April 11, 2011 // Posted by Brad Hoffmann //
Culture defines model. Understanding culture is essential to effectiveness. Church context is often irrelevant to community context. The culture within doesn’t necessary relate to the culture without. And to some degree, both should be different. The church is called to be separate. Yet, the methods we often embrace to relate just don’t. Not only have I come to this belief personally, so has the congregation I pastor. While there are still a few dissenters to the obvious, we are intentionally shifting from an attractional or event driven model to a relational and connecting (missional) model.
For years, even prior to my arrival, we’ve embraced whole heartedly an attractional/event driven model. And to tell you the truth, we did it well. We know how to throw a party! Yet, the obvious comes up over and over again; we weren’t feeling the “stick” from the events. Even with follow-up and next step strategies, it just wasn’t working. I’m very aware that attractional or event driven models work well in certain context, just not in ours. Something had to give, a change was essential. We could keep doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results, but that’s insanity – at least I’ve read. If we want different results, we need a different model.
We did some homework. Through research it became blatantly obvious that the number one reason people were drawn to this church – relationships. Friendships were the reason people were drawn to this congregation. The events or attractional stuff was the least of the reasons why people were drawn. It didn’t take much to surmise, our context requires an intentional missional approach – living (being) the gospel in our homes, neighborhoods, workplace, and schools. We’re putting our eggs into the connecting or relational basket.
Here’s the deal, we’re not trying to attract through events, we’re trying to relate through life. It’s a huge change or shift from the model we’ve all learned to work and for some love. It’s comfortable and in the box, yet it doesn’t relate either to context or culture. So what does the immediate change look like? We’ve cancelled or put on hold all “big” events for the next twelve months. I bet you’re wondering which big event or “sacred cow” was put on the altar. I’ll tell you more in the next post.