Alan Hirsch – Comunitas within a Movement

Alan Hirsch has a reputation for learning by acting, not educating.  One of the most powerful concepts he has been exposed to, and develops upon, is the learning/formation that takes place through comunitas.  I would like to apply some of his conecpts in our church by developing a series of shared, weekend, local projects this fall.  Hopefully our eyes would be opened to a second and deeper step after this.

Illustrations of Comunitas

  • African tribes drop a group of adolescents into the middle of the woods together for six months. They then pick them up, and for months let them tell the stories to the other men around the fire. They are men now. They experienced comunitas, community with crisis depth.
  • NYC during 9/11.
  • Abraham isn’t shown the picture until he hits the road and goes on faith.
  • Exodus from Egyptian slavery, through desert crisis, into Promised Land. They still define who they are today by what took place in the Exodus.
  • Only in exile did Israel purge themselves of all idolatry.

How do we Create Liminality (purposeful crisis situation that breeds comunitas)? 

  • Unearthing eschatology creates urgency.
  • Add risks to ministry – opportunity to fail. Put your church at risk for the sake of learning.
  • Engage the poor. You’ll always see Jesus in a new way if you engage the poor.
  • Ritualize the renewal process. Maybe create a rite of passage for full inclusion.
  • Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be dangerous – you just have to accomplish something together.

All Living Systems Tend Toward Equilibrium

  • Like throwing a fish bowl fish into the sea, most of us die when removed from our structures of safety & security. For example, 80% of churched kids lose their faith in the first months of college.
  • We need to disturb equilibrium to restore hardiness.
  • All church movements (Wesleyans, early church, china, etc…) were bred in disequilibrium. Vision creates disequilibrium. Spending 50% of resources inside and 50% outside the church would create disequilibrium. Pursue a preferred future. Pursing a preferred future make your church more porous.

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