I’ve spent the last month talking with pastors around the US about church transformation. A few pastors are in really difficult situations (read more at: Leaving Egypt and Not Liking it).
From those discussions, it seems that a common meaning of church transformation is
Church transformation is to move a church that is stuck or in serious decline,
and lead them into a new vision of what God has for them.
Thus launching a new life cycle of growth.
Ed Stetzer calls them Comeback Churches.
Ron Crandall calls them TurnAround Churches.
I’ve seen other various titles, like Boomerang church, Redevelopment, Revitalization.
Seems the common word now is Transformational.
Moving from Attractional to Missional
A common thread shared by these pastors is their labor at moving congregations to shift
- from an exclusive focus on attractional methodology tweaks
- to becoming more missional and engaging their community.
It’s a journey in process, and some have moved further along than others.
What is attractional ministry?
Attractional ministry is focused on
- quality programs,
- excellent hospitality, and
- marketing to get people in the door.
This was sometimes called a “magnetic” church. It still is very valuable as a model that supports the work of evangelism of the local church.
Attractional ministry is based on the idea that if you do enough marketing, you can get more foot traffic in your door.
Your hospitality will help the newcomers “stick” and your church will grow.
It’s a variant of “if you build it they will come.”
As I’ve looked at
- Evangelism Committee reports (What is the purpose of an Evangelism Committee?),
- church information forms,
- and mission studies,
a lot of churches still think that making small process adjustments to their parking lot, greeting process, or welcoming will help them reach out to the neighborhood.
What is missional?
I’m not giving a full definition of missional.
In this context, a Missional focus however moves to help the church re-engage its neighborhood.
Some pastors are in island churches, meaning their church is mostly commuters who used to live in that neighborhood.
The culture around the church has changed (demographically, socio-economically), but the church has not adjusted accordingly, thus being a cultural island.
Missional helps the church get out of hoping people will visit them to actively engaging the needs and people of the community, and in the process both demonstrating and sharing the faith in Jesus as Lord.
Many of the pastors I spoke with this past month are trying to move congregations in this direction.