I know that title can seem a bit much. But it hits on a few big points that get covered on this blog frequently.
INCARNATIONAL — entering into the world, becoming flesh, “moving into the neighborhood”
CHURCH — We’re still talking about he church here, even if we’re getting beyond conversations about what happens within its walls
POST-MODERN CONTEXT — This is the contemporary world where church does not have the same cultural dominance and where it is often viewed as one option (for time, money, theology) among many.
And the title is the heading of a section of a blog post called “MISSIONAL DISCIPLESHIP” from M28, in Pennsylvania:
Those with a missional church viewpoint, no longer see the church service as the primary connecting point for those outside the church. For some, this is unbelievable and intolerable. While there is nothing wrong with attracting people to participate in various meetings in the church, the missional church is more concerned about sending the people in the church out into the world, even as “sheep among wolves.” They see this as more important than getting people of the world into the church building. Some have described the missional-attractional distinction as a challenge to “go and be” as opposed to “come and see.”
The attractional model of church has dominated the church in the west for the past several decades. It seeks to be relevant and draw people into it. However, this approach only works when there are no significant cultural barriers to overcome when making the move from outside to inside.
As the western culture looks more like a cross-cultural missionary context, the attractional model of the church is more and more self-defeating, according to many astute observers.
On the other hand, mission churches and missional leaders see their primary function as one of actively moving into a community to embody and flesh out the life and ministry of Christ.
This incarnational impulse represents the imbedding of the Gospel into a local community context. It resembles the intent of Scripture similar to what we read in Eugene Peterson’s rendering of John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”
It’s exciting to see the M28 folks putting this into practice.