A Feature Review of
The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church
Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim
Reviewed by Andy Johnson
When measuring the church’s effectiveness and suggesting paths toward improvement we must start by evaluating our paradigm. What are we trying to accomplish? Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim, co-authors of The Permanent Revolution, believe that the church is meant for more than maintaining a safe haven for believers in the heart of Christian civilization.
The church that Jesus intended “…was specifically designed with built-in, self-generative capacities and was made for nothing less than world-transforming, lasting, and, yes, revolutionary impact.” (xxiv) Although movement toward a more missional approach has gathered momentum in recent years, The Permanent Revolution proposes that there is a systemic flaw that will always impede our progress until it is addressed.
Jesus designed a five-fold ministry to carry out the mission of his church (Eph 4:11). The flaw in our efforts is that we have largely ignored the place of apostles, prophets and evangelists, choosing instead a shepherd-teacher model. Limiting ourselves in this way leaves us designed to achieve what we are currently achieving.
The permanent revolution that the church is intended to embody will only break through as an apostolic movement. Compared to a religious institution, an apostolic movement is a group of empowered disciples, led by the five-fold ministry and gathered around mission rather than a centralized organizational structure.
The theme of this book centers around the authors’ conviction that rediscovering the apostolic role and putting it back into practice is critical to our mission. Although they briefly differentiate their view of apostolic ministry from what is found in twentieth century charismatic literature, more context for how their view of the apostolic role compares to other understandings would have been helpful.
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