This is the third post in a series on attractional versus incarnational forms of ministry. You can see the previous posts here:
In any discussion of methodologies in mission, we have to at least mention the terms centripetal and centrifugal, and how they relate to ministry. I was taught Old Testament mission was centripetal in nature — that all other nations were to be drawn to Israel and their God — a sort of attractional ministry (on a national level). I was also taught that God’s chosen strategy for mission changed in Christ’s coming — to become centrifugal in nature, as we are now called to “go and make disciples of the nations” (a more incarnational approach).
Personally, I don’t buy this — granted I’m no Old Testament expert and scholar; so keep that in mind as you read the following thoughts: I believe God has always intended the same method for mission in the world: an incarnational approach. An individual disciple is to live Christ into the community in such a way that others are drawn to, and glorify, God. A family is the building block of society that lives Christ into that society in such a way that other families are drawn to, and glorify, God. A church is a subset of a larger community that lives Christ into that community in such a way that other subsets of the community are drawn to, and glorify, God. The nation of Israel was a nation (exceptional in that there are no “Christian” nations today) that was to live God into the world in such a way that other nations would be drawn to, and glorify, God.
In the name of our God, we’d like to invite you to our annual Fall Festival. There will be carnival rides and games — and even a dunking booth! Of course we’ll have several inflatable bouncy toys for the kiddies, and a great lineup of food vendors, with everything from corn-dogs, burgers, and Gefilte fish to funnel cakes, fried snickers, and matzo pudding.
We’re excited this year to have Moses and his Divided Seas Band back with us for their second straight appearance. Also on schedule, and a must-do for every little boy, are our dradle games and brick-making competitions. As always, the event is free to all our neighboring nations in an effort to get to know you better. Remember, you’ve always got a friend in Israel.
The loving Israelite family at Jerusalem
P.S. — Due to the nature of this event, and in order to cater to the preferences of such a diverse group of attendees, it has been our tradition to ask those in attendance NOT to wear Halloween costumes. While we know this is customary for some groups, we hope that you can help us make this a family event, in which everyone can be comfortable. We hope to see you here!
Never did Israel invite the Egyptians, Philistines, Midianites, or Moabites to a Fall Festival or Super Bowl Party. Nor did they host VBS or Trunk-or-Treat in efforts to get all the international children into their Family Life Center. They didn’t use functions and events in order to share the good news of the one true God with their neighbors. Nor was that what God intended. Rather, he called Israel to be a peculiar people who acted in peculiar ways, and in plain view of all the other nations. They were to be a people who were visibly and unmistakably different. Other nations would be drawn to them and to their God, but this would come as a result of living Godly lives among those nations.
If we’re living conspicuously spiritual lives everywhere we go, we’ll no longer need to entice our neighbors with exciting events, in hopes of engaging them in a God dialogue once inside our buildings. Transformed lives in a broken community will naturally create these dialogues as a result of an authentic witness in the real world.