Alan Hirsch: Proponent of Church Membership?

There is the common assumption that the missional church advocates with the emphasis on organic life, lack of structure, and strong critique of all things Christendom are also willing to throw church membership into the dumpster fire of the disintegrating American evangelical church.

Yet, a footnote in Gregg Allison’s Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church on page 127 provides an interesting quote from Alan Hirsch’s The Forgotten Way: Reactivating the Missional Church. On page 40 of that work, Hirsch describes the necessity of the church exemplifying a “covenantal community.” Hirsch writes, 

“A covenantal community: A Church is formed not by people just hanging out together, but ones bound together in a distinctive bond. There is a certain obligation toward one another formed around a covenant.”

While there is liberty in how a local church might bind Christians together into a covenant community (traditional church membership vows, signing a church’s localized ‘covenant’, or some third way), what Hirsch articulates here essentially an argument for church membership that even an Ed Clowney would agree with.

The question is, do some of Hirsch’s fans and followers agree with Hirsch on this point?


One thought on “Alan Hirsch: Proponent of Church Membership?

  1. Thanks for the post, Daniel. I would like to add to the discussion by suggesting that on this important topic, it is true that we must ask not only are people willing to do more than hang out, and enter into some kind of covenant (which is the general counsel that Hirsch is advocating here).

    But beyond this, we must also ask, is there a biblical exercise of authority over the communion of saints who have covenanted together by pastor-shepherd-elder-bishops who themselves believe they must “give an account” before Almighty God for their work of souls (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:ff).

    Do you know if Hirsch believes in the traditional “marks” of the church, which would include the right administration of the Sacraments, and the right exercise of church discipline?

    Thanks again for posting.

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