Saturday, September 03, 2005

Attaction or Mission

We must be careful about pushing the dichotomy between the “attractional” and the “missional” models too far. After all, they have both always been present. Even at the height of Christendom, there was some missional activity, if just almsgiving to the poor.

Whenever the church is at its best, people will be attracted to it. If Jesus is present in the church then people will be drawn in. On the other hand, there have always been people who will not come to the church. A church that is not looking outward will eventually stagnate. On the other hand, if the church has nothing to share, there is no point in going out.

The balance will depend on our culture. When the gospel has been widely accepted, the attractional model will be more important. When we are in a minority, the missional approach becomes more appropriate, and the balance of our activity should shift that way.

The problem for the modern church is that we have not shifted the balance to reflect our declining influence in our culture. However, the reason for our emphasis on the attractional model is not that we have clung to misguided belief in Christendom, but the dominance of the pastor/leader model . If the pastor/leader overshadows the church, people need to see him. The pastor/leader cannot be everywhere, so those who need to see him, must come the church.

We are living in a culture where the influence of the gospel is declining. This situation requires a strategy that shifts the balance away from attraction towards mission.

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