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I don't know what sparked the conversation but I was talking to a friend recently about church, more specifically types of church. I was telling him about two different camps or mindsets when it comes to the purpose of what Christians do on Sunday mornings (or Saturday if you prefer). I described for him what I differentiate as the attractional/evangelistic model and the family-gathering/discipleship model. Here are what I see as the major differences.
- make church fun
- sermons geared mainly for non-Christians
- more showmanship
- emphasis on excellenance in all things, all the time
- people bring friends, pastor witnesses to them
- service is done with outsiders mostly in mind
- more of a serious event
- sermons geared mainly for Christians
- less performance and more interaction with congregation
- less emphasis on everything being perfect
- people bring friends, but do the majority of witness during the week
- pastor preaches to Christians for instruction, conviction, encouragement, development
- service is done with outsiders welcomed but not specifically catered to
I'm sure some people are feeling vastly over/under characterized by these descriptions. "You completely misrepresented us!" Please forgive me. In these descriptions I'm merely pointing out what I have seen and experienced in my years involved with church. I am not casting judgement on either style.
What I explained to my friend is that both these camps have pros and cons. They also exist on a continuum. You have churches that are so seeker-friendly they don't have a single cross in the building. On the other end of the spectrum you have churches so Christian-friendly they are completely shut off from the outside world. Although my preference is towards the Discipleship model of church, I don't think churches at the far end of either sides of the spectrum are particularly helpful to the cause of Christ and the Kingdom of God.
Maybe I'll write more about each type of church and why I lean the way I do. Or maybe not, who knows. For now lunch break is over and I have to get back to work.