Missional Field Notes

Quotes, Examples, and Ideas from My Missional Frontier

I’ve always been liked the definition of the attractional church verses the missional church. For me, the attractional church is what I’ve been part of my whole life and what I have to keep fighting against in my current setting. It’s the notion that church is all about getting people to come to it.  The missional is all about sending folks out. It’s about meshing the concept of “missions” with the daily lives of Christians.

Here’s how Ken Carter describes it:

There’s an important distinction to be made between “attractional church” and “missional church.” Some key differences include:

  • An attractional church sees itself as the center toward which people and resources flow.
  • A missional church sees itself as a gathering from which people and resources flow toward the world.
  • Attractional absorbs people into community. Missional sends them out.

Of course, most healthy and vital congregations are both attractional and missional.

But, I would argue, most churches are MORE attractional than they are missional. Which is a problem.


I have been asked by many, “why didn’t you take a mission trip this summer?” Let me answer that important question.

I want to be careful to not limit our understanding of missions to an event or a trip. Being involved in missions is having a mindset to be intentional to meet the needs of others in order to share the love of God. Having a missional mindset should be a character quality that we all work on developing to be a part of who we are on a daily basis, and it does not require a trip.
I think mission trips are great things, as I am about to head out with our college students on a mission trip to serve the needy children in Amarillo. But, this week was a good reminder for us all that missions is more than a trip to take, it is a mindset to develop which we can do right here in our own area.

July 23, 2016

I confess that I’ve never thought about it before. Vacation Bible School, in my head and in my churches, was always a week in the summer where we put on a program and invited children in the community to come. In Frankfort, Indiana, it had been so long since they had done a VBS that we had to start just about from scratch. But there was a great facility for multiple classrooms and it worked really well. In Kenai, Alaska, we went for a one-day model. In Girdwood we often had work teams that came up to assist (or, really, lead) VBS and we had good numbers, even in a little one-room church. In Seward we’ve done it a couple of years as well, trying to plan it around who was going to lead it.

In other words, we’ve always planned around the leaders, what worked for us.

But what works best for the kids and their parents.

Over at Think Christian, I found the following:

What if instead of trying to reboot VBS to fit our own needs, we went out and asked the community these questions: If we could do something for children in the summer, what would that look like? What would be helpful to you?

I asked a friend who is a single parent what that would look like in her community. The difficulty for her is finding childcare to cover the edges of her schedule. There are almost no camp sessions offered in the first and last weeks of her daughter’s summer vacation and there are many programs whose daily schedule is too short for someone with a 9-to-5 job. I suspect there are churches in her town that could, with some energy, creativity and commitment of resources, fill in these gaps.

Every community is likely to have slightly different needs. Finding a way to address those needs, rather than the wants of our congregations, would be radical hospitality. This hospitality would be experienced by children, who would discover that God’s people love and care for them, and their parents, who would feel supported in their efforts to care for their families and fulfill their vocation. It sounds to me like the sort of radical hospitality Jesus was talking about when He invited children to come to Him.

Having VBS the first and last weeks of summer vacation is a great idea. I know of at least one family in our community who finds childcare a struggle those weeks. That would be a way to really be a blessing to those around us.


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