Archive for the tag “Acts church”

Attractional? Missional? Hmmmm….yes

Attractional or Missional?


Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The one thing that keeps me up at night…well, ok, there is more than one thing, but the major thing that keeps me up at night is the challenge of the church to blend attractional and missional communities together.

Every single pastor I have ever met has fallen into one of two camps, missional or attractional.

I, myself, call myself a missional leader. The church I attend is an attractional church.

Neither one is wrong. Neither one, alone, is right. Both need to be part of the program for a Biblically-based church to exist.

There are a LOT of people out there who hate the mega-church movement. Once a church gets above 400, people start complaining that it is getting too big or growing too much. And there are valid concerns over many mega-churches out there. Everything from scam artists trying to get rich from the pulpit to simply bad theology fills the airwaves every Sunday morning. Many of those churches boast tens of thousands of attenders, all who give significantly to the “ministry.”

But those aren’t the churches I am talking about.

When I think of attractional churches, I think of Thomas Road in Lynchburg, VA or Hillsong Church around the world. These are churches that believe there needs to be something to attract people to them. It could be the music or the preaching or kid’s ministry or even the ice cream socials and hot dogs after service.

Then there are the missional churches. Those are the ones that believe that it doesn’t matter whether you have 35 or 3500, we are to make God’s mission our mission and we strive to create disciples no matter what. Typically, missional churches get stuck at small numbers. I have rarely seen a missional church very large, usually under 400. But these are the churches that are in the communities and are known for doing things that improve the communities that they are in.

The two churches seem like they are worlds apart in how they do church. And, in some ways, they are. The attractional church focuses on Sunday, the one day of the week where everything must come together to give God all the glory and hopefully see people make a decision for Christ. The missional church focuses on the other 6 days of the week, many times neglecting Sunday along the way, to make sure that life is being done with everyone in the church and community.

Acts 2:41 – So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added.

But if we look at Scripture, we find that the first century church was both missional and attractional.

I am clearly more missional than attractional in mentality, but that wasn’t always the case. There were days that I would gauge the success of our church by the people who filled the pews. And there still are days that I do that, depending on what we are doing as a church.

Atrractional churches, many claim, are not biblical. But that is clearly not the case. Why wouldn’t Jesus care about basic numbers? There is an entire book of the Bible dedicated to numbers (called Numbers). And in Luke 15, Jesus is so in touch with all of his people that He knows when even one is missing.

Since the days of the Old Testament, God has been in the business of attracting people to Him. Exodus 19:5-6 talks about the city on a hill that the Gentiles would come toward. Isaiah 2:2 describes that Gentiles would be attracted to God’s Jerusalem to worship when they saw God’s glory coming from His people.

1 Kings 10:9 – Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.”

1 Kings 10:5-9 is probably the best example of this with Queen Sheba becoming overwhelmed and praising God after traveling miles just because she was attracted to the holy place to worship. Even the Jewish temple was constructed for all nations. In Isaiah 56:7 tells us that the temple was constructed as a “house of prayer for all nations.”

Even in the New Testament, where we like to think that everything is about “go and tell,” we still see a lot of “come and see.” Jesus again speaks about the city on a hill that does good works that is seen by all. And in 1 Peter, the author quotes Exodus and talks about us living in such a way that others would COME to us and ask a reason for our faith. In 1 Corinthians 14:25 Paul explains that unbelievers will come and have their hearts laid bare and they will fall down and worship God.

Even the creator of the missional movement, Leslie Newbigin, said that the book of Acts is basically a bunch of people gathering to ask believers, “Can you explain Christianity?” and then someone answering that question for them. That is attractional. People come, see, stay, ask, and learn.

Every time we see Jesus He was attracting large crowds of people to Him. He did this because of how He and His disciples lived out their lives in the community. Acts 2:42-47 says that the unbelievers were amazed even at how they spoke. It wasn’t only the lifestyle they lived, but the way they worshiped.

Missional churches view the Gospel as “go and tell.” The building is simply there to provide a common place for believers to come and get recharged before heading back out into the world to go on mission.

In the Old Testament, where the Jewish people were to be set apart so that others would come and see the glory of God through them, we see a lot of examples where the Old Testament people go on mission. Obadiah and Nahum are books written about living life on mission. And even Jonah, who fell into adversity for trying to hide and lie to God after God commanded him to go on mission.

When the Jews were sent into exile, prophets such as Daniel and Jeremiah were used to help the Israelites understand that they were to testify to God’s grace as they were in exile. Daniel even uses his role in the government of Babylon to help the king understand the God alone can save.

Peter explains the idea of exile even more in the New Testament and describes it as the primary identity of the church today. Even though Peter talks about the attraction of Jesus and the church, he also goes on to say that we are to give an answer to EVERYONE about the reasons for the hope we have.

And, of course, there is no greater missional verse than that of the Great Commission. We are to GO and MAKE disciples of all the nations.

