What is happening to the church in America today? By all appearances, it looks like we are doing church better than we ever have. Our programs are effective, our pastors are relevant, and our buildings are increasing in size. In the past 30 years the number of mega-churches has increased from under 100 to over 7,500. In the past 10 years the number of multi-site churches has increased from under 100 to over 2,000. By the numbers, these church movements enjoy the national platform, the national voice, and the resources to profoundly impact the Kingdom. But to what end? In spite of the rapid growth of these prevailing church movements we are still losing ground, and the church in the west is in massive decline. Numerous studies and books have been written documenting the flight of members from the institutional church. Yet the local church is Jesus plan for reaching the world. The strength of the mega-church and multi-site models can be found in a strong emphasis on attracting people to the church, where they have an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ. Yet many younger leaders are rejecting this model in favor of a more incarnational approach to ministry. These missional communities tend to focus their attention on trying to release people into ministry. In recent years a growing schism has emerged between those calling themselves incarnational leaders and those leading the prevailing church models. But what if we were able to incorporate the insights of both models into a cohesive understanding of the church? Can we bring together the very best of the attractional AND missional models for church ministry? What is needed is not is another book about how to do church better. Our focus on the form church is misguided when the vast majority of unchurched Christians and non-believers arent moving toward any form of church. Beautifully Sent will give permission for leaders to value existing church forms while catalyzing a missional movement of incarnational people into the world.
Hugh Halter is the national director of Missio, serving as a mentor to a global network of missional leaders and church planters. He is lead architect of Adullam, a congregational network of missional communities in Denver, Colorado (www.adullamdenver.com), and is the coauthor of The Tangible Kingdom with Matt Smay.
Matt Smay serves as the director of the Missional Church Apprenticeship Practicum for Missio, where he works directly with church planters and existing church pastors as a mentor, coach, and consultant, and he is also a leader of Adullam. Matt lives near Denver, Colorado, with his wife, Maren, and daughter, Maegan. He is an avid golfer, loves mountain biking and fly-fishing, and enjoys the outdoors with his family.