conclude that the reason why they are growing exponentially is precisely because they believe strongly in apostolic “superpastors.”
One problem with APEST theology is that the original Greek of Ephesians 4:11 does not support a five-fold ministry but rather a four-fold ministry that combines the pastor/teacher into one gift. Another flaw with APEST theology is that Ephesians 4:11 is only one of several lists that Paul makes of gifts in the body of Christ. Romans 12:6-7 talks about the gift of prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and showing mercy. 1 Corinthians 12:28 mentions “first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.” Hirsch and Catchim believe that “what is being referred to in Ephesians 4 is something more substantial, more permanent, and more decisive” (25) then these other lists. However, not every member of the body of Christ fits into the five-fold ministry. This fact renders their analysis and their APEST test to be substantially lacking.
The Permanent Revolution has an underdeveloped understanding of the evangelist. Hirsch and Catchim write, “Although a historical case can be made for itinerant evangelists who roam far and wide, it seems that most evangelists operate in close relationship and proximity to a local congregation…” (65). They write, “evangelists are unlikely to wander too far from home base, they are what we call supralocal” (65). This author knows dozens of evangelists, and few of them stay put in one location. Evangelists tend to have an itch to travel to preach the Gospel, similar to Philip the evangelist in Acts 8 who preached first in Samaria, then on the desert road, and then in Caesarea. In fact, many of the qualities that Hirsch and Catchim attribute to the apostle more closely fit the evangelist. In their effort to build up apostolic ministry, they downgraded evangelistic ministry.
Hirsch and Catchim write, “seminaries are the very bastions of the shepherd-teacher type of ministry” (258). They decry the professionalized elitism that often results from seminary training (240). I agree with them that little in seminary targets the unique needs of the apostle, prophet, or evangelist.
Overall, this is an excellent book. The understanding of Hirsch and Catchim of apostolic ministry is unparalleled. Two thousand years ago, the church was built on the foundation of the apostles and as Hirsch and Catchim make clear, apostles are still needed today. This book is an excellent read for anyone who wants the church to continue to be relevant for the next two thousand years.
As a church leader, I can see myself using this as a resource for the remainder of my ministry on earth, helping the body of Christ to grow in to the fullness of Christ, as we look forward to the full revelation of Jesus.
I am adding to this review because my simple, yet poignant position has moved forward into functional practice of and experience of N.T. movement. What role does this book, then and the work and labor of its Authors play? I can only think of the story of Phillip and the Eunuch. I find myself rejoicing as the Eunuch and I see the Authors, especially my friend Tim Catchim as Phillip. Truly, how could I lead a piece of revolutionary movement unless someone show me how a first century movement is understood and put into practice in the 21st century and beyond?
Highly recommend this book and not just because my name graciously appears in the foreword, which I believe is more an attribute of my failures both individually and in encounter with 21st Century crisis than any kind of success. This book is not only a second stage practitioners guide to follow on along the path of deconstruction/construction work laid down in Hirsch's books, as only a highly develped PA skill theologian-practicers experienced Church Planters like Alan Hirsh and Tim Cathim can do, The Forgotten Ways and The Shaping of Things to Come is a hope filled commentary of N. T. Movement of Church leadership and organizational theory and working models which constitute the framework given by God himself that is so pressing in our age of necessitated, rapid innovation. If you find yourself reading the N.T. experience in the book of Acts, the Epistles and the relationship that Jesus had with His disciples and wondering the gap between your own personal experience and training with Church then this book is for you. If, like me, you are fortunate enough to have encountered a N.T. principled movement then pick up this book and find a more concrete language and understanding to take things to another level. There are many books on mission and discipleship such as Mike Breen's "Building a Discipling Culture" that have made their way into seminary and their wisdom and influence is part of the DNA of this book. What you find in The Permanent Revolution is a very nicely consolidated, clear, coherent system of relaying and intertwining N.T. movement in the first century with 21st Century context. The over 10,000 hours of research, practical ministry and mission experience and failures so survived by the authors and contributors legitimize and cry out for more, if not all leaders who God has chosen to hand the responsibility of church leadership to hold fast to this tool, this aid to assist in pulling the first century success out of the annals of history and make 21st church revolution a reality. You can linger is doubt and criticism as I did stuck in the lost hope of imagining the Acts experience today or you can pick up a copy of this book and read with an open faith and responsibility to be the change God is calling us all to be. When I personally came prepared and refreshed with this insight God began pulling me into motion as things around me that I had always tried to manufacture were now being assimilated in His manner. I am but a shadow, but well lit by the light in me that casts a curious eye toward the glorified light of Jesus and His Church in who by grace I stand and have been entrusted to these paradoxical revelations of simplicity, enlightenment and mysteries in the harmony which only the One true King and His Kingdom can bound and hold together until full restoration in the New Heaven and New Earth, until then may the hope and execution of our stewardship be strengthened together as the One Church.