Over 25 years ago, when I graduated from Bible college, I went into a world where attractional ministry was the norm. Churches would do things to attract people to enter their building. They would hold big events, have give-a-way Sundays, get a special speaker, or do just about anything to get people to walk in the door.
This was not just true for Sunday morning but was used the most in youth ministry. The youth leader would play games, go on trips, and spend every extra dollar to get people to attend their group meetings. Some groups and Churches went to extreme lengths to attract people to their events.
Through the years, the mindset has shifted dramatically. Most Churches today speak of going out and serving their community with the hope of making an impact. Their service would then lead people to a life-changing relationship with Jesus.
I am not a prophet from God, but I have one prediction for the Church. I believe that ministry is going to become attractional again. However, this time the attraction will be different. In the early days of ministry, people were drawn to contemporary music, fog machines, candles, and fun. I think the return to attractional ministry will be a quest for people to find genuine relationships. People will seek places to find connections and community with other people.
Individuals can find almost anything online spiritually. They can find the best preacher and videos of his best sermons. Then they can listen to excellent worship music recorded professionally by extremely gifted singers. They can give online. They can even take communion at home with a little travel cup sealed for their health and convenience they bought at Amazon. However, there is one thing online people will not be able to find adequately online: Human relationships.
Sure, they can have friends online and share a virtual connection. But these interactions lack the dynamics that make friendships special. I heard a preacher one time say that Jesus was continually offering three things: a look, a kind word, and a touch of his hand. These are things you cannot get online in the same way you can in person.
The Church stands at a place where it has more appeal than it has in years. It can attract people to come and hear about Jesus simply by offering people the relationships they desire. This will be true on Sunday morning, in small groups, and even in youth ministry.
People long for a community where they can experience human connection. In a world like that, we will once again see the true beauty and wisdom of the Church.