By Jason Rissler
Church Planter
Cross Connections

Having Alan and Debra Hirsch with us in Ohio Conference for two days is a true gift. My life and ministry have been tremendously enriched by their ministry.

One of my first interactions with Alan Hirsch was in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as Alan spoke with Lancaster Conference leaders and Mennonite church planters. He put into words things that I felt stirring in me regarding the state of the church. One specific thing that he spoke about was the decline of the American church as well as a new paradigm to think about the church. His challenge to us as church leaders is to make decisions today that will positively impact the history of the church.

I was privileged to hear Alan and Debra several times at an Exponential church planting conference. Together they talked about incarnational mission. Using Jesus as an example, they looked at how he lived as “one of us” from within the culture. They spoke, using stories and practical applications, about ways that we can follow Jesus’ example in embracing the culture, living into it and sharing the gospel from within the culture. This teaching has turned my thinking on evangelism and mission upside down.

Along with some of you, I heard Alan speak at the Mennonite Convention in Kansas City. Alan talked about the importance of embracing the APEST (apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher) leadership model found in Ephesians 4:11. He challenged us that each one of these giftings is essential in the church. In our work in Strasburg we have paid special attention to having all five of these gifts in operation.

I look forward to continuing to learn from Alan and Debra as they come to Kidron in March for our missional conference. I hope that you take this wonderful opportunity and come with a group of leaders from your church.