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'Come and See' or 'Go and Tell'?
by Tom Goodman
September 13, 2007

What's our job?  Should we tell people to "come to church"?  Or should we, as God's people "go and tell"?

A lot of people are writing about this these days, dismissing the so-called "attactional" approach to outreach and advocating a "missional" approach.  They contend that we abandon all efforts to invite people to experience the life and worship of a church body ("attractional") and instead simply live an authentic Christian life in our workplace and neighborhood ("missional").

It's either-or, according to many:  Either compel the community to "come and see" or compel the church to "go and tell."

Um....  Am I the only one who sees this as a false dichotomy?  People veer off course in the whole "missional versus attractional" debate the moment they actually think the word "versus" belongs between those two words.

Should I build a genuine relationship with my neighbors?  Yep.  Should I live an authentic Christian life in their presence?  Yep.  Should I serve them?  Yep.

But now, keep going:  Should I bring my neighbors to sit in with my Bible study group and listen to us believers wrestle with the implications of the text?  Yep.  Should I invite my neighbors to the church ski retreat?  Yep.  Should I pray and work toward the time my neighbors begin to sit with me in a service where real worship is taking place?  Yep.  Should I enlist my neighbors' help on a church mission trip?  Yep.

The point is:  Of course we should be "in the world" building relationships with our THEMs, but we're not "doing church" right if we don't spontaneously and naturally want to bring someone with us to experience our congregation's life and study and worship.

We've gotten this silly idea that only believers would really care about what we do as a church.  But if we have a church where people are doing all the stuff that a real church ought to be doing -- praying for each other, serving each other, forbearing each other, worshipping God, challenging each other with the Word -- well, wouldn't that be absolutely the best environment for the spiritually curious to see the life-changing difference Christ makes?  As Jonathan Leeman points out at the 9Marks site, "The church should be attractive.  In fact, this new-covenant, Holy-Spirit-indwelled community of love, holiness, and unity should be the most attractive people of all!"

Ed Stetzer said, "When we train people to reach out (go and tell) to friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers and the community at large, we often encourage them to invite others to some church event (come and see) where they can experience some sense of Christian community and hear the Gospel."

So, does Jesus want us "out there" with people or does he want us bringing people into the Christian community where we share life together?



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