Bear with me for a minute: A guy (or gal) has a heart/gifting for evangelism. So what does he do? Does he become an evangelist? No she becomes the Pastor of a Church and endeavors to create an organization centered around her goal of soul-winning. She turns every church gathering into an evangelistic crusade (what we should actually be doing outside the church – scattered on mission). In my estimation, the Attractional model for church fails to differentiate between the church gathered and the church scattered.
You see, in the Missional model there is always a sense of “sent-ness” (John 20:21) – bringing the good news to them, vice asking them to come and be part of us. It’s “go and tell” vice “come and see.”
In the attractional model we try to make ourselves into a group that people will want to become a part of. It’s similar to the old “seeker sensitive” model except that the seeker sensitive model was always accused of watering down the message for the sake of church growth. But in the attractional model (with an Evangelistic Pastor at the helm) once we get ’em in the door, you betcha we’re gonna hit ’em with an explicit “gospel” message. The attractional model seems to always involve the marketing of the local church: “We’re a cool, fun group of people who love and support each other, so come be part of us! And look we have a cool church logo!” – the branding of the local church. It often plays out like this: “invite your friends to church, so I can preach an evangelistic sermon and they’ll get saved!” But shouldn’t I already be talking to my friend, in a relational, conversational setting, about Jesus and how following Him has transformed my life?
I found a couple of pretty good infographics that I stole from the internet which illustrate what I’m getting at here. The first one compares the attractional church with the missional church:
The second one compares the consumer oriented church with the missional model:
While the consumer church is a different animal, I still think it is helpful here to compare it with the missional community.
So what do you think? Are these two equally valid models from which we can pick the one that works best for us (I’m a terrible poker player, so I think it’s pretty obvious which one I favor). Should we be following the missional model as more Biblical? What role does the historical precedent question from hermeneutics play in this argument? If indeed we see a more missional model in, say, the book of Acts, does that necessarily mean that God intended it as prescriptive for all the church throughout all ages, in all cultural settings? Should we give in to consumer Christianity because we live in a consumeristic dominated culture? Or should we be counter-cultural and teach our people that following Jesus is about so much more than having our own needs met? Let me know what you think in the comments below!