“What kind of church is Ingleside?” someone asks today. “Do you all have a ‘missional’ mindset? Or, do you still embrace more of an ‘attractional’ model of doing church?”
A few years ago, these same questions might have been asked using a different vocabulary. “Do you believe the church should mainly ‘go and tell’? Or, do you believe the church should primarily invite others to ‘come and see’?”
Sometimes the implication by the questioner is that one of these approaches is more virtuous, spiritual, and others-oriented, while the other is more self-focused, unspiritual, and consequently, less laudatory.
A careful look at Scripture, however, reveals that the questioner may well be presenting us with a false dichotomy. As always, we should ask: what does the Bible say?
Go and tell. The most famous “go” passage in the Bible is probably found in Matthew 28. We sometimes call it “The Great Commission.” It’s when Jesus said to his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19, ESV). Similarly, in one of his parables of the kingdom, the master says: “Go out to the highways and hedges” (Luke 14:23, ESV). Clearly, disciples of Jesus must “go” with the gospel.
Come and see. Yet, when we look at how Jesus called his first disciples and how the gospel spread, we encounter “come and see” language. In response to the question of his first followers, Jesus said: “Come and you will see” (John 1:39, ESV). Similarly, after Philip followed Jesus, he told the good news to Nathanael. When Nathanael raised questions, Philip said: “Come and see” (John 1:46, ESV).
Could it be that we are to do both? Could it be that God expects us to “go and tell” so that others will “come and see”? Could it be that the church is to “scatter” with the gospel so that others may “gather” with us in Jesus’ name?
Look at Luke 14:23 carefully. Why are we to “go out to the highways and hedges”? The rest of that verse gives us the answer. It says: “to compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.”
Bottom line: don’t be confused by some of the well-intentioned, but misguided perspectives that have gained currency in some quarters of evangelicalism today. It is biblical, wise, and God-honoring for us to be both missional (“go and tell”) and attractional (inviting others to “come and see”). That’s the way God makes disciples and builds the church – all for His great glory!