The late American novelist and essayist David Foster Wallace tells the story of two young fish swimming along when an older fish passes them and says, "Morning, boys. How's the water?" The two young fish continue on until one eventually asks the other, "What the heck is water?"
As a young bi-vocational pastor in a missional church, I find myself in the position of that young fish, swimming along "doing" ministry—writing sermons, meeting in small groups, connecting with my neighbors—when every so often an old fish swims by and reminds me that I don't know what I don't know, and I have to discover everything I'm unaware of. The church needs wise, seasoned practitioners who can see clearly and speak prophetically to a church mired in pragmatism and cynicism.
Though they may not like the mantle of "old fish," Alan and Debra Hirsch are just that in their new book Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship. Mixing personal stories with biblical exposition and application, they identify the primary ways our theology, understanding of culture, and personal identities have been tamed in the waters of American Christianity.
While some authors these days write about "the water" without getting wet, Alan and Debra are immersed in the realities they write about. Having lived among the poor and marginalized in their native Australia, Alan now directs the Forge Mission Training Network, while Debra ministers with the Tribe of Los Angeles, "an eclectic bunch of missional artists and vagabonds in downtown L.A."
The couple's primary concern throughout the book is to link missional activity with robust, incarnational discipleship. Discipleship, they emphasize, is the missing piece of incarnational mission. They propose ...