Posts Tagged ‘Attractional’

What’s the Difference?

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

This is a 2-minute video that attempts to provide a sense the change in perspective between our traditional view of church and missional church.

HT: Alan Hirsch

Reggie McNeal on Attractional and Missional

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

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.

Come and See

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Jesus told us to go into all the world and be his ambassadors, but many churches today have inadvertently changed the “go and be” command to a “come and see” appeal. We have grown attached to buildings, programs, staff and a wide variety of goods and services designed to attract and entertain people.

It appears that the Episcopal Church in the United States of America has a new “outreach” program that buys into this altered message. Here in Portland I’m seeing banners on many of Episcopal Church buildings that read “Come and See!”

Come and See Banner

Their general line goes something like this. In the first chapter of John’s gospel, two disciples of John the Baptist approached Jesus and ask him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus replies, “Come and see.” In that same chapter of John, when Nathanael questions Philip about Jesus and wonders “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip responds to him, “Come and see.” Therefore logically our message should also be one that invites not-yet-Christians to come and see.

The difficulty with taking these passages and applying them to our world is one of context.

Philip, Nathanael and the two disciples of John were individuals immerse in a culture highly familiar with the Old Testament, the religious practices of the day and a messianic expectation. They had a background on which to base an appeal. Not so in our pre/post-Christian context. Few people have any knowledge of or language with which to understand what following Jesus might mean and therefore are not likely be attracted to any Christian community or program. This has been borne out by studies done by Gregory A. Pritchard of seeker services (the definitive attractional “Come and See” program).

But in our post-Christian context, moving into the neighborhood and living an incarnational life is the command of Jesus. It is through a “go and be” life that we will have an opportunity to see where God is working, join him, communicate the gospel and ultimately be his instrument of invitation to “Come, let me introduce you to Jesus.”

Signs of Missional

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

The term missional seems to have become the new buzz word among many faith communities. These are the same congregations that once proclaimed themselves as a cell church, seeker-sensitive, hip-hop, purpose-driven or even emerging. But how can one know a real missional community from those that simply uses the term to give credibility and weight to the same old programmatic attractional approach. There are many specifics you might look at, but let me just suggest two that are pretty easy to get a handle on.

First, where is the money being spent. In a missional community, you will see substantial dollars being used to touch and impact their immediate community. The missional congregation will find ways to use its financial resources to empower its people to move out into the neighborhood and become involved with the mission of God.

In the programmatic attractional faith community, you will find that almost all dollars go towards providing “ministries” and programs geared to meeting the desires of the membership. This includes buildings, youth, women, children and other “ministries,” bible study, worship experiences and the paid staff to oversees them. Some might say that the budget is used to develop, deliver and maintain the “goods and services” necessary to satisfy and keep the members happy.

Want to know if you are really part of a missional church? Check out how your church budgets its money.

Second, where are the people investing the limit volunteer hours they have each week? In a missional community, you should see a good portion of those hours being invested in neighbors and community. Jesus followers will be out helping meet the needs of the neighborhood, joining with existing community based groups to address the issues of poverty and justice, and will be involved with the spiritual work God is about in the lives they come into contact with. Their faith community will be structured in such a way that not only allows for such an investment of time, but encourages it and provides ways to facilitate participation. They have a 24/7/365 ministry focus.

The opposite will be true of the programmatic attractional faith community where members are enlisted to staff programs and ministries that support and maintain the institution. They primarily have a Sunday focus. Those members who do become involved in the missional way are often considered as not being committed because they don’t become involved in the various internal church programs.

Want to know if you are really part of a missional church? Check out how your church uses its members. Does it use them to support the institution and its programs, or does it actively encourage Jesus followers to be involved in their communities even if that means church based programs suffer?

Is Missional a Church Growth Model?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

There is an interesting discussion going on over at Inner Revolution. Geoff posted on the topic of missional vs attractional church model which was the result of reading a post by Bob Hyatt. Geoff’s post is titled, “I’d like Attractional With a Side of Missional and Just a Dash of Organic, Please” and I posted the following comment.


Thanks for this post. You are expressing the feelings of many who are attempting to get a grip on this whole attractional, missional, organic thing. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough time or space to fully explore topic here, but maybe just a few thoughts from my perspective.

You rightly note when laying out the definitions that “attractional” is a model and “missional” is a mindset. The distinction is the heart of the matter.

Usually when leaders talk about being attractional, the discussion centers on how they do “church” on Sunday morning. Are we attractive and appealing? I’m not suggesting that they aren’t also deeply concerned with helping their people grow spiritually, but the attractional model is about being attractive to the seeker. I’m also not saying this is wrong nor I’m I throwing rocks. As you noted, every faith community should want and work at being attractive and comfortable to the not-yet-Christian. But at its heart, attractional is a model for doing church which the leadership attempt to implement.

Missional on the other hand is a mindset. A mindset of both the people and the leadership. It has nothing to do with method or model. It has to do with the very nature of who we are a followers of Jesus. Are we merely devotees, who, as a mark of our faith, attend church weekly and often invite our friends and neighbors to join us, or are we disciples of Jesus whose life is consumed 24/7/365 with, as Alan Hirsch stated it, “the practical outworking of the mission of God (the missio dei) and of the incarnation”?

As Bob stated, I too am “I’m highly skeptical of the marriage of Christianity and American marketing techniques and consumerism.” I believe it produces a Jesus follower who is primarily a devotee who spends most of their time and energies on pursuing the same “American Dream” as their not-yet-Christians neighbors. Again, not throwing rocks, just expressing a concern.

Finally, you stated that “for me the ultimate church is an attractional, missional body of believers growing organically through every means possible.” I remember the time well when I would have said a big “Amen” to that. But I don’t believe “growth” should be our objective. Loving the Lord our God, our neighbors, and making disciples of all people is at the heart of missional.

Thank you Geoff (and Bob) for a thoughtful and gracious dialog.

It seems to me that much of the difficulty in this type of conversation is having a real understanding of what missional is and is not. American’s are so practical that we tend to reduce everything to a model, program, steps, or system. We are masters of the “how to” genre. We often work under the assumption that if I can get a person to work the right program or follow the right steps, they will change or become what we want them to be. But you can’t do this with missional. It is not a church growth model.

Because I have a chapter in an upcoming eBook to complete on the subject, “What is Missional,” I’ve been spending a lot of time on this whole topic lately. I’d love to get your thoughts and input.