The typical attractional church model costs too much to multiply effectively. Buildings, budgets and bigshots are the roadblocks to reproduction of churches. Salaries, rents/mortgages, equipment, advertising the list of expenses is long. In today’s turbulent times many in church are feeling the resources drying up. Last week I was in a pastor’s meeting and many were wondering how their churches would continue. Some were selling their facilities just for survival. We will see more and more of this in the coming year.
Survival is one thing, but reaching a city proactively is another entirely. I have seen a report of research to determine what it would take to reach the US. In the report the financial costs to reach particular cities for Christ using the traditional attractional model of church are listed. The results are alarming. Just to reach one city alone would be astronomical. The study shows that to reach Atlanta would cost over $63 billion. To reach New York City alone would cost more $418 Billion. Where would we expect such money to come from? I guarantee you the government is not going to bail us out on this one.
Giving USA, a non-profit foundation that studies philanthropy in the United States, in its 2008 report found $103.32 billion went to houses of worship and denominational organizations in 2007. That entire amount could only reach the greater Washington DC area and would leave the rest of our country lost. But of course, if it did go to that cause it would not cover any of the costs of all our current churches and ministries and they would all go out of business. This says nothing of reaching the rest of the world.
If you want to compare the attractional model against the organic/missional model of church I think the cost alone makes it clear which is a more reasonable approach.
This is just not a good way to reach a city for Christ, let alone a world. There are better ways. We could reach the cities faster and for a fraction of the cost with a simpler approach to church.
What we need to be about is the reproduction of healthy disciples, leaders, churches and movements, in that order. We cannot focus on complex and expensive systems and try and reproduce them if we do not first reproduce the simple and more basic entities first. We do not start churches to make disciples. We must make disciples, and then churches will start. It doesn’t cost a dime to make a disciple, it only costs your life.