The “Attractional” Church

by Bryant Evans on May 8, 2012

Churches are searching for young adults. Survey’s have repeatedly shown that people in their 20’s are abandoning churches in growing numbers. Some return when they marry, have children and begin to look for additional stability but some never come back.

To plug the slow drain some churches have turned to big bands and big social programs but that hasn’t worked well and certainly has not solved the problem.

But the wow factor—expensive bands, charismatic preachers, elaborate social events—doesn’t come cheap. What’s more, many religious leaders worry that offering that kind of experience only encourages young people to think about “the attractional church,” the kind of place you go for entertainment but not for any long-term commitment.

So writes Naomi Schaefer Riley at the Wall Street Journal. Riley is examining  a new para-church movement which seeks to draw the young adults into services which promote a sense of unity among believers in Christ. One survey has 98% of respondents saying the CityOne movement  has brought them closer to a personal relationship with Christ. 42% say they have been helped to connect with local churches.

We want people to be attracted to Jesus. We want people to be drawn to the salvation that is in Christ alone (John 14:6). But it is essential that people be drawn to the true Christ which includes what he paid for with his blood, his church, and the entirety of his teaching (Acts 20:27-28). It is good to see people thinking more about Jesus. It is good to see people giving serious thought to their souls and their eternal home. The church must supply them properly with truth.

What is disappointing, however,  is that it takes a non church to do the work that should belong to the church itself.

Religious leaders ought be asking some very basic questions about our own decline. At the heart is a question about the heart. What do we believe and what do we teach? When any church moves away from the Bible as its single source of doctrine it always fails. When a church changes Biblical teaching in order to attract those outside, it fails. Evangelism is critical. Outreach is vital. Jesus said to go teach and baptize (Matthew 28:18-20). We teach and baptize while God adds them to the church (Acts 2:41, 47).

The church must be pure yet it seems the religious community has morphed into something that doesn’t look too  much like the original Christians. We have gone from worship services, a God centered service, to worship experiences which put the person at the center. We come to get something out of worship instead of putting something into worship.

It might be a good idea to examine what we are doing when the church assembles. There is only good in standing on the words of the Lord. Let us come back to the Bible alone as the source of our teaching. Let us refocus our worship toward God and not the creature (Romans 1:25).

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