By Pastor Brad
There has been much debate over the “seeker sensitive” mode of “doing church.” It seems as if the people promoting this idea have the right attitude toward the lost, but the wrong method for reaching the lost. I remember having a discussion with our District Superintendent in 2002 about evangelistic methods. I told him that I was going to try a new method that was practically unheard of today in the churches in America. I distinctly remember him pulling closer to hear this “new exciting method” (which, by the way, many are looking for). I will never forget the look on his face when I whispered, “I am going to go into all the world and preach the gospel and teach people to obey everything that Christ commands, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” When I asked him if he had ever heard of this method before, he just smiled. He knew what I was getting at. We need to get back to the Scriptures.
You cannot and will not find the “seeker sensitive” method of evangelism in Scripture--anywhere. As a matter of fact there is only one true seeker in Scripture. The true seeker is Jesus. Jesus even says, Himself, that He has come to seek and save the lost. If we are going to be “seeker sensitive” then I propose that we be sensitive to the real seeker, Jesus.
Many church growth methods that are floating around today are directly opposed
to Scripture. Much of the ideal today stems from an Arminian theology
that says man is in control. This is a big problem in many churches
today. The problem with Arminianism is that the highest good is the
“freewill of man” (which does not exist in much of the way Arminian’s
today understand). This Arminian (man centered) thought has opened the
doors for dominion theology, liberation theology, open theology, liberation
theology, moral government theology, “the seeker sensitive church”, “the
user-friendly church” and many other man-centered doctrines that come about
by misunderstanding and misusing the Scriptures.
is not a paper on systematic theology, but in order to understand what happens
when Scripture is misunderstood or misused we must see some of the issues and
where this has taken us. We must keep in mind that the Bible is God’s
story about God to us. All we can hope to become is the recipient of the
Word of God. The Word of God is the final authority to the church.
Faith comes from hearing the Word. It is the Word that judges the thoughts and
intentions of mans heart. It is the Word that equips us for every good work
that God has preordained His people to walk in. If we misunderstand or
misuse the Word we are already at a loss. We are rendered powerless
against the schemes of Satan. Even Jesus (the real seeker) used the Word
to oppose Satan in the wilderness.
The “seeker sensitive” church uses Luke 15 as a major passage to justify their position. However, what they fail to understand is that in these fine parables the seeker always represents God, not man! The lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son, represents man. In order to see that the real seeker is Jesus we need to go back to the beginning.
the Beginning (What Does Adam Do?)
It has often been said that eighty percent of Christian theology can be found
in the first three chapters of the Bible (Genesis 1-3). This is where
the fall of mankind occurs. We have to remember what happened after the
fall. Adam and Eve were in the garden and they hid themselves
from God. Not only did they try to hide from God, but also they
attempted to cover themselves with leaves. Notice Adam was not seeking
he was hiding. Then something very interesting happens. God says,
“Adam, where are you?” Now the questions become, “Do you really
think God could not find Adam?” “Do you really think God did not
know where Adam was?” God knew exactly where Adam was, the problem was
that God wanted Adam to realize where Adam was.
Let’s look at Adam’s idea to cover himself with leaves. This did not work as a covering. Why? Because it was man’s idea (much like the seeker sensitive phenomenon, it appears to be successful but only in man’s eyes). However, we read that God provided a covering for Adam and Eve that was made from animal skins (this also required the shedding of an animal’s blood, which will be very important in the rest of Scripture).
Does Jesus Do?
We have already mentioned that Jesus has placed himself as the true seeker. Let’s think about what how Jesus reacted to certain individuals He crossed paths with. Let’s start with the calling of the twelve. This is basic. Jesus simply went to them and said, “Follow Me.” Jesus also added, “I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus was going to teach them to seek out the lost. Only the true seeker can teach this.
It is not too much later that Jesus crosses paths with a rich young ruler. It is important to know that Jesus did not try to get into this “Unchurched Harrys” mind. As a matter of fact, Jesus did not even start where “Unchurched (rich young ruler) Harry” was. Jesus started with God’s law. Whenever “Unchurched (rich young ruler) Harry” did not respond it is important to note that Jesus did not sing a song or go into a drama that he could “relate to.” Whenever “Unchurched (rich young ruler) Harry” could not accept the spiritual teachings of Jesus, Jesus let him go away sad and then used this as an illustration for His followers. According to “Seeker Senstive” rules Jesus did not “do church” right. How dare He let a possible big tither get away like that! Surely even Jesus could have done something to entertain this guy to get his tithe.
