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Seeker-Sensitive Churches: A Brief Biblical Critique

July 11, 2010

There are now many, many churches that have adopted the “seeker-sensitive” model of church growth; that is, they adapt their music, their “look,” their delivery, and even their content so that the unchurched will feel comfortable in the service and not feel as though they had entered into a strange new world fixated upon sin, death, blood, and other such uncomfortable notions. These churches claim that they do present all of those historic truths of the biblical faith – they just tend to put them in other venues, such as discipleship classes and small groups. The Sunday morning service, however, is intended to target those who are “seeking” something. But what are they seeking?


Are they seeking a good time? Then “hip” contemporary music, casual styling, free coffee and pastries, and state-of-the-art drama, dance, and multimedia exhibits may provide that.


Are they seeking answers to questions concerning “life issues,” such as marital trouble, ill-behaved children, financial woes, or low self-esteem? Then pop psychology, couched in the comfortable pseudo-religious language of love, peace, and positive thinking may provide that.  


Are they seeking to validate their spirituality by engaging in something mildly religious? Then the Christian trappings – however vague and innocuous they may be – may provide that.


But are they seeking God? Paul would have thought this idea preposterous. He wrote specifically, in fact, that “there is none who seeks for God” (Romans 3:11; cf. Psalm 53). This he explains in the same letter by saying that the natural man suppresses the innate knowledge of God because natural man has a reprobate mind and is at enmity with God (Romans 1; 8:7).


The seeker-sensitive church, then, cannot be sensitive to a seeker of God, for there are none. Unregenerate man has no interest in the truths of God, no interest whatsoever. In fact, the unregenerate man hates God. Why would he then be seeking God? Only those whose hearts of stone are being replaced with hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26); only those who are being quickened from death to life (Ephesians 2:1-5); only those who are being translated from the darkness into the light (1 Peter 2:9) have any interest in the truths of God. But will they find that for which they hunger and thirst in a seeker-sensitive church?


Will they hear the call to repentance? Will they hear of the insufficiency of their own righteousness? Or of Christ who washed us from our sins in his own blood (Revelation 1:5)? Or of the atonement made once for all to those who are being saved, that they may be reconciled to God (Hebrew 7:27; Colossians 1:21)? In short, will they hear the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16)? Or will they only hear that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives? Many who hear that and take comfort from it ought rather to be told that His plan for their lives may well be anything but wonderful, for they, in their wickedness and sinful rebellion against the righteousness and holiness of God, may be subject to the imminent onslaught of His dreadful wrath (Romans 1:18; Hebrew 10:31).


The seeker-sensitive church, then, is only sensitive to those who are seeking everything but God. For those who are seeking for God, those who are to receive the inward call from God, such churches are not sensitive at all. This is to their shame. Whenever the church tries to model herself after the world, so that the world will feel at home there, she has abandoned her calling. There is no conversion where there is no conviction, and there is no conviction without sound exposition of the Word of God. There is no redemption where there is no repentance, and there is no repentance where there is no presentation of the law of God. Paul again: “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The words of Christ are both convicting and restoring, and both must be preached. Anything less is another gospel.


From → Church

One Comment
  1. “The seeker-sensitive church, then, is only sensitive to those who are seeking everything but God.”

    Very well said! I have often thought the same thing. The S. S. church model bases everything they do on their quest to be “relevant” to the lost. They couldn’t be less relevant on that topic.

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