We have been told that we have to make the Church attractive to the man outside, and the idea is to become as much like him as we can… yet… the glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different for the world, she invariably attracts it…
Every revival proves that men who are outside the Church always become attracted when the Church begins to function truly as the Christian Church, and as individual Christians approximate to the description here given in these beatitudes.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount
In a world of attraction and promotion we’re often tempted to become like the culture around us in order to attract people to God and his Church. This can be stylistic: “if we only look like this, or feel like this experience…” Or moral: “if only we could ditch this unattractive teaching about sex or money…”
The paradoxical reality is that church actually attracts more when it is different. This was true for me in my early twenties. There were probably churches that could have offered sexual ethics or views on truth that would have already agreed with what I was swimming in in my culture. But it was the church that did not cater or cave, the one that was not afraid of being different or strange, that I found most real and life-giving. It was not by removing controversy or even in spite of it, but because of it that I came to God.