It is not long after this, in Jesus’ journey, that He meets up with a woman taken in adultery. He doesn’t give her a feel-good drama. He basically keeps her from being killed and tells her to go and sin no more. Or in other words, “knock off what your doing and don’t do it again.”
Then there is Mary Magadalene (the whore). She is not an “Unchurched Mary”, she does not fit our white urban yuppie profile. Let’s don’t talk about her. However, she is actually one that we know accepts Jesus as Lord and remains faithful. Why? Because Jesus called her to Himself.
See, Jesus says that no one comes to the Father except through Him. And the ones who do come are drawn by the Holy Spirit, not by some feel good music or gimmick. We’ll talk about this later.
We have one final Person that I want to deal with. This man was probably Jesus’ closest companion. His name is Peter. When Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered for the group saying, “You are the Christ (Anointed One) the Son of the Living God.” Jesus replied, “Flesh and blood (or, in other words, man) has not revealed this to you, but my Father which is in heaven.” I often tell our church members that I only can proclaim the gospel. I do not have the power to convince anyone to follow Christ. I cannot even convince my kids to take out the garbage on Monday and Thursday. How am I going to convince someone to change his or her whole spiritual orientation? Well, I don’t have to and I cannot. The Bible tells us that many are called, but few are chosen. This reminds me that, when I proclaim the gospel message, many hear. But it is then that the Holy Spirit gives the effectual calling to the heart of man. Jesus knew this. That is why He instructed His disciples to go from house to house and if people did not accepted the message they were to knock the dust of their feet as a testimony against them. Peter finally got the message.
Does Peter Do?
We see the Church formed in Acts chapter 2. Here we see Peter’s first recorded sermon on the “Day of Pentecost.” One thing that is interesting is that Peter says exactly who these promises are for. He says, “To your sons and daughters and to as many who are called by God.” Notice he does not say, “To as many as you can smooth talk and slide in some way and make them assimilate and feel good.” This same chapter then ends in an interesting way. Luke writes, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Again we don’t see where any were smoothed in or assimilated or had their felt needs met. We only see the Lord adding the ones that God called.
Peter was given the “keys to the kingdom.” This means that Peter opened the door for the gospel message. He was the first to preach to the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Gentiles. In all of his adventures Peter (and the other apostles) simply proclaimed the message and watched the Holy Spirit work.
Does Paul Do?
Any good speaker knows that there is a rule for speaking. You tell the people what you are going to say (Jesus), you say it (Peter), and then you tell them what you said (Paul). In the book of Romans Paul goes all the way back to Adam and explains the fall of man. (By the way Paul pretty much shoots down the whole Seeker idea when he tells us “No man seeks God.” This is pretty straightforward.) The Paul explains how Jesus is the “Last Adam.”
The interesting thing is that Peter and Paul both (although they had their
disagreement at one time) never doubt for a moment that it is God who calls us
from the darkness into the marvelous light of His Son. Paul was even
told to go to a certain city at one point because there were people there who
were going to believe. It is obvious that the only job that these
apostles had was to share the message of Jesus Christ and let the Spirit call
these people through the Word of God.
Should We Do?
We too have an obligation to share the Word and let the Spirit call. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians that it is through the foolishness of preaching that God has chosen to work. Paul reminds us in Romans that faith comes by hearing the Word. Since we are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves (man’s philosophies and methods included) if the Word is not proclaimed, faith does not come--therefore, there is no conduit for the grace to flow through. No one is saved apart from the Word of God. This is God’s plan.
The major problem is that what we save people with is what we save them to. If we save them with pop-psychology feel-good methods, cool entertaining music, neat multimedia presentations, advertising, fads, and marketing (by the way there is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves) when these things are gone so are “Churched Harry and Mary.” However, if we win them with the Word of God, then when the Word of God is gone (which will be never (Isaiah 40:8)), then “Churched Harry and Mary” will be with the Lord. I like Lee Strobel. I first met him in Hawaii at a convention. I have enjoyed his writings and radio interviews. However, I am not interested in “Getting in the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary.” But I am interested in the gospel getting into the hearts of “Unchurced Harry and Mary.” I am sure Lee would agree.
Getting into the mind requires man’s psychological philosophies. Getting into the heart requires the pure unadulterated Word of God that is living and powerful, judges the thoughts and intentions of man’s heart, and equips “Churched Harry and Mary” for any work that God may have for them.
It is Jesus who came to seek and save the lost. He is the real
seeker. Let’s be “seeker sensitive”, but let’s
make sure we are sensitive to the real Seeker. Remember what you win
them with you win them to.
Hey “Creekers” let’s be sensitive to the real Seeker!