To start this review off, I would first like to say how much I appreciate Alan Hirsch and the work he’s done to encourage believers into a more authentic, Jesus-centered life. I have never read one of his books without wanting to pursue Jesus more and more. Hirsch’s books, such as The Forgotten Ways and ReJesus, have shaped my views on Christianity significantly and I am grateful for his work.
That being said, upon reading 5Q, I had mixed feelings.
First, I struggled to determine the audience Hirsch hoped to reach. If you’ve read The Forgotten Ways, you’ll know that Alan can be highly intellectual and geeky (in a good way) when talking about movements and organizations. It’s a style and it’s for a particular audience. In his other books, he seemed more serious and straightforward. In this book, however, he seemed more repetitive and over-emphasized that 5Q was huge and worth taking seriously. In other words, it just felt forced and less serious. A prime example of this is when he referred to the reader as “Padawan” numerous times throughout the book. At first, it was humorous, but over time it just seemed out of place and odd. Take a few of these quotes, for instance:
“Feel the strength of it as the Word of God, my Padawan.”
“How’s your mind doing now, Padawan?”
“Note that this is going to sound mystical because in fact it is mystical. So follow closely, Padawan.”
If this was any of the new hip Christian self-help books, I would understand the cultural connection to Star Wars and soak in all the midichlorian energy that encompasses becoming a Jedi. But this book was about theology, church, Jesus, and movements. It just didn’t fit in my opinion.
On top of that, as someone who studies what makes stories great, subtlety is important. If you discover a great idea and share it with me along with supporting examples and evidence, I’ll probably believe it’s great. However, if you try and convince me every few pages that I should listen (even if it’s a good idea), it’s harder to follow. That’s what I felt like Hirsch did in the first half of the book. Not only did he repeat himself, but he repeated on how great his discoveries were over and over again. He should have let the ideas speak for themselves.
Now, thankfully, he did for the second half of the book and I learned a lot from it.
Coming this fall I will be leading a non-Christian organization, and I look forward to implementing a five-fold approach to how we function. I’m interested to see how well it will work and if it will benefit those who aren’t Christian. I’m hoping it provides checks and balances to the organization and will help us grow and thrive.
Also, the use of APEST to measure how effective churches are is a brilliant idea. For so long, I’ve pondered of ways to measure discipleship and churches in a manner that’s not legalistic, but full of grace. I think using APEST to do this might work well for many churches and provide them with more than just a few sacraments to use once a week.
All in all, I’d give this book a 3/5 stars because even though it had a rough start, I was satisfied, encouraged, and equipped by the end of it. I’d recommend it first to those not well versed in the five-fold ministry described in Ephesians 4, but also to anyone interested in continuing the discussion on churches, Christianity, movements, and mission.