Incarnational Practice 6: Limit Through-Traffic

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : August 13, 2005

Today, I’m going to list a 6th incarnational practice.  These practices are merely illustrative.  Take them for what they are.  I think if everyone did more things like this, the church would be healthier.  However, they aren’t meant to be straight-jackets.  They are supposed to open up new possibilities. 

This final practice is the hardest to do for those who want to cultivate incarnational ministry while still maintaining an "attractional" style as well.  These arent’ two complementary approaches, they are two different foundations for doing church.  Incarnational churches start with the assumption that they must go to where people are at.  Attractional churches may do some incarnational things, but they are ultimately trying to bring people in.  You can not have a church effectively built upon both approaches.

And so, if you want to be incarnational, you have to limit the "attractional" things you do.  It is easier to have more people if you are attractional.  But if you get alot of people who come without being incarnational, your church may loose its incarnational flavor. Furthermore, if you are building relationships with cynical people who have been neglected and abandoned in the past, the worst thing is to get a bunch of people moving in and out of attendance, building relationships with folks, and then breaking it off when they no longer find the church attractive.   And so, you have to decide that you won’t "grow" your church by attracting people from all over to come to your funky service.  You need to decide taht you’re going to "grow" your church incarnationally.

You may do some modest attractional things (like community announcements of events).  But be careful.  Be articulate with your vision.  And continue to labor in the fields.

Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

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