Attractional vs. Missional: Data

mcchurchI apologize for the meandering way these posts are proceeding, but I’m trying to be true to the nature of the conversation going on in evangelical circles. And as my own thinking is evolving, it would hardly make sense to give a nice, linear, simple presentation — as my thinking isn’t that way at all.

This series actually goes back to the “Which Gospel?” series from earlier this year, which I never quite finished. There are all these great ideas and theologies being tossed around in the literature. How does a church leader decide on a strategy that won’t be disproven by the time he gets his congregation on board?

Well, the first guidepost, of course, is faithfulness to Jesus and his word. But then, none of us is going to intentionally violate the scriptures. The problem is it’s just hard to see how to apply the scriptures to today’s problems. In hindsight, we’ll likely think we know the answer — that is, what the answer was. But knowing what strategies and methods will work today is not so easy. Continue reading

Attractional vs. Missional: Equipping the Members

mcchurchWell, Nic posted some insightful words. If we were serious about equipping members to do good works, what would our classes look like? Would we be covering Acts for the 51st time? Teaching hermeneutics? Or offering classes on —

local evangelization (completion of this area of specialization by significant numbers may allow expansion of the local area covered – out in the county, next city, next county- [Jerusalem, Samaria….] led by your hired local evangelist); invalid care (diaper changing among other important duties); counseling (at least friendship counseling with enough knowledge to direct folks with needs to the proper professionals); Bible class teachers specializing in certain Biblical areas (Gospels, NT letters, OT law, OT prophets, theology etc.[Hey! might have to send them to one of our fine Christian Schools]), so they can provide the basic Bible knowledge for the general curriculum (not a this is what I think it means class); eldership training (including leadership training, interpersonal relationships, team training, etc.); internet missions (whatever that might be) …

And so, a challenge for the readers — Continue reading

Attractional vs. Missional: Bill Kinnon Says It Plainly

mcchurchBill Kinnon is another missional thought leader and practitioner. He joined the conversation in plain terms (which I greatly appreciate) speaking favorably about megachurch Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City —

If every megachurch in the world helped to plant 100s of different kinds of churches in their city, putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to church planting, only began to worry about a building after nearly 20 years (and a building that won’t even come close to seating the 5,000+ people who attend all the services at Redeemer’s multiple rented locations), encouraged the artistic expressions of the people in their midst, focused on the hurting, lost and broken, stayed in the heart of their city, and loved that city as desperately as Redeemer loves New York – then folk like me would sit in stunned silence praising God with our mouths shut. (Two dear friends of mine, will wish I had kept my fingers stilled when they read the rest of this.) 

Ah, at last, recognition that a large church can be missional, while correctly noting that most are not. Continue reading

Attractional vs. Missional: David Fitch Explains It

mcchurchDavid Fitch is a Bible professor and leader in the missional church movement. In his blog, he explains why attractional churches fail to be missional.

1. HOW DO THE STRUCTURES OF YOUR ATTRACTIONAL CHURCH SHAPE (TRAIN) YOUR PEOPLE INTO CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP AND MISSION?
I’m not talking here about initiating people into four steps, or four bases, or four whatever. Rather, missional types see that the very ways people gather shapes them into what it means to be a Christian. The way we worship, the kinds of things we look at, the habits that are enforced, the way we sit, the structure of passivity, the anonymity, the filing in and out by the thousands at a specific time, the parking lot attendants rushing you out the maze: we see all of this as training the people into being in relation to God and each other in a certain way. Therefore, to attract large amounts of people into one room, and offer a directed performance of worship from the front, trains people to be passivized, observers and consumers of Christianity. And it counteracts everything of what it means to be the church for missional thinkers and practitioners.

Oww! It’s true, isn’t it? Doesn’t the traditional church push most members toward passivity? Don’t we greatly limit who gets to be active in worship? And isn’t every church burdened with a large percentage of members who are consumers only? Don’t we all struggle even to staff the nursery? And if we can’t get enough volunteers to change the diapers, how on earth are we going to have enough volunteers to change the world? Continue reading

Attractional vs. Missional: Alan Hirsch Joins the Conversation

mcchurchAlan Hirsch is the author of The Shaping of Things to Come (a great book by the way) and an important thought-leader in the movement toward greater missionality. In a recent post at “Out of Ur,” a Christianity Today blog, he addressed Dan Kimball’s comments questioning the evangelistic effectiveness of missional churches. Hirsch writes, 

* I certainly don’t believe that attractional is not working. What I have said is that it has appeal to a shrinking segment of the population, and that persistence with a church growth style, attractionalism, is in the long run a counsel of despair. Are you suggesting that we simply stay with what we have got? Surely not bro?

Interesting, isn’t it? You see, most attractional churches do pretty well with lapsed Christians — folks who grew up in a Christian home but drifted away as adults. How well do they do with people who’ve never known Jesus? Continue reading

Attractional vs. Missional: Ephesians 4 Gives the Instructions

mcchurchI can’t close this series without getting a little bit more into the theology. You see, this is what Ephesians 4 is all about. The following is the short version (the long version may be found at this post).

(Eph 4:11-12)  It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service …

The task of church leaders, from the elders to the Bible class teachers to the ministers, is to “prepare God’s people for works of service.” Now, do we seriously think he’s talking about leading communion meditations? Leading public prayers? No, Paul has in mind doing what Jesus told us to do —

(Mat 5:16)  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Continue reading

Attractional vs. Missional: How It Might Be Done

mcchurchSo how do we actually lead a church to be both attractional and missional? It’s not altogether obvious, largely because few of us have ever experienced such a thing. But I have an idea or two.

* I’m not sure that you do one first and then the other. But the reality is that a church with a lousy worship service or lousy children’s or teen programs isn’t going to grow. In fact, it’ll die. Just as I must first nourish my body and make it healthy before I can do any work for anyone else, it makes sense to first focus on getting the basics rights: high quality worship, classes, children’s program, and teen program.

Manifestly, larger churches have an advantage here, as it’s just easier to have a great children’s or teen program when you have a large pool of kids and teens. That’s okay. We aren’t competing with each other. I’d go so far as to recommend that churches merge, when possible, to achieve critical mass — a large enough pool of members to provide for their own children and to be, well, attractive. Continue reading