If something affects the individual Christ follower, it almost always affects the collective of Christ followers. The blur of needs, wants, and extras have made it difficult for churches to encourage maturing. With the world’s way of operating just outside the entryway, and Satan selling his snake oil fixes, the church has become more focused on talents and hard work than on God and His call. We do what we know and we work at it the hardest, trying to make God happy. We may not realize it, but the world has seen the church this way for a long time. Those outside the entryway think the church is a bunch of people trying their hardest to do stuff that no one truly understands to make an angry God happy.
In an attempt to bring Christianity back to its New Testament beginnings…
…to change the perception the world has of this religion, a rebranding of sorts has taken place. As I mentioned before, the name Christian is often replaced by Christ follower. It gives a name to those of us who’s Christianity goes far beyond their family heritage, separating the Christian by birth from the Christian through faith in Jesus Christ. The presentation of the gospel has also been rebranded. What was once simple had become confusing. Those who wanted to know more about this Christianity thing found themselves lost in a religion that was tough to understand. Jesus never presented the good news this way; He used simple stories to present the truth. The church realized it was time to do the same. A new phrase was born to describe this movement: “Seeker Sensitive.”
All movements, religious or not, have their intentions and undesired consequences. It’s like those ads on TV for pharmaceutical products… The voiceover person has such a long list of potential side effects that they break the sound barrier trying to fit them into the allotted commercial runtime. “This product may not be right for everyone; consult your doctor before using it.” How stupid do they think we are? Of course it’s not right for everyone because not everyone has the same disease, and of course you need to consult your doctor before using it; how else are you going to get the prescription? It only goes downhill from there. First there is the annoying side effects: runny nose, hot flashes, and so on. Then there is the side effects that are identical to the problem you are trying to treat with this drug. After that, there is a long list of things that sound worse than the issue the medicine is supposed to solve. Finally, there’s the issues you should never read about on a full stomach and the obligatory “may cause death.” The desire to treat illness produces products that can both improve life, the intended effect, and cause serious issues, the undesired consequence.
The “seeker sensitive” movement was based on the idea…
…that the presentation of the gospel, including the words used and the environment they are used in, did not resonate with the unchurched people of twentieth and twenty-first century. The two-thousand-year-old message was not the issue, but as history has proven, the way to promote understanding often needs a new approach. Jesus used parables that referenced cultural practices of the day. Paul used the human body as an easy-to-understand metaphor for the church and the use of spiritual gifts. The Bible has been translated into the common language of the people and then retranslated into more modern versions of the same language. Being sensitive to the seeker has always been a necessity for the collective of Christ followers and every individual Christ follower. The unintended, at least I hope it was unintended, undesired consequence of this recent movement was the labeling of those who are not Christ followers as “seekers” while those committed to following Him appear to have nothing more to seek. The entryway becomes the place where people who are no longer seeking work hard to use their talents to convince people who are seeking that what they really need is to come into the one-room floor plan of salvation. Seekers need to get away from the world and punch their get-out-of-hell-free ticket so they can resolve their undesirable status of “seeker.”
Let’s back up a bit…
…I understand the idea behind the “seeker sensitive” movement. There is no question that Christianity has had, and probably still has, problems connecting with those who don’t identify themselves as Christians but want to know more about Christianity. That being said, seeking should not be limited to just this group. Those who want to know more about following Christ and those who call themselves Christ followers require those who are ahead of them in the maturing process to be sensitive to their seeking, their need for more of God.
In the one-room floor plan positioned so close to the world, the group called “seekers” does not include the Christ followers in the entryway. The snake oil salesman has convinced the childish entryway dweller that they have discovered all they can, that there is no more to God. All they can do is use their talents and their hard work to reach those in the world who are seeking. The name may be “seeker sensitive,” but the undesired consequence is that many have become “seeker driven” when it comes to others but lack any desire to seek when it comes to themselves. Limited to their immature, childish faith, the entryway dweller believes that research into what people on the outside want gives them a framework to apply their hard work and personal talents to reach those who don’t follow Christ. The danger is, without seeking more of God, how can you?
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— with great patience and careful instruction.”2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)
Over the next few months I will be preaching a sermon series using my book Blueprint as a jumping off point. My posts will contain small sections from my book and a link to my sermon. You will notice that our small church is still trying to get our posts up to a better standard – we are not visully stunning but I hope you will enjoy and grow from our content.