Seeker-Sense? Or Nonsense?
- Thursday, February 09, 2006
Quantity, or quality? Nearly every aspect of our lives is impacted in some way by this decision. Are you an extrovert who prefers a great number of acquaintances, or an introvert who favors a few close friendships? Do you go for a gallon of bargain-brand ice cream, or do you settle for nothing less than a pint of premium?
Today's Church makes a similar decision when it settles on a model for preaching, teaching, Sunday School, and Bible study. The direction your congregation takes may have a lot to do with a "Chicken or the Egg"-style dilemma. That is, does quantity breed quality, or is it the other way around?
In other words, will growing a church's numbers by tickling a few ears, singing catchy tunes, and avoiding Bible passages the World doesn't like yield us, through sheer numbers, enough of a crop of committed disciples to get the Lord's work done? Or will a church grow if the Christians in it are fed Biblical meat, trained to evangelize, and leave sermons feeling challenged?
Does the Bible mandate that we build the Church one way or the other? What does the average seeker expect to see and hear when visiting a church, and how much do we owe it to them to provide it?
It's not a new debate, but one that Salem Web Network's Communities Manager Fred Alberti tapped into as the lead-in to his weekly newsletter. Fred wrote:
In a recent seminar I learned that in order to double one's Sunday School class size the teacher should avoid presenting a lesson that has too much depth. It was felt that if the lesson was too deep that new visitors would feel overwhelmed and would be less likely to return. This really bothered me. Are we to strive to water down the Word of God in order to obtain members with a shallow faith who, when faced with the trials of life, have no root to stand in adversity? I'm sure there is a place for a class devoted to seekers but I think we should all be striving to grow past the milk and obtain the more meaty substance of God's Word. What part does the seeker-sensitive service/class play in today's world?
To say he received a few responses would be an understatement. Most respondents agreed with Fred, like Lauren from Georgia:
"The seminar you mentioned is why we left our last church. When they added video games to the 1st-4th grade Sunday School, we explained that our kids were not allowed to play them. The comment we got back was that video games are what's needed to reach ‘today's kids.'"
Dave Quinn shares:
"I don't know anyone off the top of my head who went to a seeker-friendly service and stayed long term. Most people I know wanted to go to church and went because it was church! I think with Sunday School we need to teach as God tells us to teach. He knows what is needed for the kids and the community. I would rather teach 10 kids that stayed faithful and remembered me when they were older, than teach 50 kids intermittently!"
And lest you think such opinions are relegated to the world of online forums, James T. Draper, the retiring president of Lifeway Christian bookstores recently added this fuel to the fire in his final column for The Baptist Press:
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