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The Problem with Seeker Friendly Churches

  • Ryan Duncan
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  • 2013 Aug 19
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“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” or so Newton’s laws of motion tell us. Granted, Newton was referring to physics and not Christian bloggers when he penned those famous words, but I’ve found the same principles apply in both cases, especially when the subject is the modern church. Ever since Rachel Held Evans published her essay, Why Millennials are leaving the Church, the internet has been flooded with responses by Christians about the state of the Church and “how” or “if” it should be fixed. Most recently, Chuck Lawless released a provocative new article titled, Eight Confessions of Church Spies, which detailed how Lawless had sent “spies” into various churches to report how well they provided for visitors. The results were what many Christians had come to expect, “boring”, “unfriendly”, “not equipped to handle my needs”.

Lawless argued that these churches would never grow if they didn’t start adapting to the temperament of new believers. Which brings us to this article by Bill Blankschaen, Why I Left Your Seeker-Friendly Church. Unlike Lawless, Blankschaen takes the opposite stance on this issue, believing that churches who spend all their effort trying to please newcomers end up forsaking the gospel entirely. This turns the church into a social club, more concerned with appearance than with God’s ultimate truth. Take the following paragraph for example,                    

“The Gospel looks stupid to seekers. Deal with it. Like Paul said above, it’s all foolishness until the Spirit opens their eyes. All too often, your church feels more like a middle school cafeteria than a church storming the gates of hell. It’s as if the message is “Won’t you please like us, pretty please! Let’s connect on Facebook – BFF LOL!” We should expect the gospel light to be offensive to those in darkness – not us, the gospel. Jesus warned us that would be the case. So why are we so focused on creating an environment that makes those who are perishing feel comfortable?”

As a millennial myself, I’ve had a great deal of first-hand experience with this issue. I’ve attended a dozen different churches in a dozen different areas over the course of my life, and here’s a little secret from my time with them: None of them were perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect church, the Bible tells us so in Romans 3:23. No matter where you go, you’ll eventually find the chapel is too cold, the dress code too stiff (or too lenient), the singles ministry too be poor, maybe they spend no time welcoming new people, or do nothing but welcome people. What I’ve noticed, both about myself and other Christians, is that when we find something in our church we don’t like, we leave.

Yes, we leave and try to find a new Church that is just right for us. But what if we didn’t leave? What if, instead of trying to find a place that fits us just right, we tried to change things? Do you feel your church isn’t doing enough to welcome newcomers? Why not stand at the door, become a greeter?

Is its childcare lacking? Why not volunteer for Sunday school? Maybe you think the sermons aren’t asking the tough questions, compile a list and talk to your pastor. Is the room too cold? Ask if you can turn up the heat!

God desires us to be reflections of his image, that means we are the ones who have to change. If you want to change the church, become the change you wish to see.

*Ryan Duncan is the culture editor for Crosswalk.com

**This Article first published 8/19/2013