…and hopefully your spouse thinks that you are cute as well. In other words at some point (and hopefully even still) everyone is attracted to someone else and someone is attracted to you.
In all honesty most people react to this attractiveness in order to explore deeper things in a person, in products, in philosophies and in churches.
I have been reading the reaction to my friend Geoff Surratt’s blog post here and here and have given a little thought to this whole war of attraction model churches versus missional model churches as I ran 4 miles on the treadmill this morning.
The thing with attraction is that it is very subjective. If you have ever people-watched in the mall you know you have thought -"OK, how in the world did that happen". But apparently everyone is attractive to someone. That being the case I think that forcing a choice between attraction and missional in the church would be akin to forcing a choice between the courting process and the marriage relationship.
"We at the "Little Wedding Chapel of Love" believe so fully in marriage that we ask all singles in the church that you skip the attraction phase all-together and jump right to the marriage phase. We would like you to have deep talks with a women that you have never met, intimate moments with a dude whose last name you do not know and within one-hour tie that knot and start living the married life baby."
I think we would all say, "slow down Mr. Hunk-of-Burning-Love and lets be attracted to each other first. As I see it there is a four part process that happens spiritually for people and attraction in the Genesis (notice not the end or the goal, just the start) of the spiritual journey.
Phase One – We are attracted to a church. Because people are attracted to different things this is why some of us so quickly sit in our blog malls and church-watch and say "wow, that is one ugly church – how did they ever get hitched". But just remember someone is on the other side of the mall who is thinking the same thing about you. Every Church is attractive to someone.
After attraction comes more. Any relationship (with a person, a product a philosophy or a church) that is solely based on attraction will not yield much of a relationship at all. Spouses who marry for flesh alone do not serve one another, they do not give of themselves, they are takers and not gives. People who stay in the attraction stage at a church do not serve, give and are takers not givers. No matter what model you choose as a church there will be some who initially find you attractive but never move into community. In fact those who think different should read this right now. But many will move into community. Community is cool when you are dating. The word community is derived from the Greek word κοινωνία which is translated as "fellowship".
Community is when you find out more about the person, product or church and start to really share in life together. This is not salvation. Being in a small group is not the goal. Showing up to church, sharing meals with one another, even serving the poor and needy together and living life together is not the goal. But community is Phase Two in the relational and spiritual journey.
This is a sweet time. Most of us have been there with our spouses or someone we love. This is when we really get to know one another, but the commitment is still shallow. (I don’t see no ring on this finger) As this phase draws to an end the DTR moment comes.
DTR or "Define the Relationship" is the moment when a decision must be made. This could be asked like this, "where is this relationship going", or "what are we doing here".
As churches we must have DTR moments for people who have found Jesus attractive through his bride (us, the church) and have moved into community and now sit at this place of decision. This is why Jesus must be the hero of every story and message that we preach – someone is at a DTR moment in your church this weekend with Jesus. Challenge them.
This is the moment where we give people a chance to be saved by God by Grace and through Jesus Christ. This can not be done by or because of their attraction, but that obviously was the wooing of the Holy Spirit as there are no seekers but He alone seeks the lost, but by moving into the Third Phase: Redemption. Many will choose not to let God save them. If you do not believe this read this now.
Now most Christian stop here. We are saved by Grace and we bask at the feeding troth that is the local church age-appropriate programs and we get fat and happy on a meal of redemption manna. But this would be like a husband who finds a women attractive, woos her, gets to know her, loves her, marries her and then just stops everything and gets fat and takes her for granted and watches bay-watch re-runs in front of her. Bad example, that would never happen.
Phase four of the marriage relationship is to continue to serve your spouse, reproduce, make a difference in the world as a family and teach your children to do the same thing. I call this building a legacy.
Phase Four of the spiritual journey is no different – it is the Missional Restoration. As the bride of Christ we love Him, we serve Him and we reproduce ourselves through a life of restoration. This phase is letting Him continue to restore us and helping restore the world that He loves. Living in redemption makes a difference in the world and is the process of building a spiritual legacy.
And guess what – That’s attractive and missional.