All movements start out with deconstruction. Eventually they make some peace with the past and present, incorporating elements of what has gone before into the new world order.
The missional church conversation is a good example. For about a decade most of the talk was deconstructionist–what's wrong with the church, “death to the institution,” etc. I contributed to that conversation.
But I have been privileged also to be part of the maturing conversation. “As a case in point, consider the trajectory of discussion around “attractional vs. incarnational”–that was the deconstructionist phase. “Attractional and incarnational” is now the prevailing mood–a shift in sentiment that expresses the maturation of an idea.
Our clients at Leadership Network, unsurprisingly, are leading the way.
Here's an example of what I mean. In the past month we have hosted two Missional Renaissance Leadership Communities. One has been focused on declaring “epic wins” for their community engagement, with some pretty spectacular results. City Church in San Antonio raised nearly a quarter million pounds of food on Easter Sunday. They are well on their way of having the faith community raise a million pounds next Easter. Cedar Creek church in Toledo OH has declared war on illiteracy in northwest Ohio, while TarrantNet (a consortium of 150-plus congregations in Fort Worth) have trained and deployed over 500 reading coaches into the FWISD, with their goal of having every first grader reading at a first grade level.
These are congregations and networks of congregations engaging thousands of people doing things that can only be accomplished with the synergy of large groups. Attractional models incarnating the love of Jesus in very tangible ways.
A second leadership community targets the development and deployment of missional communities as part of the partcipants' missional strategies. These missional communities are small groups of people who can get into the cracks and crevices of our culture, matching the life rhythms of people who are not susceptible to being congregationalized. Some target the down and out; others move into the gated communities of the up and out. The goal is to be church where people live, work, play, and do life. These are incarnational church expressions unaccompanied by expectations that people adopt attractional church for their spiritual pathway of development. This is a new development in the Western church. Incarnational expressions championed by attractional faith centers.
People often ask me about the future of the church and to describe the church of the future. My reply sometimes consternates them, but it is the only one I can offer with confidence. It is going to look like a bunch of things. We will continue to have big box stores and small boutiques. We will have community networks and internet campuses. Historical congregations will soldier on while some expressions come together for a particular season and reason.
Attractional and incarnational.