I am at the National New Church Conference in Orlando, Florida this week. I arrived a day earlier to attend a Pre-Conference Intensive on “Attractional AND Incarnational Church Planting.” Sally Morgenthaler is moderating a panel with Darrin Patrick, Alan Hirsch, Greg Hawkins and Neil Cole. They’ve tried really hard not to create sparks and controversy by making this a discussion of which is a better: the attractional approach vs. the incarnational approach.

Unfortunately, there were some technical issues that made it difficult as they got started. Overall, it was an interesting discussion as each speaker explained their perspectives on ministry that is incarnational.

Here are some quotes to ponder:

Greg Hawkins

“If you are just trying to attract to get big – that’s nasty.”
“I’ve been around too many people who focus on ‘how big is your church?'”

Neil Cole

“The problem is that we’ve defined maturity wrongly. More knowledge doesn’t mean more mature. Maturity comes from living a life of radical obedience.”
Definition of a disciple: “Dead Man Walking. It begins with death.” A disciple is “someone who surrenders everything to follow Christ.”

Alan Hirsch

“Drop the word evangelism and get involved in disciplemaking.”
“It’s not that you ought not be attractive. Christianity ought to be attractive, but its about one’s missionary stance in regard to the culture. Attractional is an approach that says ‘Come to us.'”
“You can’t consume your way into discipleship.”
“We live in a capitalistic nation and we have a consumerist church.”

Darrin Patrick

Definition of Attractional
– “using buildings, technologies, gifts, leadership…to proclaim the gospel.”
Definition of Incarnational
– “Christians living out the gospel in their cultural context like Jesus who tabernacled among us.”

I did my best to write down some of the things that I found interesting. I hope it gives you something to think about. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t address how to plant an incarnational church or how to plant an attractional church = maybe that will be covered more tomorrow.

I enjoyed the discussions at our table with Chris, Keith and Michelle. I was also challenged by a pastor from Nigeria who said – “Fire begets fire. You will only produce what you are like.”