The Delicate Balance of Attractional and Missional Worship

Being missional versus attractional may imply that one is more desirable than the other. The temptation herein is to see these contrasting values as opposites. No one is suggesting that to be the case here. It is possible to be both missional and attractional. Being missional implies an outward focus, an intent to reach outside of the church walls. That intent, when actively operational in any church, is attractional to those on the outside, frequently resulting in folks being drawn into fellowship and salvation.

Furthermore, the value of tradition versus the need to contemporize raises a similar tension, not easily resolved across the full spectrum of church experience. When these values are seen as polar opposites, dictating an either/or response, the tension becomes obvious and frequently divisive. The truth is that both values are compatible within the church, and both must be respected. However, when tradition is abandoned entirely because of some perceived need to contemporize, the possibility exists that much good is jettisoned for some artificial and perhaps misguided motivation.

The church will never fail, of that I am certain. What exists today may persist for a decade or less, or it may last for a hundred years. Who can say? Secular influences in the church, likewise, are not static. They are dynamic, trendy, faddish. The point is we cannot be certain regarding secular standards, values and influences. They are like shifting sand.

A church’s worship experience and expression, which adopts and models itself on those standards, values, and influences, is likewise just as shifty and temporary. If the model for worship in a church is performance versus participation, acceptance and tolerance versus holiness, inclusive versus exclusive, common and everyday versus uncommonly sacramental, emotional and trite versus symbolic and mysterious, it is no doubt subject to the changing influences of society in general and perhaps even dominated by them.

Adapted from THE RISE (AND FALL) OF THE SECULAR CHURCH:

Observations of the Church Since Whatever Happened to Worship by A.W. Tozer by

Ronald E Fessenden, MD

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RonFessenden@churchleaders.com'
Ron Fessenden, MD, MPH is a retired medical doctor with five previously published works.

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