He attributes the growth to the lack of a centralized and defined leadership. The exponential growth is a direct result of an organic system:
Everyone gets to play…everyone. And we’ve locked all that up because we’ve professionalized the ministry.
He goes on to discuss the negative effects of ordination and the clergy/laity distinction:
If I were the Devil and I wanted to strike a real blow at the people movement (the exponential growth) one of the best ways to do it would be to create a clergy class and a laity class.
I couldn’t agree more!
On the positive side, he presses into the early church model of everyone serving as they are gifted as found in Ephesians 4:
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it[a] says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”[b]
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
I agree with Hirsch that one cannot find a developed/centralized leadership expressed in the New Testament and that is why there was such success in the beginning years of the church.
Conversely, the church, especially in the West has become almost universally stagnant in its most recognized and accepted form.
It is certainly refreshing to see so many people interested in moving up and out of the current and ill-fated systems of programmatic church for the real life seen not only in the New Testament, but clearly in China, India and many other parts of the world.
- Rethinking the Church and Culture (frankviola.wordpress.com)