In the last 40 years we have seen a major change in Church structure. We have moved from the traditional Church model that we have used for the last 200 years to the attractional Church model.
Willow Creek Community Church founded by Bill Hybels in Chicago, IL in 1975 is generally considered the forerunner in the attractional church model. The attractional model is often called the seeker-friendly model. It is the fastest growing church model in America. Most of the largest churches are attractional. Attractional models emphasize programs, drama, quality messages, etc that attract unbelievers and others to your services. Both of these models – traditional and attractional – have their advantages and disadvantages that I won’t cover here.
I believe we are starting to see a third model being formed for the next generation of Christianity. This next model’s main advantage is to help make Christians into disciples and not just converts. I call this model relational. To become a disciple we have to from real relationships. First, with God and second with other like minded believers living in community together. This will require a church model change that facilitates developing these relationships. It will require structural changes to remove the barriers to intimacy with God and others.
Jesus is looking for people to interact with Him and not just hear about Him – a relationship. This is evidenced by the fact He is coming back for a Bride and not just servants. He is challenging us to be accountable to a group of believers. It’s only by walking and being accountable to others that maturity will occur. We are at the beginning of what I believe is a 40 year change over to this new model. We are getting some ideas of what it will look like but we won’t know how it all comes together for some time.
What does this mean for you? Don’t get comfortable, the best days for the church are coming, and they will be different. Be expectant, be hopeful, be ready to take a risk! Churches are evolving from traditional to attractional to relational because God is a relational God.