Friday, September 04, 2009

We're just not that attractive

Thanks to John for that interesting stat from Graham Cray (comments to consuming our way to discipleship): only 6% of the population are likely to be attracted to church events such as Back to Church Sunday (something our church is taking part in).

Hirsch's point is, I think, very telling. And it's reinforced by Cray's comment. In short, what we do in church isn't very attractive, so it isn't going to attract many people. I have to say that most of what the church does wouldn't attract me!

Hirsch argues that churches inhabit only one narrow section of our highly fragmented society. Using a cultural difference scale popular with missionaries, he shows that most of our neighbours are not 'culturally proximate' to us and that we therefore have to cross cultures - just as those going overseas as missionaries - in order to share the gospel.

This means that the attractional model no longer works. We cannot just put on an event and expect people to come. We have to go to them, on to their turf and communicate in their language. That's a tall order for most of our congregations who've grown up in a world where they set the terms of engagement in evangelism. That world is gone.

The great thing is, as Hirsch points out, our world is not that dissimilar to the one the church was born into and so the New Testament is a helpful guide to help us ask the right questions about how we can be missional church in our context.

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