I have always wondered how to get people to like church. That is probably because I am a church planter and I want to see the churches that are planted grow and become noticeable in their community. I have a special interest by nature of what I know my purpose in life is at this point in my life. But what about people who don't consider themselves lead pastors of a church plant?
Those Christians who tend to argue that church is primarily for the Christian usually want the content to be about "Christian" things. They want to get into "the deeper things of the faith". They want to talk about theological intricacies, controversial social issues, and "grow in their faith." Many of these things are great things. Some of these things are not. I love theology, I love debate, I love arguing through a point that might not be so clear in Scripture. I love the search for truth - godly truth. There is a place for it on Sunday mornings in the right context. But is that what church is about? Jesus kept complex things very simple. So should the church. Notice I did not say that Jesus kept simple things simple. He kept complex things simple. So the church must teach complex things but in a simple way that can be related to every day life in their context.
Those Christians who tend to argue that church is primarily for outreach don't want to talk theology. They usually want to leave sin in the small group. They don't want to hear about politics (rightfully so!), they would rather never hear about money (let's keep that private), and they only want the church to gloss over sin in generalizations. None would ever admit to this. What they really want is for people to hear about Jesus, but they tend to want it done in a watered down way so as not to offend. They want to keep simple things simple. Again, these are good intentions and I understand a bit of a generalization.
How is a church to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in it's entirety and yet still be attractional, missional, relevant or be of consequence to the community? They must teach complex things in a simple way. The question answers the question. The church must preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in it's entirety. I believe that the most attractional thing for a church is the Gospel and the Gospel Community. A church where the members are captured, compelled and committed to the Gospel is a church where community flourishes, where sinners are welcome, where people are forgiven, where joy reigns and Christ is King. People, whether believer or unbeliever, will come to a church where there is joy. Jesus Christ brings joy. I am not talking about canned joy - I am talking about real Christian joy that can only be found in knowing Jesus Christ.
These are the communities of believers that I see thriving. When Christians are not captured by the Gospel they come to church expecting nothing, they attend small group out of habit, and they sometimes participate in outreach because their wife made them do it. When Christians are captured by the Gospel it is contagious. Unbelievers want to be a part of that. They want to know why you changed.
You see, humans see through hypocrisy. When someone hears about how great Jesus is and how wonderful the Gospel is and they finally take the time to come to church and see a congregation that is listless a preacher who is either scared of the Gospel or bored with Gospel, they don't want any part of it. Who would?
Church really is a party when the people at the party realize with all of their heart that they are taking part in an event that means something. Church is a place where people can realize they mean something to God. He proved it with Jesus Christ. A church captured by that proof will be for unbelievers and believers alike. Only the unbelievers, by God's grace, won't stay that way for long.