I believe that a grand indicator of the spiritual condition of the American Church is found in the seeker-sensitive movement. Before I begin, let me state that the Lord will bless His Church however He can, in order to fulfill His purposes in the Earth. Even as this is the case, we must be cautious not to mistake His blessing for His flawless approval. Any and every ministry I have known on this earth is (or has been) flawed in some way (a good historical account of some of the Lord’s most blessed ministries is Gods Generals: Why They Succeeded And Why Some Fail). I am not targeting any specific ministry with this blog, only reproving this ministry approach in general. That being said, let’s drudge on.
First, a seeker-sensitive church is a baby. Since the message presented every Sunday must apply to new believers (since they are the focus) there is almost never any depth to the sermon. Hebrews 5:12 “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” Those who have been believers for any amount of time are no longer being fed (and as they are spiritually malnourished, their lives rarely produce the fruit the Lord has called them to). So there is no such thing as spiritual growth in such a congregation when they meet together. [blockquote type="blockquote_line" align="left"]When people have to bring their lost friends to Church to hear the Gospel, it means they aren’t witnessing.[/blockquote] A pastor that cannot train his congregation to evangelize is “giving them the fish” rather than “training them to fish”. Not to mention, with this approach, the seeker sensitive model requires building growth. Since people cannot witness for themselves (and need a pastor to do it for them) the Church has to grow in order to account for the growing number of lost people entering it’s doors. If this were the Lord’s idea of evangelism He would have been building synagogues on the hill tops instead of sending out the disciples (Mt 10).
Next, it simply isn’t the Biblical model of a Church. The “seeker sensitive” movement in the church in Corinth was just to pray in tongues in private and prophesy to new visitors (1 Cor 14:6). Paul expressed his desire that the entire congregation would be prophesying (1 Cor 14:31)! We have become so concerned about making sure not to offend people that the Church has lost sight of the fact that THE CROSS IS AN OFFENSE (Gal 5:11).
So what about cultural relevance? The seeker sensitive movement has brought more than culture into the walls of the church, but brought worldliness itself. A message that is pleasing, easy to respond to, rarely convicts, and applies vaguely to all things. How horrifically universal. We are not OF THIS WORLD (John 17:16). Well what about “becoming all things to all people”? Paul became all things to all people in his external cultural adherence when he was witnessing! He was referring to his external customs (Jewish customs, gentile customs, the learned, the weak, etc.) not spiritual doctrine, nor was he referring to a church (or The Church for that matter). His cultural relevance never watered down the message of the cross.
My encouragement is that rather than presenting sermons that please the ears of the audience, present palatable or general messages on patience, our efforts would be better utilized by training up individuals to witness as Jesus did: publicly, with signs and wonders as testimony of the Truth.