Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Five Fold Ministry Goofs of the Seeker Sensitive Movement (Part 1)

Today is the start of a five part series on the errors/problems birthed out of "seeker sensitive" or "church growth" models of evangelism. Part I will run over the next 7 days and deal with quesions concerning when the congregational meeting becomes the model for evangelism. This series is not aimed at just criticism but also contrasting it with the biblical remedy. Here we go:
THE FIVE FOLD GOOFS OF THE “SEEKER SENSITIVE” CHURCH GROWTH MOVEMENT

“I believe in being seeker sensitive, it’s just that I only believe in one Seeker”
Paul Washer


After ten years of military service my brain was left tattooed with this imperative: my first priority should be my commanding officer’s last order. The same is true for the Church. Paul pointed out to Timothy “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him”[1]. Jesus Christ, our commanding officer, issued this final order “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”[2]. Evangelism is not only important, it is the reason that the Church exists today and why Christ delays His return and judgement[3].

No one questions the importance of evangelism. It is the issue of how it is defined and how it should be done that has become the crisis facing evangelical churches. One of the catch cries of modern times is “being relevant without compromising the message”. But beneath the rhetoric the question must still be asked as to whether the message has been compromised after all? We’ll get to that later.

The prevailing wind of influence among evangelical congregations in the new millennium seems to be that of what one might call a “consumer driven” approach to building a local church. This is when the “felt needs” of the “unchurched” within the local community exert a heavy influence over the way church meetings are conducted. This, of course, happens to varying degrees and no two fellowships are identical. But this philosophy has undoubtedly impacted on the approach many evangelical congregations use in their attempt to carry out the Great Commission.
I recently saw a “modern church” advertising itself by promising that one lucky first
time attender would win a car. Others try to draw the “unchurched” through the
doors by being “relevant” and “seeker sensitive” which is interesting considering
the Apostle Paul taught that “there is none who seeks after God”[4].
Sermons/messages in these “seeker sensitive” church meetings generally tend to
be (to varying degrees) tailored to the “unchurched” or non Christian’s personal
“felt” needs and level of understanding. This raises several questions that should
be asked in the light of Scripture.

1. What is a local church in the biblical sense?
2. What is the local church’s role in the work of evangelism?
3. Is the local church meant to grow by attracting the “unchurched”?
4. Is there a correlation between a non Christian’s “felt needs” and what they really need?
5. What is truly relevant to the non Christian?
6. Can the desire for relevance compromise the purity of the gospel itself?
To be continued - tomorrow : 1. What is the local church in the biblical sense?

[1] II Timothy 2:3-4
[2] Mark 16:15
[3] Matthew 24:14
[4] Romans 3:11


Go On To Part 2

1 comment:

Mark said...

Cameron,

This should be good. Awaiting your next installments!

God bless you!

in Christ and for His glory,

Mark