Alan Hirsch proposes a series of factors that are all present where effective church growth occurs – and which must all be present for that growth to occur. Around the central conviction that Jesus is Lord, these key elements are:
- Missional incarnational impulse
- Apostolic environment
- Organic Systems
- Communitas,* not Community
*Communitas is a term which relates to a common endeavour undertaken or challenge faced together.
Obviously, Hirsch unpacks what he means by these five headings and develops subsidiary elements (which I won’t do here at this time). He refers to these key elements as “missional DNA” (or mDNA; for a series developing these ideas in a church setting, check out Phil and Dan McCredden’s mDNA category on their signposts blog). I would agree with the identified elements; but I would consider them not so much mDNA as the components that mDNA is constructed from. That is, I would honestly identify all these elements to exist at St Thomas’ and within The Order of Mission; but I would not say that how St Thomas’ looks is the way every missional church should look; nor that how St Thomas’ looks right now is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than it did twelve months ago, or will look in twelve months time. Just as I have elements of both my parents’ DNA, and our children’s DNA is half from mine and half from Jo’s, and yet our DNA is unique; so I would suggest that every missional church/movement has its own distinct mDNA composed of these key common elements, in unique combination.