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malcolm chamberlain

musings about the emerging church, mission and contemporary culture...

God is at large, intimately involved in his world in ways that the church is maybe just waking up to!

the real attraction...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Alan Hirsch has an interesting post 'here' exposing the attractional model of mission as "literally out-moded" in a post-Christendom context. What is particularly intriguing is the fact that at the end of the post Alan feels the need to write (perhaps prompted by past misunderstandings of his argument)...

"another ambiguity can be explained by saying that while a more missionally defined church moves from a come-to-us mentality to a go-to-them mentality, nonetheless all expressions of church should be attractive. That is, we should always be culturally compelling. Don’t mistake not being attractional for not being attractive."

I hear the distinction well, but would add that even when we focus on being attractive we do so, maybe unconsciously, because we are trapped in the attractional mission model. We try, as churches, to be relevant (and so attractive) to our surrounding context, but still expect people to come to us when we get the relevant thing right.

From my reading of the gospels, it's Jesus who is the 'attractive' one (if you'll excuse the obvious mis-implications of that statement!) For example, when Philip was telling Nathanael about Jesus in John 1, he was able to say "come and see" because he knew that in seeing and meeting Jesus, Nathanael would get it and be drawn (attracted) towards him. Jesus is the one who is attractive and, I guess, attractional (after all, he calls people out of their current situation to follow him). The problem is that the Church and much of what passes for Christian mission is often so caught up in trying to be attractive and relevant that it obscures, by clever programs and reasoned arguments, the One who truly is attractive - Jesus!

Our task in mission is to, like Philip, direct people to Jesus recognising his involvement already in their lives. This will lead us into incarnational 'sent' mission because that's where Jesus is, and it's 'out there', so to speak, in the ordinary, that people will find him and be drawn to him.

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 3:55 PM


Hi Malcolm,

This exactly where my church is at. We obscure Jesus with our cultural trappings and people ignore Jesus because they distinguish what is of jesus and us being cheezy, because we can't imagine doing "sunday gather" any different>


commented by Blogger Tim, 4:50 PM  

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