We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Friday, November 28, 2014

"Seeker-Friendly" Is NOT Gospel Friendly

. . . We visited Willow Creek Community Church not too long ago, and it seems to have spared no expense in its missions to attract the masses.  Looking past the swans gliding across the mirror lake, one sees what could be mistaken for a corporate headquarters or a very upscale shopping mall.  Just off the sanctuary is a large bookstore and an extensive eating area supplied by a food court with five different vendors.  A jumbo-tron screen allows an overflow crowd or those enjoying a meal to view the proceedings in the main sanctuary.  The sanctuary itself is spacious and high tech, complete with three large screens and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems for multimedia, drama, and musical presentations. . . .

Mega-churches across the country have added bowling alleys, NBA regulation basketball courts with bleachers, exercise gyms and spas, locker rooms, auditoriums for concerts and dramatic productions, and Starbucks and McDonald's franchises -- all for the furtherance of the gospel.  Or so it is claimed.  Although it is true that such churches are packing them in, that's not the whole story in evaluating the success of this latest trend in "doing church.". . .

Evangelical church-growth leaders are adamant that the marketing approach can be applied -- and they have employed it -- without compromising the gospel.  Really?

First of all, the gospel and, more significantly, the person of Jesus Christ do not fit into any marketing strategy.  They are not "products" to be "sold."  They cannot be refashioned or image-adjusted to appeal to the felt needs of our consumer-happy culture.  Any attempt to do so compromises to some degree the truth of who Christ is and what He has done for us.  For example, if the lost are considered consumers and a basic marketing "commandment" says that the customer must reign supreme, then whatever may be offensive to the lost must be discarded, revamped, or downplayed. . . .

Secondly, if you want to attract the lost on the basis of what might interest them, for the most part you will be appealing to and accommodating their flesh. Wittingly or unwittingly, that seems to be the standard operating procedure of seeker-friendly churches.  They mimic what's popular in our culture: top-forty and performance-style music, theatrical productions, stimulating multi-media presentations, and thirty-minutes-or-less positive messages.  The latter, more often than not, are topical, therapeutic, and centered in self-fulfillment -- how the Lord can meet one's needs and help solve one's problems. . . .

Thousands of churches here and abroad have completely restructured themselves as outreach centers, for the unchurched.  This, by the way, is not biblical.  The church is for the maturing and equipping of the saints, who then go out to reach the lost. . . .

The vast majority of those who attend seeker-friendly fellowships profess to be believers.  Yet most were drawn to those churches by the same worldly allurements that were meant to entice the unchurched, and they continue to attend, being fed the same biblically anemic diet created for the wooing of unbelievers.  At best, they receive the skimmed milk of the Word; at worst, pablum contaminated with "profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" (1 Tim.6:20). . . .

The overriding message from psychologically driven Willow Creek and Saddleback is that the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit are insufficient for delivering a person from a habitual sin and for transforming his or her life into one that is fruitful and pleasing to God. . . .

T.A. McMahon, "The Seeker-Friendly Way of Doing Church," The Berean Call, March 2004


Joe said...

If the Holy Spirit doesn't "attract" them, nothing else will.

Put another way, if we live by the arts, they will die by the arts.

ali said...

There are many goats, but few sheep. Seldom do the lost go to a mega seeker friendly church to hear truth. They go for many, MANY reasons, but to find truth, probably not.

We have paraded our sins before His face, and now He will bring His judgment before ours.

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

If your church has changed to become more relevant, chances are, before the change was complete, it became irrelevant.

The Gospel is relevant; the Bible is relevant; Old Truth is relevant; Preaching is relevant. Those things never change because God never changes.

But the world changes. And just the time your new culturally relevant gimmick becomes popular, some newly styled gimmick will come up and surpass yours before the shine is off and your gimmick will be irrelevant.

Ron Livesay said...

And the biggest problem of all for the "seeker-friendly" churches: There aren't any "seekers."

"As it is written: 'There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.'" (Romans 3:10-11, NKJV).

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Ron, I disagree. Man can seek God, and God tells man to seek Him:

Deut. 4:29 - "But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD they God, thou shalt find him,
if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul."
1 Chron. 16:11 – “seek his face”
1 Chron. 28:9 - “If you seek Him, He will be found by you”
2 Chron. 15:2 – “If you seek him…” Many more in 2 Chron.
Ps. 9:10 – “those who seek you”
Ps. 22:26 – “they who seek the Lord”
Ps. 34:10 – “those who seek the Lord”
Ps. 40:16 – “all who seek you”
Ps. 69:6 – “may those who seek you”
Ps. 119:10 – “I seek you with all my heart”
Is. 55:6 - “Seek the Lord while He may be found”
Jer. 29:13 - "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me
with all your heart."
Hos. 10:12 – “it is time to seek the Lord”
Zeph. 2:3 - “Seek the Lord”
Acts 17:27 - “so that they should seek the Lord”
2 Cor. 3:12-18 - “Whoever turns to the Lord”
Heb. 11:6 - “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”

If man can seek God without God first regenerating him (ala Augustinianism/Calivinism) then all these passages are nonsense.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Although I agree that there are no "seekers" for "seeker-friendly" churches, because those who seek God aren't seeking programs and entertainment.

Ron Livesay said...


I did not post my comment in order to start a debate about Calvinism. I know you prefer to avoid that, so I won't get into it. Scripture most certainly complements itself rather than contradicting itself.

Your second response to my comment gets to the point that the "seeker friendly" churches have nothing of substance to offer.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


You may not have desired to start a debate, but the passage you chose is a standard Calvinist "proof text" as to why there are no seekers, rather than the real reason is that real seekers aren't looking for fluff. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,

AMEN to this post! We need nothing more than to lift the name of Jesus Christ up and preach the truth, and the Holy Spirit will draw people to the Lord. Those who repent and believe the Gospel will be saved, sans gimmicks.

The "seeker" / "purpose driven" / "felt needs" method only attracts and feeds the flesh.