Comparing Attractional and Missional

Matt Stone has done a great post on Attractional vs Missional Services. It is a great post, so be sure you go over and read it.

To make his point, Matt used this illustration:

Think about it. In an attractional model, what it the primary door to the community of believers and faith? Answer: The Sunday morning service. But in a missional context, the primary door is engagement with the faith community (individually and collectively) away from the Sunday gathering. This engagement with non-yet-Christians leads to involvement with the community which leads to belonging which leads to faith (believing). You might diagram it something like this:

Engagement —>> Involvement —>> Belonging —>> Belief

Or you could illustrate the way I have here:

Brad: This is a good start on answering your question, me thinks.

19 Responses to “Comparing Attractional and Missional”

  1. Core values?…

    Rick Meigs and Matt Stone have recently posted comparing attractional and missional models of church. They’re both really good posts and well worth a look. And their doodles are great…

  2. Matt Maestas says:


    The illustrations that you and Matt Stone provide are helpful ways of visualizing the differences between these two models of church life. I believe as you, that a missional church is much more holistic, embodying the entire life of a community, yet as a child of the attractional monster, and one who is beginning to plant a church, I struggle with what a missional church “looks like”. Can you give a short list of practical ways a church can be missional from the beginning.



  3. […] my previous post, Matt asked this great question and one where I have only a little insight, so I’m hoping […]

  4. Andrew says:

    I love the theory in this model – it just sounds so “right”, but I am afraid that I am now starting to have serious doubts about it in practice.

    We have taken this approach for a number of years now (maybe 3) and while we have a nice shell of “fringe dwellers” who are great friends and socially involved with us on many different levels, things just aren’t progressing beyond this.

    Our friends do want to belong – to our social group – they want to be cared for and have people they can turn to for counsel when they need it – but they just don’t seem to want to have a bar of Jesus.

    Sometimes I wonder if we just aren’t pushy enough. Is anyone else having similar experiences?

  5. Rick Meigs says:

    Andrew: Another great insight!

    Belief, which is the center circle in my missional illustration, doesn’t happen as a result of not-yet-Christians simply belonging and participating in the life of our faith community. Instead, it is through this belonging and participation (this interaction with real Christians who demonstrate a life of compassion, love and resurrection life filled with hope) that we earn the right to present the claims of Jesus and that give credence to our well reasoned point of view regarding Jesus and the Kingdom. Those who are involved in your faith community must be exposed to Jesus and his teachings. I would not do this in an “in your face” way, but I certainly would make it plain.

    It is easy for us, in our overreact to the typical evangelical “in your face” gospel presentation so many of us grew up on, to forget a very simple true, “But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?” (Romans 10:14, The Message)

  6. Andrew says:

    Thanks again!

  7. Eddy E says:

    Excellent diagrams. I see this in some of the writings of McLaren and in Rick Richardson’s Reimagining Evangelism.

    My secret desire: get rid of attractional church. I can’t imagine that’s what Jesus intended for the church, nor what Paul intended for the churches he planted, nor what the early christians envisioned. Missional is not a new trend–it’s recovering ancient spirituality.

  8. Bob Robinson says:

    I like that second diagram a lot (I assume you drew it?).
    I like the interaction arrow for the missional church being between “community life” and “cultural engagement”.

    The attractional model seeks to engage the people of the culture through the worship service (thus a “seeker-sensitive worship service”). If it fails to attract people to that Sunday morning service, the engagement does not happen.

    The missional model seeks to engage the people of the culture as we live beyond that Sunday service in incarnational ways – working for the justice and shalom of the culture.

  9. Rick Meigs says:

    Eddy: I agree that missional is nothing new and that it really is a reclaiming of Biblical living. Thanks for commenting on this.

  10. Rick Meigs says:

    Bob: Exactly! You have captured exactly the point of my diagram (the second one). After two years of focus on this issue and a life of living it, I think I’m finally getting what missional means.

  11. brad grinnen says:


    i will need to digest this in relation to the questions i asked earlier…however, you are right…this is a great start. allow me some time to process and respond:)



    ps. how’s the road work?

  12. brad grinnen says:

    lately i’ve been thinking… if we lived out our mission there will be an attraction to it. it will be attractive to others. those who find deep restoration attractive. those who see creation reclamation attractive. those who find boldness, courage, and sacrifice attractive. we don’t live incarnationally so that others might be attracted to us…but for the sake of loving with God. however, it will be attractive.

    maybe this is the attraction aspect of Jesus that we read and see in the gospels?


  13. […] etc), the potential for engaging men in true friendship grows significantly. Instead of the “attractional” approach (i.e. men’s rallies, prayer breakfasts, and “accountability […]

  14. If You Build It, They Won’t Come…

    Most churches follow the “Field of Dreams” model of ministry: if we build it, they will come. If we have the right program, the right environment, the right attraction, then people will show up. This comprises the attractional model of m…

  15. P.C.Mathew says:

    I see the need to be both missional and attractional. Jesus’ invitation to the disciples “come..followme” was attractional and then was the commisioning to “Go and make disciples”. SO we need both in our churches. Its not one against the other but its both in a good balance.

  16. Rick Meigs says:

    PC, thanks for stopping in and commenting. Always welcome and encouraged.

    I have to disagree with you. Jesus invitation to “come, follow me” was not attractional in the sense of the word today. Attractional is about Sunday, it is about only a faith communities only invitation to the community being a “come and see what we are about” and all the cool “goods and services” we offer. That is not what Jesus was about. He was out in the neighborhoods, joining in what God was doing, and, yes, giving an invitation to follow him.

  17. […] (See Comparing Missional vs. Attractional at Blind Beggar) […]

  18. […] missio dei. They developed their strategies by reverse-engineering what didn’t work with the attractional model of church (and didn’t do much in the way of studying the global missions movement). Much of this shift […]