Saturday, June 12, 2004

coming or going and mission

attractional vs missional: do people come to us or do we go to people: this is a false dualism.

sociologically – people are always coming and going. centre is edge and edge is centre and the journey is more interesting that the destination.

biblically – the bible shows times of attractional mission – I’m going up to Jerusalem or John 17, by love they know we are disciples or Acts 2; are you drunk?; and moments of missional mission; the end of Acts, the wandering of the prophet Jesus.

theologically – the triune God is both the embrace of the divine dance of love and the incarnational gift of love for the world.

the underlying principle is right – that Christendom is over. But the either/or dualism is unhelpful. mission must be missional in order to find Christ in new places. and mission can be attractional in a post-Christendom world. For example, building an alternative community of love – or standing up for the ethic of marriage while accepting that our world is pluralistic and tolerant of a range of sexual expressions.

Posted by steve at 12:58 PM


  1. I agree all the way from Malaysia … a non-Christendom context … the dualism doesnt help at all. I think it’s even harmful … Thanks for putting the both/and perspective forward!

    Comment by Sivin Kit — June 12, 2004 @ 5:54 pm

  2. Thanks for naming what I’ve always seen as a dualism…but wondered on account of contempory literature increasing emphasising the dualism…

    Comment by Paul — June 13, 2004 @ 12:14 pm

  3. this is a good thought… i found alan hirsch’s critique of church as attractional very challenging and i think it has a lot to make alt worship groups think about how they are missional. but i have struggled to get my head round it – there are lots of situations in the uk where attraction is a good thing – people come and relationships are built etc.. so the simple observation that people are coming and going is wonderful

    Comment by jonnybaker — June 13, 2004 @ 7:33 pm

  4. Yes – what Jonny said! exactly.

    Comment by maggi — June 13, 2004 @ 9:04 pm

  5. it seems to me the important ‘idea’, whether coming or going, is the incarnation (hirsch and frost challenge the dualism mentioned with a call from attractional to incarnational). incarnational mission will always subvert the dualism of coming/going. thanks for the conversation…

    Comment by geoff — June 14, 2004 @ 11:26 am

  6. not sure geoff – you might like to read an earlier post of mine – deconstruction of incarnation –

    Comment by steve — June 15, 2004 @ 5:44 pm

  7. thanks steve. i read through the post and find no contradiction with what i posted…not sure what you’re not sure about…is it my suggestion that “incarnational mission will always subvert…”? i agree that “the incarnation” is not in and of itself the solid rock it has been made out to be (it can also be warped and have warping effects…eg. “going native” is rarely a good thing, even if it’s possible). but incarnation wedded to a missiology steeped in hesed (with all the liminality and ambiguity that entails) has, in my experience, been the most penetrating subversion of the come/go dualism that has been so problematic. the point is, we are compelled to cross cultural boundries and invite people on that (dangerous/difficult/thrilling) journey of communitas. thanks again for the conversation…wonderfully stimulating!

    Comment by geoff — June 16, 2004 @ 5:19 am

  8. my point was that when i read hirsch, i see incarnation co-opted to = missional; at the expense of attraction. so for hirsch et al attraction=bad. hence my post on the dualisms, and the argument that attraction vs missional is a false dualism.

    Comment by steve — June 16, 2004 @ 10:15 am

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