Yesterday in a staff meeting we discussed a testimony-driven church vs. a market-driven church. The language sounded a lot like missional vs. church-growth paradigm. These were some of the comparisons we made:
|People attend meetings||People join a movement|
|Come (attractional)||Go (incarnational)|
Now, these are broad generalizations that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. So, for example, in a missional church, people will still attend meetings (a church un-gathered is not a church). But the question is one of foundations. Is getting people to attend a meeting the ultimate goal of our church? Or are our meetings expressions of a movement that we want people to join? Do our meetings dictate our mission, or does our mission give expression to our meetings?
The direction you go at things makes a huge difference. What question of What is ultimate? is the big question because it determines what the foundations are. But it doesn’t necessarily mean these are mutually exclusive ideas. For example, much has been made of incarnational mission vs. attractional mission. But it seems to me that both of those things can co-exist (one will be the foundation of the other, of course, and I believe incarnational mission needs to be the modus operandi for the missional church), but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to invite someone to a meeting.
Our church sent out postcards a few weeks ago to people in our neighborhood, telling them about a free seminar we’re hosting this weekend on relationships. Would it be so bad if people from the neighborhood came to the seminar? I think sometimes we think in false dichotomies. To be involved in incarnational mission is not necessarily to abandon inviting people to come to a certain event. Of course we’re in trouble if that’s the only way we do mission ("Come to our church so the professionals can "do their thing" to you and make you into a Christian"). Better to train people to live God’s mission in their everyday contexts, but sometimes doing that will involve an invitation to come. Again, the issue is foundations, and from what direction/perspective you approach it.