On the Verge is an amazing snapshot and leadership guide to what church just may be in the first part of the 21st century. Hirsch and Ferguson have teamed up to give us a look inside 12 churches that are experimenting with life "on the edge" of where contemporary Christian communities are in an effort to bring forward the best practices for how we can be church whether large or small, urban or suburban and yes even rural!
Because, face it, we aren't being churches all that well right now. But the authors' main point is salient and very well-taken... churches as they are constructed and run today are basically competing for the same share of the marketplace with other churches and so they are in the arms race of being the "best" everything to everyone. We have lost our missional impulse, the impulse that says, "No, the real market is the world of unbelievers who are running around outside our door and never being invited into a community of faith!"
These 12 profiled communities are examples of those who "get it" in the 21st century... there will be no more institutionalization of the church, we simply can't affort to calcify traditions. What is needed is a constant cycle of imagination, shifting and innovation. If a church leader can help his people capture that process as their new life together, they will have every chance of surviving and thriving in the new era.
The book is hard to put down. It is something every leader will want to explore with their council or elders. I especially implore pastors in smaller mainline churches who think they don't have much else to offer the world to give the world that Hirsch and Ferguson are painting a look. It may just be the hope you are looking for.