Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Attractional not enough

I am so interested in what the church looks like in a "Post Modern, Post-Christian" culture.

Have we been sluggish in our impact in Europe because we are still trying to do church in an attractional way [designed by "moderns, boomers"]?

But those days are long gone on Europe and many parts of the USA. The assumption that people will come to our cool hip shows, has proven to be without result. Hillsong has got it right because they plant in expat communities with massive brand recognition.

For the many plants wrestling with the raw challenge of the gospel in Europe and the city shadowlands of the USA, the way they have been taught is simply not contextually clear nor culturally sensitive.

I suspect the answer lies with "Missional Communities"... not just missional. Nor just communities. But both together and that is very different form the way we have done it before.


  1. Hi Chris
    Interesting debate you're trying to generate!

    Do you think that the dichotomous debates are helpful? Seeker v Sender; Missional v Attractional - do they not begin to only herd us into our preference or bias? No matter how we debate the issues, the stark truth is that the Church in western cultures is not making any impact. There is a lot of seeming growth, or pockets of growth, but there is an overall decline. Could it be that we spend so much energy in trying to be our preferential "model" that we miss actually what should be done? Could we be making too much of the debate itself?

    Might I suggest that the constant debate is because the modern Western Church has become far too insecure with itself? Any community, society, culture or nation that has deep-rooted insecurity is always after a new "model". The modern Western Church is no different. We have become far too insecure, and hence the constant desire to identify, codify and tribalise.

    It may be worth considering this in light of how the Church interacts with the "cultural-consciousness" of society. In the early Church they used the culture - first the Jewish culture (use of synagogues, connections, family, etc), and then the Roman (infrastructure, cities, government access, etc) - but they never desired to be led by or to be dominated by it. They moved with the culture without mimicking it. Only a society/community secure in itself can do that. The same thing has happened in countries over time that have showed net Church growth (China, Korea, et al): growth happened where the Church was secure with itself, and where it moved with the culture without copying it.

    Over the centuries in the West (and in Western-influenced nations) the biggest societal change has been urbanisation. As that reaches a critical mass, it begins to deteriorate into tribalism. The Church by-and-large has been led by that movement, instead of using it. Hence the growth of mega-churches (urbanisation), and now the angst-ridden tribal "missionals". How do we use the culture-consciousness without being led by it?

    The fastest growing churches in the UK (not necessarily the largest) over the last decade are the Black African churches and the Eastern Orthodox churches. They are neither seeker nor sender, but have tapped into a culture-consciousness - in their case, immigration. Their greatest strength is their security in who they are. They have used the direction of the culture, instead of being led by it .

    Love to see how this debate unfolds for you!

  2. colin, I think u missed the point. The post is suggesting we can't be one dimensional (attractional), but to be truly effective we need to also have a strong missional community dimension. It is both "come & see" and "go and do" one without the other will fall short in both reaching the lost and making disciples.

  3. Hi Jesse/Hayley (?)
    Thanks for the comment.
    No, I get Chris's point entirely. My point, if indeed it was one rather than just some thoughts, was that, and working here in Europe myself, perhaps there is another paradigm we need to explore to be effective in our culture. Perhaps (a) or (b) or (a+b) is a bit of us trying to work out which direction to take based on our desperate desire for answers in a cultural context that shifted a long time ago?
    I find it challenging as to how to use what the culture 'is', rather than what we think we might do to meet it.

    We read Jesus' words as "Go, and make disciples", when it is more accurate to translate it as "Having gone, make disciples". Jesus didn't expect us to work from a static base.

    I am challenged, along with many, as to how we become more effective in our "having gone". Maybe some of the things Chris is raising will help us all to honestly seek the answers, but also to gain a surety of what we are meant to be. As he often says, just thinking...