What Makes Your Church Attractive? Part 2

Continuing from part 1, we shared that entertainment or recreational-propelled worship is the wrong kind of attraction to the church community than what the Scriptures call for. It’s not a missional-oriented approach because it is man-centric. While deliciously tempting to fall into, an attitude of let’s change this to attract more people can actually become an affront to God, all while using his name. So, how do we maintain our missional edge and a holy attractiveness at the same time?

"Coming Attractions"Are You Serious?

It’s radical devotion to the rules of the gospel and living our new identity in Christ that makes us so beautiful. We need to be serious about our active piety. It is our devotion which points to the real, radical center of Jesus. How can you tell when a church is flowing in this attractive sense of devotion? Tim Keller recently shared that one sign occurs when new guests come to your church gatherings. They will notice a number of familiar forms about church (things they expect to see) but they will also see a people (young and old) who practice them with a serious, new life. Prayer has power and passion, forgiveness works, and the community is filled with hope of the kind that welcomes the good reign of God and its final coming.

The Attractive City of Love

Jonathan Edwards called the church, The Glorious Society of God. Edwards’ emphasis was that God wills himself (his perfections and wonders) to be known through the power of a redeemed people on display. The church, therefore, becomes a reflection of Heaven; what Edwards also called The City of Love.

Therefore, we can’t “make our church attractive” or the story and glory would be all about us. Attractiveness, therefore, is a by-product of the shared, communal pursuit of Jesus and the practice of active love. We could describe it as a people who are actively falling in love with Jesus, but that phrase is so vague and dried-out by modern meanings. Instead, our concentration is serving the Lord by serving others and attractiveness will happen often without us even recognizing it — and definitely not by forcing or generating it.

Because the church is the alternative city, it should and it will portray the image of the City of Love. In Heaven, you never have to try to fit-in. A person will never experience the want of being accepted. In Heaven, right now and forever, love emanates outward. Waves of love greet the child coming Home. From the enthroned epicenter, through the Apostles, outward from the great saints, coursing over the multitude of the elect, raced along by praising angels, cascading down into the thousands on Earth gathered in God’s family, received by us in the church, and spread around the world to the last, the least, and the lost, this is how we experience the path and power of God’s love.

We as God’s children are surrounded by a great cloud of saints, all compelling the farthest to come into the banquet, and never to be separated from the love of God by anything. Holy Minestrone! Now that’s attractive!

So, I would say that we shouldn’t throw out the word ‘attractional‘ but we should be careful what we apply it to.

What Makes Your Church Attractive? Part 1

I’d like to share a couple of minestre on how God has made the church attractive and how we can mess that up by following a bad definition of the word “attractive.” Much has been written on the subject of missional vs. attractional church, so my addition here is simply practical in nature. My approach is that we should not throw-out the word attractional, but re-define it and understand it as a function of mission. Here’s what I mean:

"Coming Attractions"

We all desire inspiration in our lives, and we ache for wonder. Inspiration and wonder are misty synonyms describing that we truly long for God himself; that clear connection with the Divine. Our natural problem (3-letter word beginning with s and ending with n), however, is that while we seek for wonder, we want to find it everywhere else apart from Christ [Rom 3:11]. Showing mankind his awesome kindness and attracting us away from destruction, God gave himself to us in Jesus Christ — the central attraction of the universe!

Then, God placed his wonder all around us in the creation (which testifies about God passively day-by-day) and also called a people from out of the world to show his “excellent perfections”¹ (the Church which testifies about God actively day-by-day) [Rom 2:4]. God chose and called the Church to be his living demonstration of his own wonder, beauties, and glories. Therefore, the Church is attractional by the nature God gives to her — to be an active, representative community of the excellencies of God. The Church is not attractional to True Wonder as a recreational or entertainment-propelled society.

Can Man Market God?

The instant we try to better our worship methods for the reason of attracting people and not for the rendering of  more beautiful and holy worship which God deserves from his people is the very moment we become unfaithful witnesses of the living God.

Psalm 50:2

We stoop-down into a marketing competition that says, in essence, be attracted to us through your appetites. We’ll sing and say what you like. It is also the moment we begin using God more than adoring him. Our focus is off in this kind of thinking and performance because we are working to put on a good show in the name of God. Presently, our western cultural forms have pushed Christianity and the serious consideration of the biblical God to the margins of society. However, winning people back is not done through techniques that try to make the all-beautiful God more consumer-friendly. Rather, God is radiant when he is celebrated and magnified as good and all-together lovely by his devoted people. More on how that looks in my next minestra…

That God’s Church, in Scripture is represented as Christ’s house or temple, and as his raiment and ornament, and as a golden candlestick, etc., is wholly constituted of those saints that are his jewels, that are the spoils of his enemies, that were once his enemies’ possession, but that he has redeemed out of their hands.²

¹ Jonathan Edwards used the description of the ‘excellent perfections’ of God on display through his church. I borrowed that word picture from him.
² The Essential Edwards Collection,  
On Beauty, p. 98