Alan Hirsch and Ed Stetzer interview (#Exponential 2010)

During the third plenary session of Exponential 2010, Dave Ferguson of New Thing network interviewed Alan Hirsch (Forge America and Shapevine) and Ed Stetzer (Lifeway Research). Here are two great leaders in the missional church movement who see things through different lenses. While these are simply notes I took while listening, I hope there are some nuggets in here that make it worth a read.


  • Proposed metrics in forthcoming book: Are lives being changed? Are churches being changed? And, therefore, are changed people changing the world around them.
  • What can we measure and what should we measure?
  • Measuring conversions, baptisms
  • Measuring how people are growing, maturing, living mission-shaped lives?


  • This is important because how we measure something shows what we value
  • How do we measure discipleship? Is it converts?
  • Can we measure whether people in the church have relationship with people outside the church?


  • We can measure discipleship through people’s engagement with small groups or service ministries


  • Another metric could be whether people who are leading are modeling what they are asking people to do…developing relationships with those outside the church


  • Right, “you cannot lead what you do not live”


  • New book Untamed implies that we’ve domesticated our lives, our discipleship, and our idea of God. Forthcoming book on how these ideas apply to the church. The notion of adventure and risk – Abraham leaving Ur – is almost completely lacking from our theology, our lives, and our view of the church. We view God and church as a very static experience.
  • “The closer we get to Jesus, the more He challenges our middle-class sensibilities.”
  • “If we’re not hanging out with iffy people, then we are not becoming like Jesus.”
  • Engaging with people is to take a risk. C. S. Lewis says that love is basically a risk. ‘The only place where you can be safe from the risk of love is hell.’


  • In study of 7,000 churches, examples of risky churches move past passive, spectator Christianity to “active, disciple-focused Christianity”
  • Too often, we think that the pews = the stands, the stage = the action/game; this is not the way it should be


  • First, we need to allow ourselves to be risk-takers. I chose to do something more stupid or risky every year. We have to risk failure to be a stake-holder.
  • Secondly, you cannot lead where you do not go; you cannot teach what you do not know. We have to be participants in our own knowledge.


  • “If you want to change the world, plant change-agent churches.”


  • Take a few risks. Experiment with church planting.


  • We don’t have the power to do this on our own. What we need is new power that comes from the power of God living in us, changing us, changing our church, and through us, changing the world.

[This is part of a series of note-posts from the Exponential 2010 conference.]

3 thoughts on “Alan Hirsch and Ed Stetzer interview (#Exponential 2010)

  1. Measuring discipleship has been alluring and illusive concept for me.

    One transition I’ve made over the past year or so is to stop talking about “things to do and places to be” (quiet times, small groups, ministry teams, Sunday services) and instead to emphasize characteristics of who to be (repentance, faith, suffering, celebrating, incarnation, atonement, restoration).

    Formation does happen in the former, but presenting the later keeps the real goal the focus.

    • I agree with you, Brian, that measuring discipleship is an alluring and illusive concept. If we become too focused on what you call ‘things to do and places to be’ – the mechanics of discipleship – then we may deceive ourselves into believing that transformation and growth are happening by simply getting people through the activities.

      As you mentioned in your earlier assessment of models of discipleship, so much of Jesus’ disciple-making was un-programmatic and relational through daily life that we do well to take notice of that.

      Will Mancini talks about this in terms of mission marks that we are aiming at in tandem with our strategy of developing that. I appreciate his ‘vision frame’ for keeping these things in their appropriate places.

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