To Attract or to Seek Out? That is the question. Are we “attractional” or “missional?”
This is the question that churches are debating hot and heavy these days. The seminary question is phrased like this. Should the church be “attractional” or should the church be “missional?” Two phrases of the Easter story stood out to me this year: “Come and See” and Go and Tell”
Of course we should attract! “Come and See!”
Up until the last ten years, churches pretty much chose this as their only option. You went to a city, opened a church, and invited people. Our culture was oriented towards going to church so if you had better preaching, better music, better donuts, and better coffee, you could build a crowd.
This thinking has fallen on hard times. First, its just not in vogue these days to call one’s church attractional. It sounds so 1970’s. Fuller seminary, where I received my doctorate, took a heavy turn toward the “missional model” which suggests the church is “sent” to the world not vise versa.
Before throwing out the “attractional” mode, however, we should remember that the cross itself is attractional. Jesus said that if he was lifted up on the cross that he would draw all men to him. Andy Stanley’s book Deep and Wide makes a case for developing churches that unchurched people are attracted to. Being attractional, however is not enough.
Of course the church should go to the people! “Go and Tell!”
In case you haven’t noticed, the religious landscape of America is changing quickly. People are no longer surfing through the church ads to see who is doing the coolest sermon series. We aren’t in Kansas anymore. If the church is content to only put out a neon sign and welcome banner, we will quickly go the way of the dinosaur.
Serving our communities is one of the most exciting trends happening in the church today. We are becoming more missional which is not only essential to our future, but its deeply rooted in the gospel which calls us to go, show, and tell.
Let’s end the debate and just do it!
Enough books have been written trashing the “attractional” way of doing church. Enough venom has been unleashed towards these crazy “missional” people who are having meetings in coffee shops and clubs and calling it church. Don’t we need both? We need both a good defense and a good offense. Let’s build great churches that attract lost people and lets “be” the church in every area of our cities where the kingdom of God is not.
Life Church is seeking to be both missional and attractional. Ask me in a couple of years and I’ll tell you how its going.
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Life Church Knoxville
We're an inter denominational church in Knoxville, Tennessee that believes that all people matter and should experience the love and power that comes along with a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.