Check out the following spoof of a seeker sensitive church’s bulletin board. (The original image can be found here.)
One of the dangers of seeker sensitive churches is that they tend to become seeker centered churches. The need for repentance is seldom preached. The gospel becomes a watered down message that attracts people (mostly young people) rather than turning them off. Rarely if ever do attenders/seekers hear the total Truth, the salvation message of The Blood and The Cross, complete with an invitation/altar call.
Click here for a blog which quotes from a sermon by David Wilkerson critiquing seeker sensitive churches. His sermon is excellent!
Here is the key to my criticisms of seeker sensitive churches. My definition of a seeker sensitive activity is any activity which is as equally attractive to a nonchristian as it is to a Christian. There is nothing in the activity to cause a stumbling block, to offend. Specifically, there is nothing in the activity that truly convicts the participant of sin, presenting the need for repentance, the gospel message of salvation, of The Blood and The Cross.
Here’s what God’s Word says about the gospel of salvation being a stumbling block:
23) But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness (I Cor. 1:23, KJV)
Regarding the above verse: if a church teaching or activity is not a stumbling block and not offensive to sinners who are attending, watch out! This church most likely has a “watered down” gospel message.
Now for a few examples. I know of a church that was way ahead of its time regarding the seeker sensitive movement. Years ago this church (which shall remain nameless for the moment) acquired a young vibrant pastor and his wife. The high school and college students loved this couple, and the church grew by leaps and bounds during their time pastoring there.
But looking back, I noticed something very odd going on at the church – something that as a Boomer I would never go along with now. Namely, the church for awhile provided various secular adult electives. One of the adult electives was, of all things, a study of “death and dying” – and they used Elizabeth Kubler Ross‘ book On Death and Dying. Not much Christian about this author!
There were a number of other adult electives provided. Another adult elective was a study of the book I’m OK You’re OK – a study of Transactional Analysis. Again, hardly a Christian book.
These adult electives were provided in the church itself, not at people’s houses. Whoever chose the books for these adult electives seemed to be following a “seeker sensitive” church model way before its time. Namely, they set up classes in subjects that church attenders (including many high school and college students) found interesting and appealing – and in various cases the books were secular rather than “Christian.”
What is shocking to me, looking back, is, these adult electives were offered in what was a fairly fundamentalist evangelical church. Unfortunately, as a result of these adult electives and many other factors, this church has become more “progressive evangelical” over the years.
I discovered recently that the individual who was pastoring at that time has now been “an experienced Spiritual Director for many years. ” What an abomination. (A Spiritual Director is an “expert” in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation – including occultish contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality.)
Today, after having gone through various pastoral transitions, this church is larger than ever. Thankfully, it no longer has adult electives using secular titles such as Death and Dying and I’m OK, You’re OK. But it has a similar approach, namely, providing non-church related activities that attract new church attenders.
Granted, most of the activities are conducted outside the physical church setting. And I must admit, along with the non-church related small groups, the church does provide many small groups that are true Bible study groups.
Yet, to have any church sponsored groups covering secular subjects and activities is very offensive to “old fashioned” fundamentalist evangelicals like myself. To have secular activities in a church setting, or even hosted by a church, strikes me as unbiblical. These groups consist merely of individuals with similar interests. Many of these groups have little to do with the goals of Christendom, namely, to evangelize, to disciple, and to grow more like Christ in holiness. A Bible may or may not be cracked open during the activities, and a prayer may or may not be said. In my mind, these secular-oriented groups are seeker-sensitive/seeker-centered rather than Christ-centered. [I don’t like the term “centered” due to its New Age-ish origins, but the term fits here.]
Amazingly (or maybe not so amazingly anymore), these seeker sensitive groups are being hosted by an evangelical church.
Following are a few of this church’s groups meeting in recent months, which I find seeker sensitive:
Fiddle Fun (violin)
HEALTH AND RECREATION (presented in various quarters of the year)
Eat to Live (dieting)
Organic Food Co-Op
HEALTH AND RECREATION (year-round)
Sports Ministries (softball, volleyball, etc.)
Financial Peace University [Dave Ramsey is a Christian – yet the subject matter itself is technically seeker sensitive – it appeals to both Christians and nonchristians. As helpful as this seminar is, I have seen it also presented in liberal/mainline denominations like the UMC.]
Old Classic Car Club
Another example: a recent Vacation Bible School at this church. What was the theme of the VBS? Favorite Bible stories? Nope. The life and ministry of Jesus? No again. The theme was cars. I have the church newsletter page publicizing the VBS – cars were the “hook”, the theme being used to attract children to attend. Rather odd I think – and unbiblical.
The above activities remind me of a community center such as the YMCA, rather than a church. Yet more and more churches are using secular activities such as these to attract new members. Is this what Christ intended? I don’t think so.
Having said all this, I should ease up a second and say something positive. I am very thankful that this church has not gone as far as some evangelical churches. Believe it or not, there are churches that still call themselves “evangelical”, yet openly provide New Age-ish activities such as labyrinth prayer, yoga, etc. for the community. Scary! [More on this in another blog.]
Update: here are several more examples of seeker sensitive activities. I heard of another church, which can barely garner enough attendees for a Sunday night service. Yet this same church had many men sit in the sanctuary watching the Super Bowl on a big screen TV. Granted, the TV was turned off during the halftime, for a video showing Christian testimonies. But does that make such a secular activity acceptable in a church sanctuary? No!
Another example: I’ve heard of church youth groups having a “videogame night.” Students were allowed to bring their favorite videogames to play – including occult-based games such as “Diablo” – right in the physical church building. What an abomination!