Reggie McNeal on Attractional and Missional

Reggie McNeal looks the attractional model and how it differs from the missional paradigm.

I’ve have been tweeting other quotes via twitter.

The attractional model of church creates a ‘member culture,’ in which people join a particular church and support that organization with their attendance, their money, their prayers, and their talent. The flow is toward the church, which is always at the center of the action, where the big game is being played.

The missional church is made up of missionaries, who are playing the big game every day. They live their lives with the idea that they are on a mission trip. On mission trips, people focus on the work of God around them, alert to the Spirit’s prompting, usually serving people in very tangible ways, often in way that involve some sacrifice or even discomfort. Life on mission is more intentional and more integrated. While the concerns of life (family, work, leisure) are pursued, they are part of a larger story being played out for the missionary.

The member culture views society as a series of silos: politics, business, education, arts, media, technology, health care, social sector, and so forth. All of them are separate. The church culture has developed its own silo — a parallel culture in many respects — complete with schools, businesses, educational institutions, health care facilities, sports clubs, travel associations, and social agencies. Positioned as one silo among others, the church works to recruit people and resources from the other domains, vying for attention and money…. Its activities serve effectively to take a lamp and put it under a bushel.

The missional church views the church’s position in society very differently. It understands that God has his people — his missionaries — deployed across all domains of culture. After all, since the mission is redemptive and the world is God’s target, doesn’t it make sense that he would take this approach? Otherwise, how would salt be distributed or light puncture the darkness?

Quotes from Reggie McNeal’s “Missional Renaissance” (Jossey-Bass, February 2009), page 54 & 55.

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4 Responses to “Reggie McNeal on Attractional and Missional”

  1. Charles A. Bennett says:

    Right on! I have the gift of skepticism. I’ve been studying for nearly 40 years. I’ve finally concluded this: Peter was no doubt the first church’s first leader (John 21:15-19+Acts 2:14-47). We see his thinking about the church in I Peter 2:4-12. The first church focused on teaching, fellowship, and prayer (Acts 2:42). That’s fellowship with Christ (the Lord’s Supper) and fellowship with each other. Christian love (seeking the best for others) drove Acts 2:43-46. Paul fleshes that out in Romans 12:1-15:33. The academic goal is to create a priesthood of believers, ambassadors (II Corinthians 5:16-21) and fragrance (II Corinthians 2:14-16). Believers are positioned in Christ (salvation), people in process (growing in the Lord), and people with purpose (priests, doing God’s work [carrying the gospel] and living stones, using their talents in the church. There (whew!) Forty years of study. You guys are right on but how do you get established but struggling churches to see the light? Talking to the leaders in my church is like talking to a stone wall. They’re great folks individually, dedicated believers, but stick them in a group and, well, no comment. I have a burden for struggling churches, Christian education, and folks who have rejected Christ because they’ve been screwed over by the church. I’ll have a website up soon. How can help?

  2. Rick Meigs says:

    Charles, best way to get involved is to start blogging you thoughts and also to participate in the dialog by commenting on other blogs like you have here. Also might want to check out

  3. I live in Barbados in the Caribbean; quite a way from most of you I am sure. When God spoke to my husband and I in 2006, about removing ourselves from a Church with a fairly traditional structure, w really did not know what we were letting ourselves in for. I had never at the time initially heard about a missional movement but God was already awakening our hearts to the fact that something was inherently wrong with how churches had become structured in Christendom; the consumerist mode of church and its inward focus began to feel so wrong and I knew that God wanted us to look at a more organic way of living church minus the trappings and hoopla of the ‘show” which many church experiences have become. I stumbled on to leadership network eventually and began to read about externally focused ministries and about the missional renaissance. God is quite capable of awakening people’s hearts all over the globe to a similar truth when He wants us to re-direct our focus for His kingdom’s sake.This is what I believe the missional movement is in essence. God’s attempts to re-direct our focus towards our purpose as His church. While we love language and use it to define what we do, let us not get so tied up with nuances of words that we spend more time talking about what missional is than actually living out God’s mission 24 7. God began to speak to our hearts long before we connected with the word missional and I’m sure He’s doing this with several others who call themselves Christians all over the globe. Let’s just trust Him and work with Him as He finishes the process. While I understand the need to distinguish between being missional and being attractional; the two terms are not mutually exclusive. As we practice a missional lifestyle in serving our communities people will be drawn to Christ even though we do not serve in order to “trap” them or “grab” them for our churches. The missional mindset is one that sees the kingdom above the “local church” as we live out the gospel among the people we interface with daily. The aim is not so much to grow the church and get a large building as it is to serve and represent Christ to those who do not know Him. My only concern is that we do not become so focused on positive relationship building that we skirt around the issues of sin. If we are to take not of the way Jesus interfaced wth those with whom He came into contact, we would notice that He loved unconditionally as He connected with others but He also told them “go and sin no more”; this is the message of the kingdom that we must never forget. The social-emotional aspects of serving and empowering our communities must not take precedence over helping indiividuals turn their lives away from sin. What living the gospel among people or living incarnationally does, is add greater validity to what we speak; but it should not replace the “hearing of the word” even though I do admit that hearing in itself is multi-faceted.

  4. If anyone is interested in continuing this conversation with me check out my blog at: