Yesterday, we took a look at Google and Apple’s different approachs and how they compare to churches. Google using an attractional church strategy while Apple uses a church missional approach.
(I suggest reading part one, first, as this post will make a lot more sense.)
Both Google/attractional and Apple/missional have their positives and negatives, so what if we did both? What would that look like?
Let’s take a look…
A Third Way—The Best of Both
Both Google and Apple are great companies that create awesome products. In many ways, their similarities bely their diametric opposition to each other’s success. The same could be said of our two church models: attractional and missional. If I had to label my church, which is hard as someone on the inside, we’re an attractional church that’s slowing finding a mission. (Not that we didn’t have one before. Maybe I should say that we’re finding practical ways to put feet to our mission.)
Personally, I think that Apple and Google could learn a lot from each other, and I think that these church models might be improved by learning from each other.
What Attractional Churches Do Right
There are so many obstacles in the way of outsiders finding their way inside, so it only seems right that churches should go out of their way to remove these barriers. I’m not talking about watering down the message, but I am talking about changing a culture that looks down on someone for wearing jeans or—gasp!—jean shorts to Sunday morning worship. The unchurch are going to dress, speak, and behave like unchurched people—shoot, some “churched” people do that anyway! Attractional churches do what Jesus did: they attract sinners.
What Attractional Churches Could Improve
Attractional churches attract sinners like Jesus did, but not really how Jesus did. They hold events, offer programs and classes, and essentially assume the posture of a helpful friend or neighbor. They’re loving and welcoming, which is exactly how Jesus was…at time. He was also passionate, dogmatic, severe, even mean when it came to it. He lashed out at hypocrisy and drew a firm line in the sand, claiming to be the only way to God and that those who do not belong to Him will be cast out into the “outer darkness.” I don’t see attractional churches ever drawing a hard line. That’s why, to many, they seem to be more like country clubs and social groups more than churches. And if their members/attenders treat them as such, then the front door and the back door become part of a sick cycle as no one really invests in the church.
What Missional Churches Do Right
The very last words that Jesus gave to His disciples was a commission, a commanded mission, if I can make that terrible word play. Missional churches take those words seriously. They are heaven-bent (see what I did there?) on seeing people saved, lives changed, and the Kingdom advanced. This is awesome. The members of a missional church are united and devoted to the mission of comforting “orphans and widows,” proclaiming freedom to prisoners, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor. Missional churches are in it to win it…for Jesus.
What Missional Churches Could Improve
Missional churches are in it to win it for Jesus, and yet sometimes, that passion comes off like a competitive junior higher in PE. Whereas missional churches might mock the attractional as “all sizzle and no steak,” the missional church can come off as a very pricey steak, indeed. The investment that these churches require in time and attention can make the financial investment of buying from Apple seem miniscule. For some outsiders, it may seem impossible to even consider attending such a church. It might even be hard for struggling Christians who see such a church as one that prefers people to be perfect, ready for a mission, as soon as they park their cars in the lot. Missional churches need to find a way to help outsiders and struggling insiders invest in the mission, especially when they don’t—or at least feel like they don’t—have much left to invest. Passion is excellent, but sometimes, raw passion can erode the grace of the Gospel. Jesus was passionated, even fierce, and yet a “bruised reed” He wouldn’t break. The impression that some missional churches can sometimes give off is that they specialize in breaking bruised reeds.
What if a church sought everyone where they were, took them as they are, and then brought them to a place of mission-unity? As the mission and the Master become clearer and dearer, then issues like holiness, investment, and hypocrisy would surely shrink and fade. Both types of churches are trying to do the work of God, and I personally think that both sides have a lot to offer each other.
Just like Google and Apple.