Blog post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
I am excited about the keynote speaker and worship leader at our upcoming presbytery gathering. Dr. Bonnie Sue Lewis is the Professor of Mission and World Christianity at Dubuque Seminary. She is speaking to us about being a missional church. I thought it would be a good idea to do a short blog on what missional church means, and why we are learning about it in Giddings-Lovejoy.
Missional church means believing that God is active and involved in the world, and our job as church is to find out what God is doing and join God. This does not mean that God is not present in the local church. Missional church is just another way to do church. Alan J. Roxburgh an M. Scott Boren explain missional church in their book, Introducing the Missional Church. They define our current model of church as the Attractional Model. They write:
“The assumption of the attractional imagination is that average people outside the church are looking for a church and know they should belong to one, and therefore, church leaders should create the most attractive attractional church possible. The mission, then, is to get people to attend.”
I believe our congregations function in the attractional model. We try to make our churches welcoming, and our programing inviting. We have contemporary worship, PowerPoint, and jazz bands. And there is nothing wrong with any of these. Missional church is not a criticism of the attractional model. Unfortunately, the attractional model only works in 20% of our congregations. These congregations are growing. The other 80% of our congregations using the attractional model are somewhere between staying even and a drastic, unsustainable reduction in membership. Since the attractional model isn’t working for the majority of our congregations, the missional church is another possible idea.
Roxburgh and Boren explain missional church this way:
“God is at work in the world to redeem creation, and God invites us to participate in this mission. . . This imagination turns most of our church practices on their head. It invites us to turn toward our neighborhoods and communities, listening first to what is happening among people and learning to ask different question about what God is up to in the neighborhood. . . What are the ways we need to change in order to engage the people in our community who no longer consider church a part of their lives?”
Come out and learn about missional church. I invite you to participate in the neighborhood canvas as well and begin looking for what God is doing in our neighborhoods.
Rev. Craig M. Howard