Attractional Churches = Extractional Churches

This equation is not a unique idea to me but rather was mentioned by Alan Hirsch during a recent conference.

Missional heads have used the term ‘attractional’ to describe the majority of churches and their operations to ‘attract’ people into their buildings with programs and ‘outreach’ events. The saying goes, this consumerist mentality is killing the organic nature of our church ‘growth’ models.

Rather than using the word attractional perhaps a better word is in fact ‘extractional’ in that we extract people from culture, have them do all the cross-cultural work to learn what it means to be a right-wing bible thumping movie hating Christian.

Attractional means ‘come see us’, but it also means ‘learn our language’ before you can actually fit in. Since we don’t have strong ‘newcomer’ systems, (as if you can systematize it), we tend to loose post-Christendom people (assuming they somehow visited in the first place). In fact, not only are we loosing, we’re totally disconnected from the majority of people in our culture today (speaking from a post-Christendom Canadian perspective).

Here’s what I mean. Ever heard of outreach? Apparently people who go to church are a socially awkward bunch who have no ‘pagan’ friends. So you head to church and have them plug you into one of their many outreach events to ‘reach’ the community. Thing is, for most, they are already connected in ‘outreach’ within their community. You do, after all, have jobs don’t you?

Making friends does not need a model. Outreach is not an indrag of people prepared to become deadened by the weight of a disconnected church from culture. No, there’s more than vacuums of our faith.

Vacuum is the title for most churches in North America today. They are created to suck Christians OUT of their neighborhood and plunk them into inefficient and usually poorly orchestrated ‘ministries’ and ‘outreach events’ that the church puts on. They EXTRACT people from the places they should really be.

Solution? We require a reinterpretation of a truly missionary ethos for a new church era. Only the mega churches can do attractional really well since attractional means the ‘best show wins’. The rest are falling by the wayside disconnecting and playing major catch up to the culture around them. Forget about catch up, it’s time to drop the gloves and LEAD culture.

That’s going to take a bit of time, adjustments in perspectives, and in the very least, but the most important, the investment into relationships–people. And I’m not talking about those individualistic relationships that either see you connect with a cliquee small group once a week or emit a prayer to truly get ‘into’ the ‘church community’.

No, I’m talking about those BBQ loving, time consuming, bourbon drinking, nitty gritty in your face over 2 + years (probably 7 in the new Christendom world), types of relationships that are now the norm when it comes to journeying with another human being as they figure out why there is so much emptiness inside their spiritual and relationship quest.

[tags]missional, attractional, extractional[/tags]