Posts Tagged ‘Seeker Sensitive’

I have been increasingly concerned with this abomination: most evangelical pastors no longer regularly preach the “offensive” bloody salvation message of Christ’s Atonement on the Cross of Calvary. But we as church members are also to blame. Most church members have rarely if ever shared the gospel message of sin, judgment, Hell and salvation one on one with another individual.

I myself am guilty of seldom witnessing one on one “in the highways and byways.” At the very least, I could get into the habit of leaving tracts wherever I go – yet I  “just haven’t got around to it.” Lord, forgive me! I do praise the Lord that as a pastor and as a born again Christian, my father (God rest his soul) shared the gospel many times with individuals and prayed with them, as they repented of their sins and accepted Christ.

I was pleased to come across a pertinent blog by Chris Hohnholz, rebuking Christians for failing to be active witnesses. Click here for the original source of this blog. I have reposted the entire blog below; I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Burning Man Reminds Us to Preach the Gospel

This week marks the pagan festival held in northern Nevada known as “Burning Man.” For those who may not be familiar with this local event, literally thousands of people from all around the country will descend upon the Black Rock Desert a couple hours north of Reno. They will camp out in RV’s and tents, they will bring assorted foods, music and the like. But this is no ordinary camp out. It is a festival in which every individual’s personal belief system is put on full display. Literally, from the most basic camp out to full on pagan worship, a small society of ultra post-modernity sets itself up for a full week of personal celebration and worship of whatever you choose. The event culminates in the burning of a wooden statue where everybody congregates and celebrates this most sacred event.

However, it is not the debauched, pagan style celebratory worship that drives me to write this article, well, not entirely anyway. As I said, the Burning Man festival is literally the hallmark event of post modernism. Virtually every lifestyle choice and belief system is represented at this gathering. And were you to ask those attending how they felt about the competing beliefs being in all in the same place, they would tell you how wonderful it is to have such a non-judgmental environment where everyone could live as they chose without fear of being told they were wrong. In other words, Burning Man is the utopia of post-modernism. And post-modernism IS the religion of the United States. Those who promote this religion would be overjoyed to see the Burning Man mentality exist in every corner of our society.

My motivation here is not to bemoan the leftist, elitist mindset that drives post-modernism. Rather it is to challenge every single Christian with this thought: how did Burning Man become the Mecca of American “religion” while the Church is viewed as its “anti-christ?” The answer is, I believe, is this, we have faltered in Christ’s command to go forth and preach the gospel to every creature. Remember when we first understood that we were vile wretches that were at war with God through our wicked works. How we realized that in His just punishment, God would rightly send us to Hell. Yet God, in His mercy, pulled us from the fire and punished His Son Jesus Christ at the cross in our place! His shed blood covered our sins and His resurrection paved the path to Heaven for us. Through repentance and faith alone, both merciful gifts from our gracious Father, we received the amazing salvation that promises us eternity with Him! And then Christ commanded us to take the story of that salvation and to preach it to everyone we came in contact with. And what a blessing it would be to share it! To lead the lost, blind and dying to the very salvation they didn’t even know they needed!

Somewhere along the way, we stopped obeying that command. Where we once would not have thought twice about sharing this glorious message with anyone, we reigned back, we slowed down and we gave in. We stopped preaching the hard truth that the law brings condemnation, that it reveals we are not good people and that we deserve Hell. We started saying “God has a wonderful plan for your life,” or we decided we would just allow people to “see Jesus in us.” In doing so, we have exchanged the amazing gospel of Christ, a gospel that should cost us everything to follow, for cheap grace and easy believism! We have become content that evangelism is a spiritual gift for only some and not a command for all. As a result, the culture has plunged head long into the morass of sin and debauchery, into false “religiosity” and personal fulfillment. All the while, we have stood by with the very words of life that can rescue these perishing masses, yet failed to heed the call of our Captain into action.

It is altogether possible that, as you are reading this, you have dismissed my conclusion. If so, consider this, statistics tell us that merely 1% to 2% of professing Christians go out of their way to deliberately share the gospel with someone. That is a very telling number, even if one were to believe the polls which report the high percentages of “Christians” in the United States. In truth, it is likely many of those polled are more cultural Christians than truly bathed in the blood of Christ, born again of the Spirit believers. So that 1% to 2% gets even smaller, which means that a very scant number of truly born again Christian are out there carrying the weight of the command that the entire church is responsible to obey. With these small numbers acting as the evangelistic force for the church, is it that hard to imagine why the church holds so little influence in our culture today?

