attractional vs. missional vs. incarnational

these are the buzzwords in american evangelical church culture.

what does attractional mean? a church tries to entice unbelivers to darken their doors. whether its through music, drama, jargon free sermons, power point presentations, or door prizes (this is true). these churches usually do not have signs out front that say "turn or burn" or "my God can beat up your god." in fact they might not have anything churchy about their interior design such as crosses. the thinking is that unbelivers might not want ot hear a message if they are offended by something with too much religious baggage. the baggage may be incorrect but why waste time explaining the falsehood before offering the gift of salvation? churches who label themselves, seeker-sensitive, are examples of the attractional church. the sunday service is often evangelistic in order to bring those seekers into the kingdom of God. "the Emerging Church may be seen as both a reaction to, and a continuation of the Saddleback/Willow Creek movement, which achieved such great success in the 1990s using a "seeker-friendly" approach. The "seeker-friendly" approach practiced ‘come-to-church’ evangelism while the emergent church thesis is ‘discover church’ evangelism, in which the powerful (and often challenging) symbols and practices of the early church are poured into the modern church."

what is missional? the church is a launching pad and engagement with unbelievers happens when the belivers engage them off-campus, so to speak. "go out into the world to serve God rather than isolate themselves within communities of like-minded individuals." they understand the kingdom of God is breaking in and they just need to be a part of it. they will bring merciful service off-campus instead of inviting people needing mercy and charity on-campus. they bring the kingdom to the world. its not abnormal for these churches to have a service in a cafe or bar on a weeknight. they figure a church service for believers is what unbelievers should see. unbelievers might even be invited to participate if the group size allows. for example at work church we would welcome any input that an unbeliever has as we interact with the text of the gospels.

incarnational is a subset of missional. an incarnational approach doesn't define themselves by their creedal statements but by their actions. It's related to Jesus' statements to his disciples that they will be known by their love, John 13:34-35. its in response to a "continuing dissatisfaction with our modern tendency to separate theory and practice."

house churches will often bring church to a new believer or even an unbeliever. they'll ask do you have an open night at your home? can we bring some friends? can you invite some friends? and they'll hang out, read the bible together, talk about it, and talk to God together. if there are needs they'll try to help each other and ask God to help too.

but i'm wondering if this is a false dichotomy. doesn't it always end up being attractional? ultimately, Jesus attracts people to himself. even if you are meeting with some belivers in a bar or at work, unbelievers need to want to join your clique. don't read more into clique than a very small community with shared values. is the clique attractive in some dimension. some men have testimonies of finding salvation because they went to some pretty girls' church. hopefully, the believing clique is attractive because collectively, it resembles Jesus, they are an incarnation of him. part of his attraction was the stuff he did which he would seque into his message that the kingdom of God is near. so i'm opposed to the casting of stones at being attractional. we should be attractive, resembling Jesus, an incarnation here and now of him, while we bring the mission of the Kingdom of God to the world.

I appreciate this from Organic Church dot net, "Therefore, as an incarnation community we are to move into our neighbourhoods. Giving up our own self-interests and positions of power and even our rights, we are to empty ourselves of answers, to take the humble posture of a learner and to enter into conversation with our neighbour. We are to take on the form of our neighbour, to speak his language and to seek to understand his thoughts, values and symbols. We are to take the posture of a servant to him, to experience his life of joy and pain, and so to allow the gospel to speak to him where he is at and to allow him to experience the gospel in the shared life of the faith community. We are to live out our lives in such a way as to point beyond ourselves to the greater reality of God, and to offer him life in God and hope of deliverance, to call him too to offer his loyalties to the one true God in the context of the community . By drawing people into the life of the community by their encounter with the cultural, yet counter-cultural, acts of that community allows them to not respond to a self-help or a self-protective gospel, but ensures that they understand that they are responding to a call to a new way of life."

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