WORDS FROM W.W. September 20, 2010
I was reading an article recently that consisted of an interview with Alan Hirsch, regarded as being at the forefront of a movement in the thousands of congregations today called “missional churches” or “missional ministry.”
Hirsch makes the point that the church is declining in attendance and needs to find different ways to speak and new innovative forms of “church.” He writes that almost all churches in our country are “attractional” in their nature. In that form they are attracting 40% of the population. It doesn’t mean that 40% of the population is attending church; it just means that 40% will entertain the possibility of attending. That means that 60% of the population aren’t interested in the attractional form.
That’s hard for us who were raised in the church, and have been attending church our whole lives, to hear. Hirsch’s point is that it doesn’t matter whether a church is contemporary in it’s worship, offers a Saturday night service, serves gourmet coffee, and has a paid professionally staffed praise band. We’re drawing from the same percentage of the pie…the 40% piece. In essence, the church’s addiction for being attractive to our culture has made it, ironic as it sounds, more unattractive to many of the people who need to be introduced to Jesus the most.
In going back to Acts 2 in recent weeks, and looking at the beginnings of the first church, I’m struck by the fact that they were Christ-centered. That might sound like a simplistic statement, but it might also be what churches today are missing. We’ve focused so much on what the wrapping paper looks like that we’ve smothered the Christ-child on the inside. The early church was willing to risk being unattractive to the culture if that’s where God was leading them to go.
I agree with this statement that Hirsch makes:
“ I was trained in a formal liturgical tradition, where I got the impression that we were meant to be helping people make life decisions and telling them how to live their lives. It’s exhausting if you make decisions for everyone. I really sense God is saying, “You’re not meant to tell people how to live. That’s my job. Your job is to introduce people to Jesus and a true understanding of who Jesus is. You don’t have to control their lives.” And I find that incredibly liberating. When I play Holy Spirit, I usually do a very, very bad job.”
The Cross will never be known for its attractiveness, but it will always be a sign that points to a true understanding of Jesus. If we don’t wrap it up in that thin department store tissue-like paper that results in both hiding it and protecting it, but rather let it speak the truth it holds…our purpose, individually and collectively, will be fulfilled.