Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Notes - On The Verge

On The Verge is a deep and challenging text for the future of the Church. It's what you would expect from Alan Hirsch including lots of paradigms, filters and lenses as well as lots of diagrams - and yes this is a good thing. I also appreciated narrative from Dave Ferguson too, which combines that deep thinking with some practical examples of execution. There is a ton of stuff in this book, so any review or notes here is going to lack. In the meantime though, the authors draw from a ton of other critical and important voices and resources in organizational strategy, movement thinking, organizational dynamics and catalytic leadership, such as: Dan Pink, Rob Wegner, Jim Collins, Blue Ocean Strategy, Steve Addison, Erwin McManus, Alex McManus, the Diffusion of Innovation scale, Scott Belsky, The Tipping Point, Bob Roberts and Made to Stick, Neil Cole and David Garrison. If any of those voices or resources resonate with you, you'll probably love this book as well. Also, if this 60:40 problem makes you want to do something, you should read this book.

There is also a ton of stuff from The Forgotten Ways [which is one of our favorite books to use with students] so On The Verge is kind of like a second volume, with more details in how to actually navigate those ideas from a leadership perspective. Here's some of the stuff that jumped out at me. Really though, you should probably read it for yourself.

One of the biggest cultural shifts of our time is the increasingly multiculture nature of the West. The brute fact is that most of the evangelical church leaders who will read this book will be white, suburban and middle-class, and the equally stark reality is that within decades, Anglo-Saxon Americans will be in the minirotiy in the US - yet our churches don't seem to be responding to this reality.

...suggest that every church, indeed every believer, has the full capacity for world transformation within, and when we can believe that, then we will begin to see the church very differently. In every apple, there is an orchard. [written in a different section...]

Our best estimate is that 10 percent of the people in most churches seem to understand that they are sent by Jesus and that they are Spirit-empowered to incarnate the gospel in their context, as Jesus was. [this shocked me. what about you?]

Entrenched myths as part of the institutional paradigm:
- Build it and they will come
- The church is the bastion of family values
- The church is the guardian of society's morals
- We need clergy, buildings and Sunday services in order to be a real church
- We are a Bible teaching church.

Dave and Alan are both 'fuzzy complementarians' - I want to know what that means. [tangent]

The movement itself is its own R&D department.

[Also, lots of talk about ethos: spontaenous recurring patterns of behavior... - probably one of the most valuable leadership principles I've ever been taught]

Bob Roberts Jr says that every church that values multiplication will measure success or failure outside its walls.

Network Like Mad - This principle of church can become an extremely powerful practice. We know from networking theory that it not only bolsters the relational fabric of the church and forms the basis of decentralized movements but also is the source of much innovation and creativitiy. so the practice of networking - getting everyone connected, everyone commissioned, and everyone accountable - can be powerful if you can figure out ways to enshrine it in the rhythms of the church.

The new vision [at Dave's church] was a dramatic missional shift toward what we called the Sixty-seven and the Twenty. If the world were a village of one hundred people, sixty-seven of those would be far from God, and twenty of those would live in extreme poverty.

We told people, 'If you aim for Acts 2 community, you will expeience real community,' but what we discovered was that Acts 2 community only came as a result of Acts 1 mission. - Austin Stone

Verge leader
1 - leads from the front, not the back
2 - leads with curiosity, not with certainty
3 - leads with a yes and asks how later

democratize innovation
Let me be clear: Yes doesn't mean you will fund the idea. And in most cases, you absolutely shouldn't fund the missional ideas of others. You may do more harm than good. Yes also doesn't mean you'll assign a staff person to oversee it.... Yes simply means you really do believe that what they are describing is needed, and by using their giftedness with God's help, it could be accomplished for the good of the Jesus mission.

Out of the box cultures
1 - beta, not better
2 - trusting, and trustworthy
3 - permission is assumed and forgiveness is expected
4 - hurry up … wait
5 - fail forward fast
6 - love the edge
7 - they put their money where your mouth is
8 - everyone gets to play
9 - no R&D department

Keeping the ethos of movement strong: ordain every Christ follower.

8 movement rules
1 - there are no rules
2 - the small rules
3 - the simple rules
4 - the reproducible rules
5 - the apprentice rules
6 - the network rules
7 - the sustainable rules
8 - the spirit rules

I have little doubt that the biggest blockage to people-movements is the professionalization of the ministry of Jesus Christ. It has two effects: 1 - it limits ministry to an elite group which inevitably replaces the priesthood of all believers/apprentices, and 2 - it lets the people of God off the hook of their God-given calling to be apprentices who are agents of the King in every sphere and domain.

The great Christian revolutions come not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when someone takes radically something that was always there. - Neibuhr

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you. II Tim 1:6

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes.


  1. Thanks again for the review, Tony. If your readers have any questions about On The Verge I would be happy to interact with them here. Dave

  2. thanks dave - that's awesome.

    ok readers - ask em if you got em.