Extreme, But SERIOUS Mind Vitamin…or “Soccer Sunday”

I’ll get to the mommies & mimosas in a second, okay?

The deal is that I’m reading The Shaping of Things to Come, by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch. The subtitle is “Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church.” If you’ve ever heard the phrase “missional” regarding churches, this book was on the forefront of that verbage/mindset.

I know.

I know.

Whenever I dive into a “professional” reading discussion, many of you turn around, exit the Diner, and wait for a discussion of almost anything else. Wait. Wait. Wait. I think you’ll like this discussion.

But, this book is blowing my tiny mind, man. Granted, I’m late to the party (it’s almost 9 years old now) but the stuff the authors were talking about have proven to be dead-on in my experience.

So, thought I’d give you a taste of what’s blowing my tiny mind, man (even though I’m only halfway through the book). Early on, the authors describe the current situation in the American church–

–and the word they use is “attractional.” The idea is that they describe as “An approach to Christian mission in which the church develops programs, meetings, services or other ‘products’ in order to attract unbelievers into the influence of the Christian community.”

–the suggestion as to what the church should be is “missional.” They describe that as “A missional church is one whose primary commitment is to the missionary calling of the people of God. As such, it is one that aligns itself with God’s missionary purposes in the world.”

Here’s the quote for today (oh yes, we will be discussing this more in the days to come):

“Nonetheless, when we say it is a flaw for the church to be attractional, we refer more to the stance the church takes in its community. By anticipating that if they get their internal features right, people will flock to the services, the church betrays its belief in attractionalism. It’s like the Kevin Costner character in the film ‘Field of Dreams’ being told by a disembodied voice, ‘If you will build it, they will come.’ How much of the traditional church’s energy goes into adjusting their programs and their public meetings to cater to an unseen consituency? If we get our seating, our parking, our children’s program, our preaching, and our music right, they will come. This assumes we have a place in our society and that people don’t join our churches because, though they want to be Christians, they’re unhappy with the product. The missional church recognizes that it does not hold a place of honor in its host community and that its missional imperative compels it to move out from itself into that host community as salt and light.”

Now, this reality of this quote was highlighted to me on Soccer Sunday.

My higher-order life-liver sister Jilly and barnstorming brother-in-law get together with their friends on Sunday mornings. They set up some soccer goals in a local park and throw some soccer balls out there and their toddlers can kick ’em around or play on the monkey bars or swings at the park. Another parent sets up a table & breaks out the orange juice & champagne.

Then the hanging out commences. There is some minor kid-wrangling going on. But by-and-large, community is taking place.

These people are all intelligent, funny and interesting. They are all professionally successful by whatever stretch of that definition you’d like to use.

And their Sunday morning consists of mimosas and conversation in the park. Having been filled in beforehand that I was a pastor, the obvious conversation-starter was whether or not I was enjoying a “Sunday among the heathens.” Their words.

And in very matter-of-fact terms (they certainly were interested in my line of work and asked lots of questions, too) they described their issues with “Church.” They’d all tried it in various forms and had varying degrees of positive and negative experiences. They weren’t angry or bitter, but to them, the negatives outweighed the positives.

Nobody…

…and I mean NOBODY…

…disliked Soccer Sunday. It was overwhelmingly positive.

And it dawned on me:

It wouldn’t matter how good our worship leader is.
It wouldn’t matter how much charisma and/or passion our pastor had.
It wouldn’t matter how comfy our auditorium was or how good the coffee is.
It wouldn’t matter how awesome our children’s area was.

These people aren’t coming.

Sure, other Christians might come and check us out and see our cool worship leader/preacher/playland/building might be. Some might even stay and become part of our church family.

But, trust me. The Mimosa & Mommies crowd isn’t coming.

And the question struck me amidst all the laughs and kid-wrangling and great time I was having…

…what would it take to get these folks to be a part of a faith community centered around Christ?

And I think that’s what is at the heart of the quote, and at the heart of the book.

So, this could be fun today, patrons.

Have at it!

*rubs hands together and waits expectantly for you to join the conversation*