7 Reasons Why I Believe in Attractional Evangelism

Today’s guest post comes to us from Chuck Lawless. Chuck is the Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The topic of attractional evangelism, which I define as “seeking to attract people to church, often through big events” garners much discussion. Some stand by it as a primary, effective, almost necessary means of evangelism in a culture that doesn’t want to hear the gospel. Others reject it as a man-centered, simplistic evangelistic method that waters down the gospel and leads to weak churches.

I agree that attractional approaches can be man-centered and can, frankly, ignore personal evangelism. On the other hand, I’m unwilling to throw out the proverbial “baby with the bathwater.” Here’s why:

  1. Done well, attractional evangelism is only one tool in the church’s evangelistic toolbox. It’s when it becomes the only tool that I get most concerned.
  2. Its motivation is usually a genuine desire to reach people for Christ. Sure, it often leads to only transfer growth, with far too little attention to disciplemaking—but that’s not what I’m describing here. Effective attractional evangelism can be motivated by an honest cry for lost people to know Jesus.
  3. It pushes churches to think about excellence. I’ve never heard a church using attractional evangelism say, “Well, it doesn’t matter if we want to do things in a mediocre way.” Typically, they understand the need to do things well—first, for God’s glory, and second, to attract and keep people.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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