Tag Archives: evangelism

Comments on incarnational and attractional ministry

The last few months, I have spent time sorting out the principles of my church’s evangelistic strategy.  The short of it is that we must move towards being heavily weighted towards incarnational evangelism in intent and action.  This will enable greater engagement with greater numbers of non-churched people in our community, and in turn this will drive our existing attractional structures. Hence, the relationship between incarnational ministry and attractional ministry can be seen as a virtuous circle:

Virtuous Circle of Attractional and Incarnational

Hence, although the church is always still going to run attractional services (like evangelistic rallies, youth group, children’s holiday clubs), this is not the bread and butter of evangelism.  For the real core must be in personal, one-on-one (or small group) situations where friendships are made, life is shared and gospel-speaking-in-relationship opportunities are taken.

In fact, as Chester helpful suggests, it is best to avoid the false polarisation between incarnational (Chester calls this missional) and attractional. He goes on to say “[t]he problem is in fact that both sides view church as a meeting you attend. Even those who reject attractional church implicitly view church as a meeting. But everything changes if you view church as a community or a network of relationships. Then attractional church is not about putting on a good show, but about a community life that attracts people to God.”[1]

This means that our evangelistic plan will be a four-fold strategy:

  1. Individual Incarnational: this is the primary movement of evangelism which we are focussed upon. We are sending our people into the community (into their workplaces, places of study, homes) to make relationships and disciples by being with people as Christ was.  Keller helpfully outlines the basic form of this ministry as:[2]
    1. Organic – it happens spontaneously outside of the church’s organised programs;
    2. Relational – done in the context of informal personal relationships;
    3. Word deploying – prayerfully bringing the Bible and gospel into connection with people’s lives;
    4. Active (not passive) – each person assumes personal responsibility of being a produce of ministry.
  2. Group engagement with community: this is an incarnational movement (either in a large group or in a series of smaller groups) which looks to bring the church into the community. In one sense, it is being a good citizen in the community with no other motive than to be a loving and dutiful servant of all.  This adds to and builds upon the “#1 Individual Incarnational” strategy, as well as flows into the third strategy.
  3. Group attractional to existing structures: this is an attractional movement of people from the community into our existing physical and/or ministry structures. This would only be possible if #1 and #2 are done well and that our existing structures adequately service the need that the community may have.  In this attractional engagement, it is envisaged that the gospel is preached and people are called to repentance.
  4. Staff lead and modelled for #1-#3. Moreover, ministry staff are tasked to raise, train leaders, and provide infrastructure to make this happen.

[1] Tim Chester, Online at “http://timchester.wordpress.com/2008/09/21/attractional-church-verses-missional-church/

[2] Timothy Keller, Center Church, 280.


Jerry Seinfeld gets why its hard to do relational evangelism!

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Seinfeld_actors_montage.jpgWhen you’re in your thirties it’s very hard to make a new friend. Whatever the group is that you’ve got now that’s who you’re going with, you’re not interviewing, you’re not looking at any new people, you’re not interested in seeing any applications. They don’t know the places … They don’t know the activities. If I meet a guy in a club or the gym, I’ll tell him, “I’m sure you’re a very nice person, you seem to have a lot of potential, but we’re just not hiring right now.”

Seinfeld, “The Boyfriend (1),” Directed by Tom Cherones, Season 3, Episode 17, Broadcast date: February 12, 1992 – sourced from http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2014/april/6042114.html

I was just looking up Jerry Seinfeld quotes and I came across one of his that explains why it is so hard to do personal, relational evangelism.  Basically the premise of personal evangelism is making friends and through those friendships, sharing your life and the gospel.  If at the heart of it, in our western culture, people over 30 don’t seem to want to make new friends, then that kind of kills any chance for relational evangelism!

Thankfully God is bigger than our cultural tendencies….

One reason I love our Archbishop ….

Archbishop Peter Jensen has been a pretty good leader of our diocese the last decade or so.  But if I were to reflect on the one thing that has effected me most in my time under him, it’s been the great things I learnt under his preaching.  I still even remember the sermon he preached on the Holy Spirit when he was guest speaker at St Clements Mosman (over 20 years ago)!

This year, he came to speak at SPCH on the same day Stephen Lungu was giving his testimony.  Stephen Lungu is a powerful African evangelist.  And the Archbishop was scheduled to preach from Romans 5 immediately after Stephen’s awesome and engaging testimony.  And of course, Peter Jensen did not disappoint.  I’ve given and heard a lot of evangelistic sermons this year – and the Archbishop’s has to be up there in the top couple!  Listen to the audio below:

Stephen Lungu’s testimony –

Archbishop Peter Jensen’s response –

PS: Peter gave this sermon after dinner, and one thing I love is the spontenaity of the sermon.  On the way into the church he said “I’m bored of the sermon I wrote, do you mind if I preach another?” (ie do you mind if I wing it?)

PPS: The last 30 seconds of the sermon brought the house down.

The Crewmen Commitment

At the end of the final session from the Crewmen Conference, we called the men forward to make a commitment to share their story of what Jesus has done for them – a commitment to evangelism.  The whole room stood as one and made their way to the front to sign a pledge.

Here is the result.

Thanks Crewmen.