Missional vs. Attractional

In recent years there has been an ongoing discussion between two primary ministry methodologies in contemporary church life.  (Quite frankly it seems as if there has been more discussion than ministry sometimes.)  The missional church believes that all Christians are to be ‘sent ones’.  The mark of the missional church is that the people leave the church building and contextualize the gospel in the community/culture they are trying to reach.  The attractional church by definition aims to be attractive, with a great emphasis on engaging, culturally relevant, high quality Sunday services.  The goal of the attractional church is to draw the unchurched.  The framework of the debate usually puts the two methodologies against each other.  Pastors and churches are challenged to be Missional OR Attractional. It’s Missional vs. Attractional.

I believe it can be, and should be: Missional AND Attractional.  I believe the church should be engaging on Sunday, and engaged in the community.  I believe the way the church delivers the message of the gospel should be relevant and that we should live the gospel (good news) in our society.  I believe we can be sensitive to felt needs (attractional) AND clearly articulate the gospel and make much of Jesus (missional).  I believe a church can invite people to come (attractional) and be people who go (missional).

Discovery Church is BOTH Missional and Attractional.  Here is an example of how from this past week:

Sunday morning we have an attractional approach to ministry.  We create environments that are attractive, whether it be the Cafe, or the band playing music that is upbeat and relevant to our culture.  One ‘unchurched’ guest said to me in the church lobby that our Cafe was “Kick A$$”.  Another loved the music and both like our attractional  style, having never seen church done this way.  In the sermon we talked about making love a verb as Jesus did in John 13.  Specifically we addressed dealing with conflict in relationships Biblically.  It was a great “attractional” Sunday morning.


At 2pm our church went into the heart of our city and partnered with the Water Angels ministry serving and ministering to the homeless.  We fed them, loved on them, provided them with clothing and shoes, played football with the kids.  We worshiped with them, preached the gospel and had several respond for salvation.  It was a great “missional” Sunday afternoon.  And we’ll do it again in a few weeks.

It doesn’t have to be Missional OR Attractional…it can be BOTH.

– Brad

2 thoughts on “Missional vs. Attractional

  1. Good thoughts. It is important to be attractive, but that will never be enough. We have to take the love of Jesus to the world, impact them where they live, for no reason other than it’s the right thing to do.

    I would take it even a step further and say that a Missional church IS an Attractional church. The generation we are trying to reach is looking for a cause. They want to be engaged and have an opportunity to make a difference in their communities and in their world. They’ll find that somewhere. Why shouldn’t it be the church?

  2. Great perspective on the “conversations” that are taking place within church circles. With the release of books such as Crazy Love and Radical plus the popularity of guys like Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll and Francis Chan, the missional model has become a “hot” commodity (not a knock on any of these things, love them all). However, we must avoid the extremes of either model (attractional/missional). We as leaders should stive for balance while recognizing that both models have value…we must remember though that the importance is not on our model but our message. Our models are valuable in helping us organize and structure the ministry to accomplish our defined purpose, but they will never save one person. It is Christ, His sinless life, His atoning death on the Cross for our sins and His victorious resurrection from the grave that changes lives. That message should be proclaimed unashamedly (Eph. 6:19-20) and clearly (Col. 4:1-5) regardless of what model is practiced. Praise God for churches like Discovery Church that proclaim that very message at every opportunity!

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