A Lenten/Holy Week Examen from Alan and Debra Hirsch's Untamed


Lent is drawing near its dramatic close. Holy Week arrives this coming Sunday.

And just at this time, Alan Hirsch has a new book out, this one co-authored with his wife and missional co-conspirator of many years, Debra Hirsch. It's called Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship.

Among its more insightful paragraphs is this one:

We do inhabit a church of what some commentators call "Christianity Lite," and, by all accounts, it is us who have been acculturated-- not the other way around. We have come to believe through hard experience and through lots of reflection that the church has been deeply compromised by aspects of the prevailing culture. Christians now easily reflect the characteristics and the conditions of the wider culture. But what we have gained in relevancy we lose in witness and impact, and "though popular culture holds tremendous potential for good, unfortunately today's trend is towards a diversionary, mindless, celebrity-driven superficiality. Sadly, this reflects our general societal condition, for popular culture can only rise to the spiritual, intellectual and artistic heights of its average citizenry."

and then, a few paragraphs later, this quote from Bill Hybels regarding Willow Creek...

"If you simply want a crowd, the 'seeker sensitive' model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it's a bust."

There's nothing in either of those two brief pieces all that shocking to most of you reading this, I would imagine. My guess is we'd simply agree for the most part.

But few have put these cases so succinctly lately as Hirsch has done here. This is nothing less than a throwing down of the gauntlet in the face of leadership in many places who seem content with "diversionary, mindless, superficial" Christianity, simply because it turns out to be, as Bill Hybels noted, quite effective at drawing a crowd.

But this sort of critique points both ways. It wouldn't be enough for us simply to side with Alan and Debra Hirsch here and call it good. It actually remains for us to answer the charge with a demonstration that we are committed to producing a form of Christian community and living witness that is crucial (in all its senses) rather than diversionary, mindful rather than mindless, and prepared to go to boundless depths rather than being superficial.

So, reviving the ancient Lenten/Holy Week practice, I put the examen to all of us:

1) How is discipleship to Jesus crucial-- at the crossroads-- of your daily life? What are you doing to help support it being that way for others around you?

2) How is discipleship to Jesus mindful-- challenging you to be fully aware to God and the world around you and to think and question critically? What are you doing or what are others around you doing that help support such "Jesus-mindfulness" or "kingdom-mindfulness" in others?

3) To what depths are you prepared to go-- not might wish to go, maybe, but actually prepared at this moment? Who and what will challenge and support you to go deeper yourself and help others do the same?

Peace in Christ,

Taylor Burton-Edwards