Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Should we be "Seeker Friendly?"

I have become alarmed at the modern trend of the "seeker friendly" church. One quote I ran across recently went so far as to say "We should be a church that always exists more for the people who are not yet saved than for the people who are.” (Mark Driscoll). The person who said this is no doubt a well-intentioned and godly man who has a burden for the lost. But we must be careful at all times not to pull Scriptural truth out of balance.

The Church universal does not exist for Christians or non-Christians, but rather for God. Christ "gave himself for it." (Eph. 5:25). He desires that it be “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (v. 27). Every mention of the church in Scripture refers to those who are saved. God gives differing gifts to each member of the church primarily for the “perfecting of the Saints.” (Eph. 4:12) People are only added to the church after they are saved. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47)

I would like to briefly discuss two dangers which I believe a seeker friendly church is exposed to. The first one is the temptation to water down the truth of Scripture. One prominent speaker (who I will not name) spends a lot of his time talking about the love of Christ. In a sense, this is great. There is perhaps no greater truth than the understanding that the God of the universe wants to have a personal, vibrant relationship with us his creation. But he gives sin and judgment only a passing glance.

It is impossible to fully understand and embrace the love of God without first understanding the judgment of God. Consider the following passage:

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24)

You can't truly appreciate verse 24 unless you understand the implications of verse 23. We need to make sure that we consistently share the truth in love that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Once this truth is understood the message of God's love and forgiveness will be more fully appreciated, understood, and ultimately applied.

We must realize that it is not we who are responsible to save souls but the Spirit of God. While it is true that God gives us new and exciting ways to minister (i.e. film, multimedia etc.) we must realize that sharing the truth is more important than making someone comfortable. There really is nothing comforting about knowing that we are guilty sinners, but it is only through the understanding and admission of such that we have peace with God. Only "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10)

The second danger is that those who are already believers will have difficulty growing in their faith because the line between being "seeker friendly" and "seeker focused" can be very thin. It is God's desire that we would progress from the "milk" of the word to “strong meat [which] belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb. 5:14). This will increase our ability to reach our world with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ!

In conclusion, although we are called to reach out to those who do not yet believe we must make sure that we do not neglect the truth. To do so is to forget the whole point of our outreach. We must realize that only as strong believers can the church maximize its impact in the world. It is also worth noting that in any area of life in which we wish to excel, the best way is to spend time with those who are at a more advanced stage than we are. The Christian life is no exception!

Andrew Gommesen