This is from the October Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Missio Nexus. These are the best book summaries on the web. Leader’s Edge monthly book summaries and insightful interviews connect you with today’s leading writers in the Great Commission community. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

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Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the October edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Frost and Hirsch’s revised book The Shaping of Things to Come. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation



The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church

Authors: Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch

Publisher: Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2013. 271 pages. Also available in Kindle format (9781441241092).

ISBN: 978-0-8010-1491-8


This book is, by the authors’ own admission, a toned-down version of the first edition that was published in 2003. Yet many will still find its concepts and tone a bit edgy. Nevertheless, the books calls us to leave our traditional models of doing church and reshape them to a more contemporary engaging, outward model. Updated with newer anecdotes, the authors discuss in detail the essence of what it means to be a “missional church.”

 Best chapter

Chapter 2: The Missional Church

“The heart of the problem is that we have been planting churches that are (smaller) carbon copies of the already beleaguered, failing Christendom-style church. The Christendom virus is passed on.” Kindle location 493

“A missional church on the other hand has abandoned the old Christendom assumptions and understands its role as an underground movement, subversive, celebratory, passionate, and communal. Mission is not merely an activity of the church. It is the very heartbeat and work of God.” Kindle location 497

“The missional church recognizes that it does not hold a place of honor in its host community and that its missional imperative compels it to move out from itself into that host community as salt and light.” Kindle location 518

“Second, missional church thinking values the development of shared or joint projects between the Christian community and its host community.” Kindle location 655

“Third, commercial enterprise is important. Bringing positive and tangible change speaks volumes to the host community.” Kindle location 683

“Fourth, indigenous faith communities ought to emerge from all this interaction with a host subculture.” Kindle location 698

“It’s like saying that we want to prepare like an evangelical; preach like a Pentecostal; pray like a mystic; do the spiritual disciplines like a Desert Father, art like a Catholic, and social justice like a liberal.” Kindle location 713

Best quotes

“By definition, the missional church is always outward looking, always changing (as culture continues to change), and always faithful to the Word of God. In many places it is so radical it barely resembles church as we know it. In other cases it might appear conventional but is in fact incarnating itself into its community in surprising and exciting ways.” Kindle location 267

“They have come up with twelve hallmarks of a missional church: The missional church proclaims the gospel. The missional church is a community where all members are involved in learning to become disciples of Jesus. The Bible is normative in this church’s life. The church understands itself as different from the world because of its participation in the life, death, and resurrection of its Lord. The church seeks to discern God’s specific missional vocation for the entire community and for all of its members. A missional community is indicated by how Christians behave toward one another. It is a community that practices reconciliation. People within the community hold themselves accountable to one another in love. The church practices hospitality. Worship is the central act by which the community celebrates with joy and thanksgiving both God’s presence and God’s promised future. This community has a vital public witness. There is a recognition that the church itself is an incomplete expression of the reign of God.” Kindle location 349

“We would like to propose three more, overarching principles that give energy and direction to the above-mentioned marks.

The missional church is incarnational, not attractional, in its ecclesiology
The missional church is messianic, not dualistic, in its spirituality.
The missional church adopts an apostolic, rather than a one-dimensional top-down, mode of leadership.” Kindle location 365″
“We must admit that Christendom, particularly its ecclesiological and its missiological manifestations, amounts to something of a failed experiment. To reiterate, by the term Christendom, we are referring to a period in history when the church assumed influence by its connection to temporal, secular power.” Kindle location 430.

“We propose that what will emerge from the chaos of the current social-historical shift to the postmodern is likely to be a second reformation as the church rediscovers itself as an apostolic movement. In fact, we suggest that if the church in the West does not embrace such a radical recalibration, it will find itself increasingly imperiled.” Kindle location 448

“The attractional church is a bounded set. That is, it is a set of people clearly marked off from those who do not belong to it. Churches thus mark themselves in a variety of ways. Having a church membership roll is an obvious one.” Kindle location 1068

“The missional-incarnational church, though, is a centered set. This means that rather than drawing a border to determine who belongs and who doesn’t, a centered set is defined by its core values, and people are not seen as in or out, but as closer or further away from the center.” Kindle location 1070

“For the centered-set approach to work in the church, it must be grounded in an incarnational mode. If we persist with the attractional approach and then try to think of our church as a centered set, we won’t reach anybody.” Kindle location 1132

“People of peace are key people who are spiritually open, have good reputations, and have influence in the community. When they become believers, they then share their faith confidently with their networks of friendship and start new home-based churches. We suggest new-church planters take more seriously the effective role of the persons of peace, instead of trying a shotgun approach.” Kindle location 1436

“We’re not simply making a play for “relevant” preaching. We are advocating a total recalibration and a radical rethink about the symbols, language, metaphors, vernacular, and idioms we employ when presenting Christ to our world. The church can no longer make excuses for non-contextualized mission.” Kindle location 1754

“Jesus defines us totally. And so it was meant to be. Our primary relationship with God is through the mediation of Jesus the Messiah, and so he remains the central person in Christian consciousness. Our connection with the Trinity is through its Second Person.” Kindle location 2335

“But imagination takes courage, as it involves risk. In fact if there were no courage, there could be no imagination. And if there were no risk, there could be no apostolic leadership, only priestly maintenance and more of the same boring stuff that is keeping people from getting in touch with that most radical and dangerous person.” Kindle location 3847

“The missional leader needs to genuinely commit to the idea of reproducibility prior to actually starting any new venture. The reason is that if the leader or missional team starts with reproducibility as a prior, nonnegotiable commitment, he or she will design the life of the church around that commitment and not try to add it as a subsequent, and somewhat inorganic attachment.” Kindle location 4352

Best illustration

“All the tinkering with the existing model of church that’s going on will not save the day. Simply making minor adjustments like replacing pews with more comfortable seating, or singing contemporary pop songs instead of hymns will not reverse the fundamental decline in the fortunes of the Western church. If you think of the church as a car, we cannot simply take it in for service. We need a whole new model. Or think of the church as a DVD player. If you have a newer Blu-ray disc, you can’t play it on your old DVD player—you need an entirely different device.” “Kindle location 790

 Best idea

“The recovery of a messianic spirituality that hallows the everyday is essential to the missional church because it is in the everyday that the missional church exists. If we are an incarnational community, the church must recover the ability to see God in the so-called ordinary world of action.” Kindle location 2812

 Best take away

“What we propose is a reversing of the three mistakes made by the Christendom-mode church. The missional church, by its very nature, will be an anticlone of the existing traditional model. Rather than being primarily attractional, it will be incarnational. It will be willing to leave its own comfortable religious zones and live in direct contact with non-churchgoers, seeping into the host culture like salt and light. It will be an infiltrating, transformational community. Second, rather than being dualistic, it will embrace a messianic spirituality. That is, a spirituality of engagement with culture and the world in the same mode as the Messiah himself. And third, the missional church will develop an apostolic form of leadership rather than the traditional hierarchical model.” Kindle location 770


If you are still attempting to get a handle on what it means to be “missional” as opposed to the “traditional” church expression, this book will help you understand the two. For missionaries, it may help understand some of the newer mission directions and activities coming out of more forward-thinking churches that seemingly put you on their sideline.


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