It seems churches today are very interested in what attracts people to their services and participation in their programs and ministries. Some have referred to churches that prioritize this concern as “attractional churches”
“The attractional church seeks to reach out to the culture and draw people into the church. Attractional churches design their services and programs in such a way as to “attract” attendees. A primary focus of an attractional church is to attract congregants to worship services.” (From GotQuestions.org)
Consequently many have given attention to the preferences of the broader culture… They have, adjusted music, lighting, stage accouterments, and the attire of those on the stage to appeal to the broader culture. Sermons and Bible studies (“talks”) are crafted and delivered to appeal to “guests.” Buildings are constructed and furnished with the needs (and interests) of the “outsider” in focus. Everything is examined with the goal of attracting “guests” to their services and ministries.
Question is however… Are these things what primarily attract people to gravitate to a church and become “followers of Christ” – are these the things they truly looking for in a “church?” What is it that truly makes a church – a fellowship of believers – “attractional?”
This morning I read a passage in Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that focuses on two key summarizing elements that, I believe if followed, would make a church authentically and powerfully “attractional”. Both address the behavior and attitude of its members, more than its accessories and activities, and both are articulated as warnings. Here they are:
- Give no opportunity to the devil.
- Be careful not to do, say, or entertain anything that would grieve the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the passage: Just Imagine the impact of a congregation within a community whose members exhibit the following characteristics…Therefore, putting away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor! We are members one of another! Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. GIVE NO OPPORTUNITY TO THE DEVIL! Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. AND DO NOT GRIEVE THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (From Ephesians 4:25-32)
I believe the summarizing elements I’ve identified encompass what this passage addresses. I believe they are keys, often neglected, that will truly make a church “attractional” – NOT the building, NOT the programs, NOT so much what takes place on the “stage” – instead the quality and character of the people!