In the current discussions found in recent church growth literature two terms seem to be popular.
Attractional was popular when I took church growth classes in the 80s and 90s. Churches focused on attracting people. We wanted to know what we could do to get people to come to worship. Usually we placed a lot of emphasis on Sunday morning worship. Our efforts for excellence were devoted to 10am-12noon on Sundays. While this was important and a valuable way to do ministry things changed.
Now, people aren't coming. Sunday's have little attraction and therefore the church has been challenged to adapt. Missional/Incarnational is a common term used now for the church. Instead of trying to attract those who don't care to come, we have to go get people. Our focus is not on Sunday mornings, its on our weekly ministry.
This past month our conversations with people have revolved around our new recovery groups, Old Testament class, home community leaders' training, women's ministry, new home communities, and our work in social justice. Those who are expressing interest in internships/ministry positions or in helping in leadership say nothing about Sunday morning. Each week I spend time with people, mostly men/fathers/husbands and talk about vision, reaching people, and what God potentially can purpose in their lives. It is great seeing and hearing excitement in people's faith. Some are slowing withering in their churches. Some are not being used nor given a vision.
On Sundays I show up, we sing, we let people share, we invite everyone to the communion table, and we eat/fellowship together. I talk for about 25 minutes about a Biblical text, sometimes show a movie clip, and we have a dialogue about what this means to people's lives. We don't dress up and jeans/flip flops are acceptable. It is hard to believe that people can feel fired up in such a simple Sunday worship but we're fired up about what has been happening all week. We're talking about how we will do outreach. People cry sometimes about how cool this is.
I get fired up when I think about what is happening. Dr. Kilnam Cha teaches an Old Testament class and is excited because half the students are from Dignity Village. He is a great teacher and is encouraging to people who are wanting to learn.
College students and adults show up for a Saturday Home Community Leaders' training and dream about starting new groups. Would they be leading in this way somewhere else.
Our Core Values class once again is full and we talk about vision and believing God has called us to ministry. I see the wheels turning as people smile and accept that God has a purpose for them.
Thursday we start recovery groups. We will have men and women meeting to prepare to start groups in January. Many of these folks have overcome addictions in their lives and know how to help others. They will begin spiritual support groups for those attending professional groups. These groups will be a home community designed to reach out and help people feel safe, accepted, and held accountable. Our new recovery ministry leaders (Zak and Kathy) will help these group leaders lead. Who better to help people with addictions than someone who loves Jesus and has left their addictions. These also are people that may not lead somewhere else, but we will prepare them.