Monday, November 3, 2008

Corvettes, Geos, and Church Models


There has been tension within evangelical ranks as to the model of church that is most faithful to Scripture: Attractional or Incarnational. A new breed of churchmen appear to have a fatal allergy to anything “attractional” or “corporate,” by which they mean most large gatherings on Sunday mornings that are somewhat programmed; gatherings which include skilled musicians leading people in singing, as well as a skilled man teaching people from the Bible. In other words, these churchmen have an allergy to what we have assumed to be church. This allergy is due in large part to a conviction that such a model has perpetuated passivity and spectatorship. This is either because the model is intrinsically flawed or unnecessary for capturing the New Testament church ethos.

I suspect that many of these churchmen are responding to an abuse of the “attractional” model. Certainly, many pastors have reduced “church” to the two hours on a Sunday morning. This is a shame. Whatever the rationale may be, I think it’s in unwarranted rejection. The solution of abandoning traditional church is an exaggerated prescription, like amputating your arms because of arthritis in your hands. Unknowingly, they’ve limited their missional velocity.

The mistake they’ve made is kind of like a person driving a Chevy Corvette taking mountain corners no faster than 30 mph, because every time he’s seen Chevy Geo Metros taking corners faster than 30 they flip and the driver dies. He concludes that all Chevy’s flip at 35mph and faster. He’s responded to the limitations of a bad Chevy (Geos) by concluding that all Chevys are bad (including Corvettes); he’s limited the potential of his good Chevy because of the limitations of a bad Chevy.

Like wise, many have responded to the limitations of bad corporate gatherings by concluding that all “corporate” gatherings are bad –thereby limiting the potential of good gatherings for their movement.