Today Tim Chester did a biblical theology of the attractional church. Although it was pretty good biblical theology (i’d disagree with some of this interpretations of given texts, such as “kingdom of priests” as a missionary mandate), it was a bit long-winded. I came to Total Church with the hope of working through practical theology, missional ecclesiology, missional leadership development, etc. However, there have been some great take-aways peeping out at the end of the plenaries, Tim’s talk not excluded. I’ll blog on those later.
After disputing the false dichotomy between attractional and incarnational, Tim embarked on a biblical theology of mission. His contention was that a gospel-centered community is a community of people that attract the lost. While this is certainly sometimes the case, a gospel-centered community is also a community, no matter how kind, loving, and mercy-motivated, will receive rejection. Christ and his church are ultimately only effectually attractive to the elect. And what attracts unbelievers in a gospel-centered church is very different from what attracts unbelievers to an attractional church. And this raises an important distinction raised by Mike Gunn during the Q&A.:
Are we attracting people to a community that is gospel-centered (Tim Chester’s central point) or are we attracting them to the proclaimed Christ? This, is an important distinction, one that Tim was not willing to fully concede. Tim insisted that by attracting people to a community that is gospel-centered, people get to know and see the world of redemption, love, grace in a broken community. A rather optomistic read. Mike contended that the church is so broken that we should not try to attract people to a community first, but to Christ first, who is sufficient for our brokenness. Perhaps it’s two sides of the same coin, but which side do you want up? Heads or tails?