This is part two of a series around the question, “Can a church be both missional and attractional?” Check out part one here.
Attractional Church = a church whose system defines evangelism as “come and see.”
It is important to note that I said the church’s “system” creates the definition of evangelism. In church world we talk a lot of crap. Stuff comes out of our mouths that we never follow-up on or live out; and this is sad.
To quote Andy Stanley, “It’s not what’s written on the wall; it’s what happening done the hall that matters.”
We can say all day long that we want our people to share Jesus with their lost friends, that they should be hanging out and building relationships with unchurched people, or that they are missionaries in their neighborhoods. We can preach the great commission and great commandments until we are blue in face; but if our programs, processes, and resources are focused on building environments designed to be attractive to people outside the church in hopes that they will come in, then we are “attractional.”
Or, more simple put, if we do stuff (whether it be a worship services or some other program) intended to draw the unchurched into our system of church then we are attractional.
Let me be crystal clear here. Attractional church didn’t form in a vacuum. No one sat down and said, “Let’s design a church system that takes the responsiblity of evangelism away from individuals and instead puts it into programs because people are lazy jerks. They are loser consumers anyway; so let’s capitalize on that.” That is not what happened.
Incredibly gifted leaders, who love God, who are passionate about Jesus and seeing people come to know Him, whose primary measurement was Sunday morning worship attendance and professions of faith built amazing systems that encouraged those stats to grow – and the attractional church movement was born.
Wendy and I found our faith in attractional churches. We were called to ministry through them; and we worked in them for our first nine years of professional ministry. There are several incredible by-products of the attractional church movement. Here are a few that we loved and now kind of miss.
1. The Worship – The attractional church movement, in an attempt to worship through music relevant to contemporary culture, has produced some incredible worship. It’s passionate. It’s diverse. It’s creative; and it’s incredibly high quality. That last one was incredibly important for Wendy because (although she would never admit it) she is a kick butt worship leader. The great attractional worship leaders we have worked with have the astounding ability to create high quality experiences and still maintain an openness to the Spirit. Inexplicable.
2. The Preaching – The attractional church movement’s intense focus on the Sunday morning experience has taken preach to a new level. Seriously, there are some amazing speakers working right now that would have never had the chance to hone their chops outside the attractional church model.
3. The Stuff for Kids – churches in the attractional church movement discovered fairly quickly that the way to keep families coming was to provide amazing kid experiences. We miss the massive amount of resources directed at our children.
4. Huge Numbers of People – There is something exciting about sitting in a room with a massive amount of people. Often I think back to my college years at Highland Baptist church. There was a worship service called Sunday Night Life that was freak’in awesome. The energy in that room week after week was unexplainable.
5. Disciplined Self-Evaluation that Leads to Improvement – The idea of bringing our best and making everything look, feel, sound, and operate perfectly was wonderful; especially for an anal, disciplined, semi-OCD leader like myself. I loved sitting in staff meetings and asking the question with a passionate team, “How can we do that better next week?” In the end this was our blessing and our curse; because we had metrics and we focused on them.
There are things about attractional churches that I loved and now miss.
Now, as we move from “Come and See” to explore this “Go and Be” theology – this missional thinking – systems that encourage this in the church are beginning to and will continue to emerge.
Will we be able to keep what we love and still become who we want to be? Can we be both/and?
to be continued…