Some churches do a great job of attracting people to their weekend services. Some churches do a great job of extending compassion, mercy, love and justice beyond their walls. The church I serve is committed to doing both. We seek to be both missional and attractional.
Attraction happens when hospitality is extended, when worship is a lively response to what God has done, is doing and will do, and when opportunities for growth are offered across the generations.
Mission happens when the gospel is made visible to neighbors and friends with practical expressions of love, compassion, and justice. This witness is done by ordinary people and by groups that gather for fellowship and reach out with love, compassion and justice.
The gospel is both attractive and missional, and that’s why the church needs to be both missional and attractional. To only be attractional creates church consumers. To only be missional burns people out. The way to avoid those extremes is to grow disciples. The fuel that fires attraction and mission are disciples who disciple others into the ways of Jesus.
Seeking to become missional and attractional is, as Mike Breen says, simple, but not easy. Communities must be cultivated that gather for fellowship and mission. The cultivation of those communities takes time to nurture. Furthermore, a culture of discipleship must be cultivated by the multiplication of disciples who disciple others. This takes time also. In the church I serve, we talk about this being a 5-7 year transition.
In the past, a postcard in the mail or an ad in the religious section of the newspaper boosted church attendance. Those days are gone. People are increasingly skeptical and cynical toward the church. Fewer people are looking to the church for answers, support or community. I believe that the churches that will make a difference are those that will become more missional and more attentional by becoming and more intentional about growing disciples who love God, follow Jesus and love their neighbors.
That was the DNA of the movement that Jesus started. It’s time to tap that DNA again.