sometime back i watched a 19-minute video featuring alan hirsch (it was attached to march issue of “catalyst monthly”) entitled, “post-christendom mission.” if you haven’t seen it, i encourage you to watch it here. previously i had only a passing knowledge of hirsch and his background/credentials, but this video has messed me up. i am rethinking everything i know about ministry. therefore…
in the next couple of posts i want to revisit a recurring and somewhat tired conversation. i want to talk about what hirsch alternately calls “the attractional church model” and “the extractional church model.” another favorite author of mine, reggie mcneal, calls it simply, “the church growth method.”
my working definition: an amalgamation of everything that has “worked” in the past done as well as we can possibly do them.
DISCLAIMER #1: i plan to make a few comments that may irritate some people, but it is absolutely not my intention to attack or criticize anyone. i am, however, going to point out the futility and misguidedness of some of the methods i see being employed to “grow” the church.
DISCLAIMER #2: i realize that i open myself to the all-too-familiar criticism, “you’re just angry because your church is small. you’re taking pot shots at larger churches because you’re resentful of their success.” god forbid. i say with paul, “but what does it matter? the important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, christ is preached. and because of this i rejoice” (philippians 1:8). the fact is, our local fellowship is small. we used to be much bigger than we are now, but for many years i’ve been trying to transform the thinking of the believers that i lead–to get them to think outwardly rather than inwardly. it’s hard. but i believe god placed us here for the benefit of our surrounding community, and we are doing the tedious work of planting the gospel here. for the most part, we (and i am including myself) do not know what “missional” means, but i’m pretty sure we are following god’s direction.
tim stevens and tony morgan used to be on staff together at granger community church. they co-wrote a book that i own and appreciate called, “simply strategic church growth.” both men write blogs that i read daily, and i esteem each of them as brothers with much to say to the body of christ. apparently, both men saw the above-referenced video and both commented on their blogs. the message they took from the presentation, however, was much different than the one i received.
tony morgan says, “Why does it have to be attractional or missional? I’ve seen lives impacted by both approaches. Why can’t it be attractional and missional?”
tim stevens says, “Keep doing attractional. It works for 40%. It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and. I’m interested in finding the AND!”
again, i do not mean to attack anyone personally and i am certainly in no position to question/judge the godly men i’ve mentioned by name. but i believe that “attractional” and “missional” are mutually exclusive. in fact, i (as a church leader) will have to choose one or the other. and i think that is what hirsch was trying to say (more on that tomorrow).
the attractional church model has two markers/objectives that makes it decidedly non-missional: 1.) it’s goal is to get people to come to it, and 2.) it’s ministry centers around the activities at the building on sundays. now, i realize that attractional churches do outreach, and i understand that they have highly-effective programs going on outside their weekend services. still, the point of being “attractional” is to attract people (hence the name) to our to our big, high-energy services.
but aren’t we supposed to go? to infiltrate their culture rather than try to integrate them into our culture (that’s where hirsch uses the term “extractional”). proponents of the attractional church model say it’s working. statistics say otherwise.
what say you?