There is a debate raging in the church planting community; Attractional or Missional? Both sides are firmly convinced, and go at each other like the British and Americans alternatively championing tea and coffee.
In mentoring church planters, I’m often asked which approach I favor. Before I answer that question, allow some brief summaries for those not familiar with the terminology.
The generation who had their heyday in the 80s and 90s favored the attractional model. The plan was simple; rent an industrial building, renovate the sanctuary, plan a bunch of programs, hire a dynamic youth pastor, cater to families and watch the people pile in. Place the emphasis of church upon meeting needs, running programs, and excellent teaching, and the church becomes a “one-stop shop” for everything people need to enhance their spiritual life. In short, the Field of Dreams methodology applies, “If you build it, they will come”.
The emphasis in the attractional model is evangelism. Bringing crowds into a theater setting allows larger masses to hear the gospel all at once. The church is largely built upon the personality and preaching of a single individual, or a worship band with drawing power. Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church sought to deal with the weaknesses inherent in the system, and integrate church consumers into serving participants.
The younger generation wrinkles their noses at all things attractional, and many see the megachurch as the embodiment of all that’s wrong with church. It’s not just hipsters either. After many years of ministry, middle-aged Pastors are increasingly favoring small, tight-knit groups and going on mission together. They meet in homes and “do life together”, i.e. – preparing and eating meals together, wives fellowship while shopping for groceries. There is often facilitated discussions, and all believers are able to use their gifts. In short, “quality not quantity” is the measure of success.
The emphasis in missional models is discipleship and mission. Allowing people to participate in a meeting allows them to share their struggles and use their gifts, consequently fostering deep spiritual growth through allowing them to minister. The weakness inherent in the system is that many have settled for “home groups” and called them missional communities. A missional church, however, is more about transforming every believer’s understanding that they are a missionary, rather than hosting house groups. For example, a missional community may target the local school, send their kids to that school, serve the school on the PTA, partner with it, and form relationships with teachers, staff, and families. The result is that the community is infiltrated.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.