Yet, there are Christians who would insist that they are very evangelistic. They would point the numbers of people they have invited to church regularly to hear the preaching of the gospel by their pastor. While it is good to bring unsaved friends and loved ones to church, we must understand, this is not evangelism. It is the abdicating of one’s personal responsibility to seek out the lost and share the life giving elixir that is the gospel. Local churches are the place where the saved come together in corporate worship. They are led by the pastor in prayer and praise. They are edified and equipped under his teaching so that they may go out and do spiritual warfare in the world. To leave our responsibility to be proclaimers of the gospel solely to the pastor changes the very nature of the church gathering from corporate worship and edification to seeker friendlyism which sacrifices the content of the word for entertainment to keep the unsaved coming.

But one may point to something that is overtly evangelistic, such as their involvement in the large christian outreaches that gather untold thousands of lost and unregenerate people in one place to hear the gospel. While it is wonderful to see the efforts of so many people to brig the gospel to the world, in many cases, it is simply a repeat of bringing someone to church. Rather than going out into the world preaching the gospel, Christians invite the lost into one place where they will hear preaching by a few, or maybe even just one preacher. The energy and effort put into this gathering is all about getting the people there to hear someone else preach the message. I’m not discounting the genuine desire, and even countless hours of prayer, that Christians pour into this. But in the end, we abdicate the responsibility to someone else. And in truth, many of these events become big seeker friendly attractions where big bands, light shows and celebrity Christians attempt to woo the unsaved to making a “decision for Christ.” But when we look at the statistics, most of those people who make professions of faith never get plugged into a local church. They run around with a “Christian-buzz” for a while, but before long, they prove themselves to be rocky ground with no depth, or a plant choked out by the weeds. In other words, a false convert. One who left us, because he or she never really was of us.

Or maybe those in the church really do desire to get out on the streets to interact with people. So they set up food drives, or head out to feed and clothe the homeless. They hope to show those who are in desperate situations that they are loved by the Church. A noble effort to be sure, but more often than not, it is devoid of the preaching of the gospel. Those they help may be aware of a physical, temporal love in the here and now, but they are rarely, if ever, told that they more desperately need peace with God through Jesus Christ, because their sinful deeds are causing them to be at war with Him.

That’s how post modernism and events like Burning Man are the hallmark of excellence in our society, because Christians have faltered in preaching that amazing grace that saved us from the depths of Hell. I say this because if we remembered that beautiful gospel daily, how could we not go running into the streets to preach it to everyone? How could we ever claim evangelism is not our “gift” when it is a command from our Savior? How could abdicate our responsibility to preach the entirety of the gospel and give a wishy-washy “God has a wonderful plan for your life” message? I can say we have faltered because the fruit of it is as apparent as the false worshippers running to the desert grounds of northern Nevada to worship as they please with no fear of ever being told they are wrong!

I am not saying that the efforts I described above should never, ever happen. If even one soul is saved because they were invited to church or an evangelistic out reach, praise God. If one person comes to Christ because he or she understood that the love of Christ compelled a Christian to reach out and help them, His name is glorified! What I am saying is that by and large, most Christians are either not engaging in the command to evangelize, or are trusting in efforts solely like these to abdicate their responsibility to do so. And because of this, more and more souls are being lost to the culture’s tolerant, post-modern ideas.

Christians, we need to wake up and realize our Captain is commanding us to action! We need to repent of our sin of failing to preach the gospel and seek His forgiveness. We must equip ourselves with the word of God and bend our knees in prayer. We must go out into the highways and byways preaching the truth that salvation is in Christ alone, through repentance and faith alone! We must do so at all costs, even if it means losing relationships, positions at work, or even one day, our freedom. For lives are lost everyday to the pits of Hell! Let us be about our Father’s business, let us preach the truth and let us point people not to a “Burning Man” made of wood, but to the God Man who was and is and is to come! Let us call them to Christ alone!

Click here to view many excellent comments following the above blog which I have reposted.

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(revised 01/18/14)

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:

Bluegrass Music
Classical Music
Fiddle Fun (violin)

HEALTH AND RECREATION (presented in various quarters of the year)
Eat to Live (dieting)
Organic Food Co-Op
Walking/running group
Women’s Fitness

Sports Ministries (softball, volleyball, etc.)

Amateur Radio
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!

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