FM pastors have been doing some e-dialogue on how to measure whether our churches "have got something, or got nothing" (as Letterman would say). [it's also annual report time, a definite something that pastors hate to do!]
anyway... I've got a couple comments from Gailyn van Rheenen, a prof at Abilene Christian Univeristy. I read her website every so often missiology.org. Here she's contrasting the church growth and missional paradigms:
Missional churches define themselves as bodies formed by the calling and sending of God and reflecting the redemptive reign of God in Christ. They are unique communities in the world created by God through the Spirit as both holy and human. Missional leaders, likewise, reflect the calling and sending of God. They minister with humility recognizing themselves as “jars of clay” who finitely seek to enter into what God is already doing in his world.
The missional approach to ministry stands in obvious contrast to the traditional Church Growth perspective. Church Growth thinking has brought much to the practice of foreign and domestic missions. Donald McGavran, the father of Church Growth, encouraged missionaries to personally minister among unbelievers rather than attempt to draw people into Western-style mission enclaves or mission stations. He rightly emphasized the missionary nature of the local church and the need for pioneer evangelism among peoples ready to hear the gospel. He called for the incisive evaluation of missions. Above all, he taught us to employ tools from the social sciences to analyze culture and to use this analysis to develop penetrating strategies for reaching both searchers and skeptics with the gospel of Christ.
The seeds of syncretism, however, were rooted in the very principles of cultural analysis and strategy formation employed by this movement. Practitioners succumbed unintentionally to the humanistic suppositions of the Modern Era. Assuming that they could chart their way to success by their ingenuity and creativity, Church Growth practitioners focused on what humans do in missions rather than on what God is doing. They saw the missional task as setting goals, developing appropriate methodologies, and evaluating what does or does not work rather than seeking God's will based upon biblical and theological reflection. Their thinking segmented the gospel and practice, the human and divine into two compartmentalized worlds, and practice was developed on the basis of “what works” rather than the will and essence of God. Christian leaders placed more emphasis on developing effective strategy than forming communities shaped in the image of God. Although they advocated faithfulness to God, the system they proposed was based on human intelligence and ingenuity.
she's got an interesting comparison chart in the actual article.