in my last post, i made a statement that may be perceived as provocative by some people. i said, “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 promised to elaborate in my next post.
this is my next post.
i have been mightily challenged by alan hirsch’s video on “post-christendom mission.” this has been one of those times (and we all have them) where i said, “this guy is putting words to the indescribable feelings i’ve been having!” it was a real epiphany and it has shaken everything i believe about ministry.
let me provide a little background/context…
we are fifteen years into a church plant in moore (a bedroom community of oklahoma city). a former youth pastor, i just did what i had seen…except hipper. i had no idea at the time, but i was doing what hirsch describes as “the contemporary church-growth model.” everything was fine until i started having unchurched young people meet jesus. passionate and idealistic, they soon started asking questions about our methods (which they described as “institutional”). they couldn’t see how we could hope to relate to the culture they had come out of. their questions resonated with me, and i began to ask god to give us new direction. i began to see that we (the church) were out of touch with the community around us. there was a vast chasm between church culture and “real culture” that was growing wider every day. i began to pursue, and to lead my people in, what hirsch calls a “missional” expression of ministry.
that’s why i celebrate this message. it’s like i discovered the solution to this puzzle i’ve been trying to solve for so long. let me share a couple of quotes from dr. alan hirsch:
the attractional church is one that relies on others to come to it in order to hear the gospel. it does work, but only when people are within it’s cultural orbit.
if we are succesful (in the attractional/extractional model), we socialize them out of their context into our culture. they have to do the cross-cultural work to come to us. in a missionary environment, we do the cross-cultural work to go to them. we go to them and learn their language and share the gospel within their culture.
statistics say that the church is becoming less and less relevant in our society. i feel like the missional model has given me a direction for being genuinely effective in my local context today, and in the days to come. i am revitalized.