Wolfgang Simson's "The Starfish Manifesto: A Prophetic Roadmap for an Apostolic Journey" stands as one of the most important and thought-provoking writings I have ever read.
The October/09 release of the document during the Antioch Gathering is a good 5-10 years ahead of the pack. In the same way "Houses That Change the World" (re-released as The House Church Book) was a ground-breaking book whose ideas have taken many years to slowly "leaven the dough"--so too, are the challenging concepts presented in The Starfish Manifesto. I predict it will take a few years before Simson's latest book is given the attention it deserves--even by those within the house/simple/organic church movement. Why?
Starfish Manifesto is simply too radical. It assumes Jesus should be first in all areas of our life, and our citizenship should be transferred from the competing kingdoms of 1) self, 2) our organizations/denominations, 3) our nationalities, to absolute and total allegiance to Jesus and His Kingdom alone. While many of us assume we have already done these things when we gave our life to Christ (and even serve Him in various ministerial capacities), SM blows out of the water all of our naive, watered-down versions of what it means to follow Christ. It calls into question too much of our comfortable, Western, individualistic, contemporary-Evangelical-lifestyle.
To align ourselves fully with Jesus teachings, apostolic principles and values as outlined in the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles, is simply more than most of us are willing to deal with. Our lives are pretty set. Our ministry plates already full. We have convinced ourselves, we are "OK" as we are. Few of us are ready for anything that might call into question the life we have set up for ourselves.
While SM is a natural sequence to Simson's "Houses That Change the World", it makes "Houses" seem like a mere introduction to what must eventually become the new paradigm--namely the rule and sovereign reign of Jesus Christ in every area of our life. Yes, this is the same "Kingdom message" Jesus preached during his years here on earth, but a Kingdom we have never quite understood or submitted to.
While the move to more simple/organic church is certainly one of the first steps, it is only the beginning of what must take place. There are many other areas also needing realignment with the King/Kingdom before the church will be positioned to bring in the final great global harvest. Simson even assumes 1st century apostolic signs, miracles, casting out demons, and wonders should be normative. Why then, are they not? Why do we continue to try to do God's work in the power of our own efforts with minimal results? Simson spends many pages attempting to answer these very questions.
The Starfish Manifesto has a way of putting into words many of the same issues I have long been sensing and feeling in my own spirit, but have not had the language to express. SM clearly calls into question much of what we continue to think as "normal"--yet grossly sub-normal Christianity. The reader many not agree with everything Simson writes, but to refuse to grapple with the prophetic voice within its pages will most certainly "short-circuit" and further delay the full expression of "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
As more and more people begin to engage the SM, I predict an even louder outcry than that caused by "Houses." What makes this a particularly tough read is that something deep in our spirits desperately wants these things to be true and part of our own lives, and yet recognize they are not. To move from "A" (where I currently find myself) to "B" (where I'd like to be) is quite a step of faith. Those of us in the whole house/simple/organic church movement who think we are already at "B" have a lot to consider within these pages. I, for one, want to move forward from this day onward with humility, fear and trembling to engage in the process of what I sense the Lord is leading us to move from "A" to "B".
If you dare to tackle the subject matter within its pages, I would first suggest downloading The Starfish Vision, to get a taste of what the Manifesto is all about. If something "clicks" as it did with my wife and I as we read through the "Reader's Digest" version, then you will want to download the entire Manifesto (a whopping 541-page pdf file) which is much more detailed and comprehensive.
If there is one criticism I might have of both works, is that, at least for the moment, they are only available as pdf documents. Most people find reading long pdf documents on their computer screen tedious. Even the available Kindle version which we downloaded from amazon.com for $0.01 (can't beat the price!) is poorly formatted, making it somewhat difficult to read. It is my understanding that a print version of the book is planned in the near future. Once in book form, I believe many more people will begin to engage with the content of this challenging book.
Until then, download and go to the trouble to print out the Starfish Vision. I believe the copy my wife reformatted and printed was 47 pages. If it doesn't shake you to the core, that's OK. Give it a couple of years, and come back and give it a second try! Eventually, all of us who claim to be followers of Christ will have to deal with the uncomfortable issues brought up within these pages.