Forming missional DNA in our congregations

Posted on June 27, 2013 by VMMissions Staff

“If you want to dig a new hole, don’t dig the current one deeper.”

Alan Hirsch shared this at Atlantic Northeast Conferences of Mennonite Church USA, a conference leaders and church planters resource event on May 16 in Lancaster, Pa. Hirsch is an author, speaker, and the founding director of The Forge Mission Training Network, an international organization. Hirsch discussed ideas on reinvigorating and envisioning the church around the mission of God.

There are some pretty sobering statistics around life in the institutional church. George Barna writes in his book, Revolution, that if current trends continue, attendance at churches will drop by 50% by the year 2025. Skip Tobin led a group of church planters, pastors, and VMM staff from Virginia to Pennsylvania to spend the day with Alan Hirsch.

“If we fall in love with our solutions or traditions, we’ll never try to change or improve,” Hirsch said. There is nothing wrong with being proud of our heritage, but the question arises as to whether we will press on to follow where God may lead, in the reality of our present situations. Hirsch warned as well of the “mesmerizing power of institutions.”

Hirsch’s central thought is that God has implanted a missional DNA in every church that seeks to follow Jesus in any time and place; this missional DNA is made up of six simple but connected elements and builds a living structure:

  1. Christology as the center of our lives
  2. Discipleship
  3. Missional incarnational impulse (sending forth and going deep)
  4. Apostolic empowerment
  5. Organic systems
  6. Communitas (a form of community that arises in the midst of a cooperative task)

This event, along with continued reading, discussion, and prayer will hopefully lead Virginia Conference to that greater faithfulness to God, which may look different from where we are, but will be where God wants us to be.


Alan Hirsch discusses ways to reinvigorate the church through six “missional DNA impulses” instead of institutionalism.

Alan Hirsch discusses ways to reinvigorate the church through six “missional DNA impulses” instead of institutionalism.
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