Ryan Bell is hanging out at the Allelon Summer Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary talking about “missional leadership” and blogs about it today. See also Bill Kinnon, Brad Bergfalk (“The End of the Attractional Church“), and others.
Walt Kallestad of Community Church of Joy (ELCA) in Glendale, AZ, has been one of the speakers. He had been one of the gurus of the the “attractional church” model–he called it, “entertainment evangelism.” But he’s come to confess he took his church down a dead-end road.
Walt told us of a time where he sat in the back of his congregation tired and weeping, knowing that he had led the church down a road of consumerism and professionalism. Everything was apparently working at it’s technical best; people were coming to Christ and growing as disciples, yet his community was not being transformed, nor was he being transformed by his community. A few memorable quotes:
- Providing spiritual goods and services is not sustainable or biblical
- Consumers will consume you (the pastor)
- I would spend more time looking for Chicken Soup for the Soul stories than letting the word of God change me
Tonight, Walt shared the story of how he came to the realization that he had built a consumer-driven church (of multiple thousands, I might add) and something just wasn’t right. After a time of exploration and prayer as a result of a heart attack which came after building a new 200 acre campus, Walt came to the understanding that things had to change. He began a period of study and reflection and talked with many in ministry.
The end result of this journey was that he went to his staff and told them that they were moving from an attractional model to a missional model. He told his elders the direction his ministry must take, and told them, (paraphrase) “If this isn’t the way you sense the church needs to go, then I offer my resignation”. All the elders but 1 supported him. He stood before the church and repented of what he had done.
The result: they’ve had over 2000 people leave, and he’s alright with it. And it doesn’t bother him, because he understands that a missional model is a Biblical model, and his call is to be faithful to the scriptures. Anything outside the scriptures, he said, “is just your opinion.”
He talked about reclaiming Christ, starting with the scriptures and not culture, and re-forming the people for the new task at hand. He fired half of their staff in one day – they were not ready nor willing to make the move. They went from hiring excellence to raising up leaders and empowering them to experiment and fail.