Friday, May 9, 2008

The Five Fold Ministry Goofs of the Seeker Sensitive Movement (Part 4)

“I believe in being seeker sensitive, it’s just that I only believe in one Seeker”
Paul Washer

Question 3. Is the local church meant to grow by attracting the “unchurched”?

The popular thought among “seeker sensitive” proponents is that growth in attendance verifies success and validates the methodology. But is this a valid form of measurement? Following this logic Noah must have been an abject failure as an evangelist. To be sure he was a great ship builder but he was also a preacher of righteousness[1] for around 100 years. After a century of Noah’s evangelistic endeavors how many people got on the boat – his wife, his three sons and the wives of his three sons. Think about it, Noah endured decade after decade without a “church growth manual” to improve his ark attendance. How long would most modern mission boards have given Noah before they cut his funding. Few would argue that the problem was Noah’s preaching and Scripture seems to suggest otherwise[2]. It seems pretty clear that the reason no one listened to Noah was that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”[3]. Noah’s success as a preacher should be measured by his faithfulness to the message God charged him with[4] and so too should it be with the preachers of modern times. The church growth phenomenon has placed unnecessary pressure on many faithful preachers in the field as congregation size becomes a criteria that prevails over faithful preaching.
Some people will be critical of this analogy concerning Noah. Without a doubt healthy church attendance can be a reflection of faithful preaching and God’s favor. But my contention here is that this should never be our starting point. Several years ago I took part in some campus evangelism at a major university in Australia. Christian leaders on the campus were very interested in methodology and results. The first question asked was “does it work?” to which I responded “wrong question”. Their first port of call in evaluating my material and methodology should have been the question “is it biblical”? If everything we do is not grounded in Scripture then our labor can be like window dressing on a house with no foundation[5]. Many would argue that their methodology is grounded in Scripture but we need to apply a proper hermeneutic when assessing this (which will be discussed in a later chapter).
This pragmatic thinking where the end justifies the means is very prevalent in many of today’s mega-churches and can be a very dangerous road to travel. Our deceitful human hearts can be quick to embrace ideas that deliver a desired outcome. One key figure within the seeker sensitive movement said this “Create a service that is intentionally designed for your members to bring their friends to. And make the service so attractive, appealing, and relevant to the unchurched that your members are eager to share it with the lost people they care about”[6]. Did you notice the emphasis he placed on preaching content? No, me neither.
While many professing Christians can quote John 3:16 with ease the verses that follow seem to have been highlighted with invisible ink. Yet they contain the missing information. Verses eighteen through twenty have this to say “He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, lest his deeds should be exposed”[7]. Scripture teaches plainly that unconverted humanity cannot find God for the same reason that a thief can never find a policeman.
I cannot find anywhere in Scripture where we are instructed to make our churches more attractive to the “unchurched”, but there is ample evidence of God growing His church[8] and men preaching His message. The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. Only God can change the human heart[9], and the “foolishness of preaching”[10] is the method God chose to facilitate that change.
To Be Continued tomorrow - where we will deal with Question 4:
Is there a correlation between a non Christian’s “felt needs” and what they really need?
[1] II Peter 2:5
[2] Genesis 6:9
[3] Genesis 6:5
[4] II Timothy 4:1-5
[5] II Timothy 3:16
[6] Rick Warren – The Purpose Driven Church p253
[7] John 3:17-20
[8] Matthew 16:18, Acts 2:39,47
[9] Ezekiel 36:26
[10] I Corinthians 1:21

Go On To Part 5
Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

1 comment:

Cameron Buettel said...

God grows His Church period. And he has given man the humbling priveledge of proclaiming the one and only means of reconciliation.