Missional Theology: Incarnational Ministry
Missional Church is about incarnational ministry (versus attractional/extractional) in a post-Christendom context.
Those with a missional perspective no longer see the church service as the primary connecting point for those outside the church. While there is nothing wrong with attracting people to participate in various meetings of the church, the missional church is more concerned about sending the people in the church out among the people of the world, rather than getting the people of the world in among the people of the church. Some have described this missional-attractional distinction as a challenge to
“go and be” as opposed to “come and see.”
The attractional model, which has dominated the church in the West for the past several decades, seeks to reach out to the culture and draw people into the church. However, this approach only works when there are no significant cultural barriers to overcome when making the required move from outside to inside the church. “And as Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, the attractional model has lost its effectiveness. The West looks more like a cross-cultural missionary context in which attractional church models are self-defeating. Furthermore, the process of extracting people from the culture and assimilating them into the church diminishes their ability to speak to those outside.” (Alan Hirsch, Defining Missional, Christianity Today)
On the other hand, missional churches see their primary function as one of actively moving into a community to embody and enflesh the word, deed, and life of Jesus into every nook and cranny. Alan Hirsch speaks of the “missional-incarnational impulse,” where the word “missional” expresses the sending nature of the church, while “incarnational” represents the “embedding” of the gospel into a local context.
“Missional” speaks to our direction – we are sent