For those who have grown up around an attractional church, it’s a totally different set of metrics for success. It’s a different way of thinking about what it means to be a successful pastor. Attractional churches tend to attract very different leadership personalities than a “missional” expression of church. A different kind of pastor thrives in each.
It can be disturbing for a pastor who’s developed his or her whole identity around having people come to church rather than sending them out. The attractional church is about getting people to buy into and serve the pastor’s vision. It’s not all bad, but church should be about the pastors (plural) serving the vision that God has put in the people, as described in Ephesians 4:11-12: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
That requires a fundamental shift. Are we getting people to help us do our thing, or are we figuring out how to equip and empower people to live their calling?
Five years ago we would have defined a successful pastor as somebody who works their butt off and has people with them constantly. Now we gauge it by asking, “When was the last time a nonbeliever asked you over for a beer? Did you get invited to Christmas parties in the neighborhood last year? Is your family healthy? How many missional communities have you started? Have many people have you released to do stuff outside of the church? Are you cultivating people’s understanding of their vocation and calling?” It’s a different metric system. And it’s deeply disturbing for most pastors.
I think one of the reasons that the church is so non-missional, is because pastors are typically non-missional. We are often the most insulated, sub-cultured people in the world.