Acts 2:17 – “‘In the last days, God says,  I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

Acts 2:17 tells us that the Spirit of God was poured out on all and that even our sons and daughters would prophesy. Imagine being a Jew hearing that! Prophecy was relegated to a few select people in Old Testament times. But now to hear that this was available to ALL?!? That was a rock-your-world moment!

In the New Testament, we see that the ministry moves away from a few leaders who are specialized in certain ways to the average Joe. Ordinary people are tasked with carrying out the mission of the church, not only the leaders. Of the 40 miracles that happen in the Book of Acts, 39 of them take place OUTSIDE the church. This tells me that the main place God wants people to see His glory is outside the church.

When you ask the average Christian when they felt closest to God, they will probably describe a moment in the worship music that they were driven to tears or that one sermon where they felt convicted. While those are great moments for sure, the fact remains that most of what God wants to do is going to be done outside the church by ordinary people, not inside the church by specialized leaders.

The one place you didn’t see the apostles a lot in the Book of Acts was in the church. Just like Jesus, the apostles took the message outside the “4 walls” to the everyday people.

And this is our calling. To know Jesus is to be sent by Jesus.

The Church has Left the Building

Acts 1:8 –  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

A few days ago, I was driving in MD when I saw this van.



I got so excited.  I looked at my son and said, “take a picture.”  When God eventually allows me to plant a church, THAT is what I want the church to be about!

How many churches are focused on making bigger or better interiors which are more comfortable for people to come to while the world is still a cold, uncomfortable place for the Christian?  It is our job as the leadership in a church to equip our members to go out and bring more people “in.”  I put quotes around the word “in” because while we want these new converts to come to our church, we should just want them to go to any Bible-believing church.  It isn’t about our numbers.  It is about heaven’s numbers.

Acts 2:47 – Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

It is no secret that a church needs to make its numbers.  It needs to bring in tithes in order to support the paid members of the staff.  This is precisely why it is imperative for Christians to support your local church.  God expects us to give our 10% to the local church.  The expectation of God is to support our local ministry.  It is up to the local ministry to manage that tithe to support the local community.

In return the local ministry provides much more than a weekly pep talk on Sundays.  Your tithe goes to missions work.  That missions work can be international or local.  For example, my church supports ministries in India, Dubai, Peru, Brazil, Honduras, and many other countries.  Beyond that, we support local organizations such as a local elementary school, a food pantry, and multiple outreach missions.

Your tithe goes to support those organizations.

Malachi 3:10 – Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

But then your tithe goes to supporting discipleship training.  When I tell someone on the street that I am a disciple, they get this look on their face that makes me think I have a snot ball hanging from my nose.  Discipleship training is simply teaching someone how to live a life like Jesus.  Yes, we will never be perfect at it.  But there is no arguing that Jesus led a life that no one can claim was corrupted.  If we strive to live like Him, then we will find that we, too, will live a life that is moral.

Your tithe also goes to supporting programs that will improve the church so that the next generation can be served.  My parents loved the church I grew up in.  They would take me and go every week.  I thought it was THE most boring place on earth.  They didn’t allow the kind of music I liked (of course, I don’t know of too many churches that play “Rock All Night” by KISS).  I thought the pastor was focused only on the old people with the style of preaching he did.

Our churches are no different.  Our kids want to go to a kids program that is relevant.  Don’t roll out a kids program unless it is age specific.  First graders should not be combined with fifth graders.  Yes, they are both elementary students, but both learn very differently.  Our middle schoolers and high schoolers should begin having their own Bible studies.  But those studies should be targeted to what THEY are going through.  Sending an 8th grader to a book study on Song of Solomon is not quite what an 8th grader needs.  Perhaps something more on an 8th grader’s life, such as peer pressure, lying to your parents, or working hard need to be the focus of the study.  Young adults need a different way to learn as well.  Those young professionals enjoy going out in large groups, maybe to a sporting event.  Their discipleship needs to happen while life is being experienced.  It is how they learn.  Crusty, old guys like me enjoy one on one discipleship.  We like to remember our past and share it with others.  Us old folk like to relive our past, while the young adults like to experience the future.

So your tithe goes to supporting various programs to multiple different demo- and psycho-graphics.

Other than 7-11, how many companies that we spend much more than 10% of our income on are targeting every type of person out there?  Shouldn’t we be supporting a church that is working to not just give Jesus to people (that itself is enough to want to support a church) but also striving to improve the lives of every person who sets foot in the building.

To do that, the church needs to have the equipment necessary to reach every person.  To do that, the church needs to be able to seat all the people, create opportunities of fellowship for the people, and create some amenities for enjoyment for the attenders.

It is difficult to support ancillary programs in a church.  The programs may seem like luxuries.  But without some of those items that we may consider luxuries, the next generation will be stuck in a building that will become a burden for them to visit.  The next generation will have no desire to go outside the building and bring others into the building.  The church will die.

Ephesians 4:11-12 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

If you truly want your church to leave the building, then you need to get it ready to equip them before they leave and make it a place that they want others to come.

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