Seeker-Sense? Or Nonsense?
- Thursday, February 09, 2006
"The desire to be overly seeker-sensitive is pulling us away from proclaiming the hard truth of the Gospel. The Gospel is an offense! A righteous man was nailed to a cross. There was a beating involved, and blood shed. We must not water that down. We cannot compromise the reality of the Gospel under the guise of relevancy. Relevancy is earned when churches -- Christians -- acting as the hands of Christ, touch the wounded hearts and souls of those around them. When Christians act like Jesus, bear the burdens of others like Jesus, suffer with others like Jesus, then we will be more effective in verbally sharing the pointed truths of the Gospel with them like Jesus. What's more, the lost will drink in the message like a thirsty man wandering in a desert drinks in cool, clean water."
Why then, are many of our churches numbers-driven? Numerous friends in vocational ministry have spoken to me of their frustration. Those under their spiritual charge need discipleship, but they lack the time to provide it well since they are under pressure to provide proper programming - events and outreaches that will boost their numbers.
To some extent, there exists a suspicion and jealousy over the Megachurch model, where the prevailing sentiments say that all large churches do is entertain to evangelize, rather than training their members to go into the community and do it for themselves. But new research from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research suggests that most opinions of megachurches aren't accurate - that members there get fed, that true worship does occur, that it isn't all about money and/or numbers. So growth isn't necessarily an evil to be avoided. And even if misguided, can't youth programs that offer video games but keep kids busy in a safe environment still be beneficial? Don't we care that preaching only meat will alienate visitors whose level of biblical literacy hasn't advanced beyond formula?
John MacArthur recently decried the seeker-sensitive movement as: "The push within churches across the country to make worship services more "relevant" and therefore more attractive to the world. It's the driving force behind the marketing ploys and high-tech entertainment gimmicks churches use to promote growth. As you read this, you may be asking, ‘What's so dangerous about trying to attract unbelievers to your church?'" And in fact, one respondent named Tina said:
"I was raised in church; we just never stayed in the same church for more than a couple of years before moving onto a new church, and usually one with a new denomination. Because of this some of the lessons were familiar to me, but some of them were not. It was like going to a foreign language class where everyone was a year ahead of me… I have friends that have said they quit going to church because they felt so stupid in Sunday School…"
Imagine how unbelievers may feel. Another reader admits there at least needs to be some balance:
"Teachers come here from China to upgrade their methods and we have arranged classes to introduce them to the Bible. You have to dumb it down a little when they ask, "What is this word ‘Resurrection?' We've never heard that word." If you don't stop and clarify this they'll leave. But those who know will leave too if you spend too much time on the basics."
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