To most Christians, calling their church seeker-friendly is the theological equivalent to a yo’ mama joke. Seriously though, what on Earth is wrong with a stadium packed with tens of thousands of potential converts? Nothing really, if it’s done right. The biggest complaint I’ve heard over the years is that churches like this is they water down the message of the Gospel to the point of becoming a feel-good motivational speech. People have itching ears and they’ll flock to anyone who will tell them what they want to hear right? These mega churches must be filled with false believers, there’s no way this many people could possibly believe the truth right? Let’s be honest with ourselves, we know of churches that are massive while holding to solid doctrine as well as small dying churches that teach a watered down feel-good message. So if the size of the church doesn’t make it seeker-friendly, what does? Let’s take a look at the definition.
Seeker-sensitive adj. As in seeker-sensitive approach; seeker-sensitive church; seeker-sensitive (church) service; seeker-sensitive model; seeker-sensitive movement; seeker-sensitive worship. Having been designed to be appealing and understandable to potential converts (who are sometimes called *seekers) who have no previous experience with church culture (that is to say, they are *unchurched).
Synonyms: *seeker-friendly; *seeker-comprehensible.
The intended audience of a church service that is seeker-sensitive, seeker-friendly, or seeker-comprehensible is a mix of both Christians and unchurched potential converts. By contrast, the intended audience of a church service that is *seeker-centered, *seeker-driven, *seeker-directed, *seeker-focused, *seeker-oriented, or *seeker-targeted is primarily unchurched potential converts. (See *seeker-driven for more information about this second group of terms.) (https://www.dictionaryofchristianese.com/seeker-sensitive-seeker-friendly-seeker-driven-seeker-oriented/)
Even looking at an objective definition of the seeker-friendly movement, there still doesn’t appear to be anything nefarious about it. It’s rather sincere in fact. Once again, is there anything wrong with having a desire to reach the world for Jesus Christ?
The problem arises when we put the conditions of salvation in the hands of a sinner by catering to their excuses, such a thing will only sabotage the work of the Gospel.
Obviously there’s something holding them back from coming to know Christ and we ought to do what we can to help remove that obstacle. The problem is we can’t remove anything from anyone else’s life, they have to do it themselves. We know this to be true, so we preach the Gospel. We confront them with their sin, we charge them to repent of it and most importantly we urge them to trust in Christ as the only means of salvation. The common responses are, “You’re so filled with hate!” “Don’t force your religion on me!” “It’s not ok to judge people!” to name a few. In my experience and the experience of pretty much every Christian who has ever shared their faith have heard these before. It’s not that we’re doing anything we’re accused of, it’s just that they don’t want to be confronted with their sin. Let’s face the facts here, sin is ugly, therefore a sinner seeing their sin for the first time can be rather traumatizing. Of course they’re going to lash out. Of course they’re going to do whatever they need to do to get back to being comfortable again. That’s where these excuses really come from, whatever it takes to silence the Gospel. However, the seeker-friendly movement is based on the notion that these are legitimate issues rather than pathetic excuses made by sinners to justify their sin. As a result, Christians have begun listening to this nonsense and adopting a method that keeps the sinner nice and comfortable in church.
Letting sinners tell Christians how they’re supposed to live as Christians is as ridiculous as someone who has never watched a single boxing match in his life tell the heavyweight champion of the world how to perfect his jab. Sinners have no business telling us how to save them. They don’t know anything about their condition before the Lord and they are blind to the things of God. The only thing that can save a wretched sinner is the Power of God unto salvation that is in Jesus Christ, not our catering to their whims. So why are we listening to their objections and catering to their complaints? Did you ever think for a second that maybe the only reason a sinner will tell you what they expect from a church in order for them to attend is to sabotage the power of your preaching? It’s not a nice thing to say, but to quote my ministry partner John let’s call a spade a spade and admit this approach sucks the wind out of the Gospel. Sinners who don’t repent of their sin will always look for ways to stay comfortable in their sin. If we let them do that in our churches, say goodbye to Biblical preaching.
Finally, the last problem with the seeker-friendly approach is that it alienates those of us who are called to actively share our faith inside the church and outside the church. Those same objections we hear from sinners are put through an ultra-spiritual filter and recycled for continued use on us. “Oh, we don’t want to pressure anybody…” “We just want to love on everyone…” “We’re not here to force anything on anyone, we just let everyone come as they are…” Isn’t that nice? I hear it from both non-believers and believers alike! It’s not intentional most of the time, but passive evangelism doesn’t allow room for the active. To not allow any pressure on people means we can’t talk about what needs to be talked about. And seriously, if you don’t want to scare them away at various activities, when are you going to get around to talking about these things with them? If they’re going to leave a BBQ because of it, they’re going to leave the congregation if it’s preached from the pulpit. Why not go ahead and cut to the chase? Active evangelism, however, does allow for passive in its proper place. You see, if Christians go out and preach the Gospel to the community around them, and your church is holding special activities that bring them into church at the same time, you wind up with a power-packed team effort. That’s what you can have when active evangelism is the primary means of reaching the world for Christ.
So, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I implore you to stop thinking in terms of making it easier for sinners to want to come to church. Rather, I exhort you to continue preaching the Word without fear of how the world receives it. Keep moving forward to matter what and fight until the bell rings!