COMMENTARY    March 2005
‘Seeker-sensitive’ movement poses threat to the church
By Ana Petitfils

A “seeker-sensitive” church is a church whose main purpose is to try to make the church look more attractive to unbelievers. Many churches use technology and media to drive outreach to the communities. Most say this is a powerful outreach tool, but the affects of it can, and will, be very unhealthy for the church as a whole.

Throughout the generations the Christian movement has modernized and desensitized from the old traditional ways of worship and preaching to a more accepting environment. Although a seeker-sensitive church can portray itself as friendly and demonstrating Christ is love, it also brings a great danger to the church. There are several negative effects that this type of church will establish.

In a seeker-sensitive church the influence that is brought in is about meeting one’s emotional or “felt” needs rather than preaching the gospel. In fact, the gospel is often paraphrased as an answer for those relational or marital problems, for the angry or the depressed. It is used as a cure for the basic physiological distress rather than teaching the good news of salvation and God’s forgiveness of our sins.

The biblical importance of the message is often overlooked and the emphasis is to meet the emotional needs of people. The message as a whole is usually that cut-short-attention spans will not be forced to sit any longer and listen to an extended preaching of God’s word.

For most, church becomes more of a counseling session then an actual intimate time with our Father.

The focus on the seeker-sensitive church is on that of the seeker and not much on God. It is very important on how the seeker feels on issues regarding worship, the program and the teaching environment. The concern is not on the foundation, but on the appearance.

The leaders of this church will ask questions usually pertaining to how they can make the church look more attractive to others. How far can they go without offending Christians? Ministry is no longer ministry, but it has evolved to a stressful weekly job with goals forgetting the main purpose. Offering is even overlooked in fear of the fact that unbelievers might not appreciate the idea. If giving and worshipping to God fully is taken away, then my question would be, “What is left to give to God?”

In the seeker-friendly church there is a lack of biblical analysis and more topical subjects when it comes to the sermon. On Sunday you are more likely to hear a sermon on “How to improve your money situation?” or “How to be successful” rather than an actual biblical breakdown.

The church is becoming more of a how-to-better-your-life situation and it doesn’t focus on the meaningful word of God. A local church in Los Angeles is doing a series on the “Matrix” and how the motion picture relates to our lives. This is an absolute embarrassment to the Christian church.

The concept of a seeker-friendly church is mainly centered on materialistic ideas. It has taken on a worldly mindset, and is preoccupied with how technology and media can manipulate seekers into “feeling” the Holy Spirit. This brings about a very serious and dangerous situation.

The Lord promises us in his Word that we are merely planters of the seed and that He is the one who will work in the heart of man, not man. We are powerless compared to the work of God. The Holy Spirit moves in us in miraculous ways and when a church tries to force that feeling onto unbelievers this can lead to false decisions and dedications in ones life based purely on the emotion felt at that one point in time.

Yes, flashy modernized church will bring seekers in the church. Some really are trying to find themselves or God, some who struggle in their faith as it is, and most that are looking for an hour of entertainment. For those who are spiritually hungry, a seeker-sensitive church can offer nothing but a watered down version of the truth, a movie preview, or a Bible’s guide for dummies. It is merely a self-help guide to those who are lost and teaches about a faith that cannot save.

It is not wrong to help attract outreach or to use drums in the worship band, but it is wrong when the focus of the church is that of trying not to offend seekers. As we are told in Romans 1:16, “we are not to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ no matter what the cost.”

If the church douses itself in prayer and allows the Lord to guide them, He will fulfill all the church’s needs more than we, as mere humans can do. The seeker-sensitive movement has not only affected few churches, but it is also currently spreading across the world and infecting the minds of many washed-out Christians. I know all this because my church divided over it.

Ana Petitfils is a sophomore at Christian Heritage College. She wrote the commentary as part of an English assignment.

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