Another book I recently finished – mentioned in my last post – is Exponential by Dave and Jon Ferguson, brothers and church planters. The full title is actually Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement. The book uses the journey of Community Christian Church in the Chicago area to explore aspects of missional movements, ranging from movement on micro/individual levels to movement on a macro/organizational. A few areas the book raised interesting questions for me, and two areas in particular caught my eye:
Discipleship. The author’s argue that in most churches, discipleship has nothing to do with mission and instead is often yet another aspect of the consumer nature of the church (45). So, instead of disciples, the authors use the word apprentice. Throughout the book, the idea of apprenticeship is explored, largely pertaining to leadership over others. An interesting conversation might arise about how leadership and discipleship, as defined by the book, differ. The Ferguson’s seem to suggest that discipleship – apprenticeship – is about doing and leading. I think there might need to be more room in a discipleship model for exploring being.
Growth. One of the reoccurring themes of the book is that you, too, can create something that grows wildly and successfully. From teams, to small groups, to community’s, to organizations, the book recounts stories of growth in numbers. I recognize and affirm that healthy things grow, but I still wonder if there needs to be more room in the conversation about what growth measured in non-numerical ways might look like. I appreciated the willingness to recognize that certain models work for certain communities (and that some models will and should fail in certain contexts), but would like to see a richer and deeper dialogue about church growth in non-mega (or moving toward mega) contexts.
Overall, Exponential is a good read. There are lots of diagrams, ideas, and suggestions thrown out there – at least one of which would probably be extremely helpful in your context. The book is well structured, starting small and moving outward, and is consistent in its message. It definitely is intended more for the large church missional conversation, but has some insights that can be applied at all levels and sizes of communities.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher as part of the Exponential blog tour.