Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Five Fold Ministry Goofs of the Seeker Sensitive Movement (Part 3)

“I believe in being seeker sensitive, it’s just that I only believe in one Seeker”
Paul Washer
Question 2. What is the local church’s role in the work of evangelism?

So if the local church belongs to Christ, and it is Christ Who builds the church, then what work has been allocated to the local church and each member of its congregation. Are you ready . . . preaching! Now I know this idea is about as popular as a pork chop in a Synagogue but that is every Christian’s responsibility. Jesus’ final orders, to go into the world and preach the gospel, is every Christian’s primary responsibility and the local church is charged with equipping them for this work. I know the ideas of “lifestyle” and “friendship” evangelism are very much in vogue these days but they seem to be employed more and more as loopholes around the Great Commission than the means by which we achieve it. Sure we can let our light shine but did Paul say “how shall they see without a preacher”? No, he says “how shall they hear”[1]. Furthermore, witnessing by example will always be brought undone by two things: i) our inherent sinful nature and ii) the guy on the mountain bike from the works righteous religion always seems to have a light that shines brighter (even if it is the headlamp of an oncoming train).

Others claim to be absolved from any witnessing responsibility because they don’t have the “gift of evangelism”. The text they cite is from Ephesians 4:11 where evangelism is recognized as a ministry gift. But the purpose of the gift is identified in the following verse which is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”. So here we see that the gift of evangelism is for training believers and not for the unconverted. It is the work of evangelism that is performed by a church that is equipped to preach to a lost world.

Then there is the overused (by overuse I mean more than zero) quote by Francis of Assisi “preach always, if necessary use words”. It’s like saying “wash always, if necessary use water”. First of all whenever the word “preach” appears in the New Testament it always refers to forceful verbal proclamation like a town crier. Second of all, there is no official record of Francis of Assisi ever making this quote[2]. In fact history shows that Francis of Assisi was an open air preacher. As noted evangelist Ray Comfort rightly pointed out – Francis was no sissy.

Hopefully by now you are getting a mental picture of the church, the called out ones, going out into the harvest field/battlefield and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to a hell bound world. These true disciples/soldiers return to the mother ship on a regular basis for the meat of God’s Word and honing of their spiritual armor in order to continue on the front lines.

I say “mental picture” because it is far removed from reality for many a modern church-goer. The general trend among “seeker sensitive” churches has been to place greater and greater focus on using the setting of the congregational meeting as the place to evangelize unregenerate sinners which are now called the “unchurched”. This allows the church member/evangelist the option of abdicating his responsibility to preach and merely invite people to a “seeker sensitive service”. Evangelism is an often hard and thankless task and the idea of handing this responsibility over to the leaders within one’s local church can be very appealing to our base human nature. It is here where evangelism shifts from the battlefront to the front of the altar.

For a “seeker sensitive church service” the preaching is tailored not only to the “unchurched” level of understanding, but also to try and capture their interest. The effect this has on the dietary intake of those who are disciples will be dealt with in PART II, suffice to say it produces MacLarens instead of MacArthurs and Spongs instead of Spurgeons.
To Be Continued tomorrow - where we will deal with Question 3:
Is the local church meant to grow by attracting the “unchurched”?

[1] Romans 10:14

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

1 comment:

danielpaterson said...

Brother Cam,
It is good to hear some gospel words from a far away land. We are missing your part in the body here my friend, but I know this gospel will be preached and preached wherever you go. This life is for His glory, and this Church is to carry His message... it's good to keep that central. Just as the Lord commanded Paul, "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent" (Acts 18:9). If the Lord is for us who can stand against us.

Bless ya,