I’ve been writing lately about what I see as the problem with the liberal/mainline/progressive church. I’ve talked about Liberal Vs. Progressive, why we’re not growing, and said that I think Mark Driscoll is right. Then I shifted a bit and raised the question “Why Christianity?” and offered my reasons as to “Why I Am A Christian.”. My next question was about a “Salvation Moment” and my answer. Then I asked What does a Christian Look Like? and gave my answer. I asked about Discipleship and Accountability and then gave my answer. Then I asked Why do we have church? And who should the church be for?And gave my answer. Then we got into the church nitty gritty and I gave my answer of Tradition Vs. Ritual. I want to continue in that vein of raising a question and then offering my answer on a variety of different topics. I’m not trying to provide definitive answers, but rather to raise what I see as the provocative and/or essential questions that the church needs to be able to have answer for (even if that answer is to say that this isn’t an idea we need).
I follow a lot of churchy folks on twitter, read a lot of church books, and try to keep up on the current trends and “buzzwords”. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about “missional” church as opposed to “attractional” churches. Words that anyone outside of the church world would think are made up. At it most basic (in my understanding), “attractional” means worship that attracts people to come into your church building for worship while “missional” means your church people go out into the community to be a witness.
This brings us back to something we started hinting at a couple weeks ago. Who is the church for? And what is worship about?
Those who pull for attractional churches say that our worship should be comfortable for people: they shouldn’t have to feel like they are walking into a foreign land when they enter into worship. Our worship should be accessible and meaningful to people who are outside of the church (or who have been hurt by the church).
Those who pull for missional churches say that we should be salt and light out in the world: we should be going to where the people are, that “church” should be a lifestyle.
Should we be trying to get people to come to our worship services? How “seeker sensitive” (to use an old church growth buzzword) should our services be? Who is the worship service for?
Should we put less emphasis on our worship services and instead focus on outreach to the community? Maybe work more on social justice and less on Sunday (or whenever you worship)?
Should we use words like “missional” and “attractional” if no one outside of churchy folk know what they even mean? Does this kind of language lead to some kind of insider culture?
Is “missional” simply a post-evangelical evangelism bait and switch? Is it still a quest to just “win souls” or does it point to an actual shift in thought?
What do you think?