seeker sensitive?

I want to start my post with the following question:

What is the purpose of a church service?

is it:

  1. For the purpose of drawing unsaved people to our gathering so that the Gospel can be presented to them?
  2. A place and time for believers to be gathered together to worship and pray together, be taught, equipped and sent out to evangelize the world?

I personally lean toward answer 2. However, to be honest with you, no matter what yours or my answer is, the fact is that most churches are doing a poor job at both.


So here’s my extremely unpopular rant…

What is the deal with the obsession with having “Seeker-sensitive” churches?  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we should present the Gospel in a way that even a child can understand.  I also believe HIGHLY in doing things with excellence.  Yet I keep hearing people talk about toning down our worship, and finding ways to make church a more comfortable place for sinners to come and stay.

I used a picture of Lakewood Church so that you know, I’m not picking on “non-pentecostal” churches.   This is happening in churches of all denominations and sizes.  Pastors are replacing a message from the Lord with lessons on how to have a happy life, and putting an encounter with the presence of God into a 10 minute window to keep those who want to be in and out of the building in less than an hour happy.

Here’s two reasons why I have a problem with this:

1) Our programs and our frills can never replace the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Our focus needs to be on Spirit-sensitivity and less on being almost politically-correct.  Was Jesus politically correct?  Did He (or the apostles for that matter) ever soften what He had to say about sin?  Of course they approached everyone with love – but they never held back things like what Jesus said to the woman at the well who had 5 husbands (I don’t even read about Jesus having a concern about whether she would run away offended).

2) We have replaced personal evangelism with a program that we call a church service.  I believe that the purpose of the church service is for Worship, Prayer, and the ministry of the Word (through teaching, preaching, exhortation, etc).  Never is the focus to be on ourselves or those who are visiting, but on The Lord and on how we can better serve Him! If a sinner comes, he or she will witness the Presence of God that is made manifest in the atmosphere where the Spirit is made welcome.  They will also witness the fellowship, love, and testimony of the goodness of God.   This is where the opportunity to draw them in is so great.

I am by no means bashing anyone’s style of worship.  I am just raising my eyebrows at what I call “misplaced focus”.   We’ve replaced relationship with church attendance, worship with nice music, and personal evangelism with an invitation to a soft-sell church service (I could go on).  I’m moving away from the thought that the church service is where evangelism is most effective.  Think about it, it’s just plain lazy to invite someone to church as opposed to share Jesus with them.  Please note, I don’t consider massive evangelistic crusades (especially in places where people have never heard the Gospel) a part of what I’m talking about – these provide a totally different atmosphere and different situation than the weekly church service.

If in the church service, we create deeper relationships with the Lord through worship, prayer, and the Word; we’ll create stronger Christians who are excited and well-equipped to share their faith with people who need a Savior.  Then when that person comes to the church service, all of the stuff we don’t do because “people will think it’s weird” would make sense to them.


5 thoughts on “seeker sensitive?

  1. klampert says:

    Great thoughts…
    I think evangelism in a service is important…But I think “dumbing down” a service and relying solely on technology is not the key.
    There is some truth to walking the walk. Seeker churches while I dont agree with the theology of how they are going about the church thing are bringing tons of people into the kingdom.
    The biblical purpose of church is a place where can come before God and worship our creator. It is solely for Him. Our edification is just a great byproduct of that.

  2. dean says:

    excellent observations, tj. personal evangelism has gotten boiled down to an invitation to church, rather than an explanation of sin, judgment, mercy, faith and forgiveness. and because “church” culture has been conditioned toward this, the service has become geared toward reaching the lost rather than as a vehicle for teaching, worship, praise and adoration.

    i do agree with klampert, that there needs to be an evangelistic element, because God only knows what percentage of regular church members are not saved in the first place. but the primary purpose of the worship service should be just that… for those who know Him to grow in our walk, to deepen our faith and to express our worship and our love to Him. after all, as i mentioned in a post awhile back, how is it possible for someone who doesnt know God to know how to praise or worship Him.

    “well equipped” is a key term here. ephesians 4:11-12 tells us that teachers and pastors are to equip God’s people. in too many churches there isnt enough meat being fed to the believers, and they go out into the world ill-equipped for Kingdom service. it isnt about style, its about substance.

  3. tjscott says:

    Doggone it, I keep forgetting some important disclaimers! Yes, there should be some evangelistic element to our services because there needs to be instruction given to the unsaved who happen upon our services. I’m just saying that the purpose of our worship services have been distorted.

    Love the comments again – haven’t had any traffic here in a while – keep it coming!!!

  4. Jeff says:

    Great post and good interaction! I’ve always been rather bothered by the idea of “seeker-sensitive.” It just demonstrates poor theology. Scripture tells us that there are none who seek after God. Rather, it is the Savior who seeks and saves the lost.

    I just read a post about this somewhere else that used Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 14.23-25…
    “So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand[h]comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

    The point is, I think, that when unbelievers come into a genuine worship experience, that the Holy Spirit’s presence will convict them and demonstrate His awesome reality.

  5. shelleysmith23 says:

    awesome post.

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