Alan Hirsch and Debra Hirsch on Missional Discipleship

Alan Hirsch at Catalyst Conference

During Catalyst Conference labs, Alan Hirsch and Debra Hirsch discussed missional discipleship.


The big issue of the Christian faith is discipleship. If we fail with discipleship, we fail everywhere. We have been very good at winning people to faith but not discipling them.

Discipleship is increasing our resistance to idols. Idolatry is a big issue of our day.

Worship is offering your whole world back to God.
Discipleship is offering your whole world back to God.

C.S. Lewis said, “I can’t love my wife enough, but I can love her too much by loving her more than I love God. That is idolatry.”


We have bought into the nuclear family as the one true form of family. And some ministers believe that if we strengthen nuclear families that we will be spiritually healthy. However, the nuclear family was actually popularized during the Industrial Revolution. The global Kingdom idea of family incorporates a much more open concept of family that includes orphans and widows and others.

In Western culture, we have become focused on protecting and caring for our spouse and children rather than opening that up to include serving others.


We disciple everyone not just Christians. Discipleship’s role is to point people toward Jesus regardless of how close or far away they are from a relationship with Christ. God looks at the heart, but we look at the external.

There can be someone close to Christ but looking the opposite direction. And there can be someone far away from Christ that are looking towards Him.

When does conversion take place? When we see the missional task as discipleship, it will change our world.

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Alan Hirsch on Viral Movements

Verge Conference Session 2

Alan Hirsch discussed doing church like a virus during Verge Conference’s 2nd session. Here is what he said:

Viruses can teach us a lot of things. You can be infected by an idea.

In 11 iterations of a U.S. Christian discipling 3 people then them doing the same, you’d pretty much cover all of America. What if each church committed to plant 3 churches in its lifetime?

If we want to reproduce, we need to have something that is reproducible. If it can’t be easily passed on to another, then you shouldn’t do it.

Big budgeted churches are clunky and not easily reproduced. Paul planted a church in 9 days. If your concept of leadership takes 7 years of seminary, it is too complicated.

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Alan Hirsch on Communitas

Alan Hirsch

Alan Hirsch discussed fear of failure at Catalyst’s second lab. Here is what he said:

Victor Turner is a cultural anthropologist that studied the rituals and rites of passage for young African boys into manhood. The ordeal the boys would endure through their rite of passage created a bond deeper that community. It created communitas (takes community to the next level and allows the whole of the community to share a common experience, usually through a rite of passage).

Journeys of adventure can change you significantly.

One of the most profound sense of communitas in the US was 9/11.

In the Bible, when David was in the cave with his band of warriors, communitas was created. When Moses and the Israelites wandered the wilderness for 40 years, communitas was created. The exile formed communitas. Jesus and the 12 disciples were a journey of communitas, so was the group of 70.

The Church in the west is in big, big trouble. The Church is fine in the east. The early church and the Chinese church grew exponentially (BOOM!) despite their persecution. Mission is risky. If you create a community that avoids all risk, the people are stifled.

In trying to reach men particularly, we can learn from this. We can journey together. C.S. Lewis says, “Women are face-to-face creatures, and men are side-by-side creatures.” There is something about a bonding experience that we can learn from, experiences like Habitat for Humanity.

Creating artificial environments at church do not prepare people to cope with the rest of the week. Middle class has an obsession with safety and security. The problem is that we undermine our ability to engage the real world. No wonder we form religious enclaves. We easily forget the good things that God has done for us when we are in a safe zone.

Take some journeys. You can change the world.

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