It has become increasingly popular for churches across America and around the world to be “seeker-sensitive.” Their goal is to attract those who would normally not be interested in attending church. Once the unbeliever attends and feels comfortable, the Gospel would be preached and hopefully result in a conversion. The key to this movement is to be “culturally relevant.”
Supporters of this movement quote Scriptures out of context by the Apostle Paul which include:
Colossians 4:5: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”
1 Corinthians 9:22-23: “To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”
At first glance the seeker-sensitive movement is a noble idea. Who would not want as many people as possible to come to a saving faith in Christ by appealing to an entertainment-oriented culture?
Yet one must approach this movement with caution and discernment. The Gospel is not a “piece of marketing material” that can be packaged and sold in a worldly manner. It is a wondrous, free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8, Romans 3:24) that by its’ message offends many people (1 Cor 1:18). One comes to salvation on God’s terms, not on man’s terms.
It is important to remember that the convicting and regenerating power of the Holy Spirit is not dependent on the clever marketing tactics of man. We need to understand that part of being culturally relevant is to point out the futility and foolishness of what the world deems important.
Does it follow then that a pastor or church cannot use marketing through the media for their church? Are power point illustrations, music, theater, videos, community outreaches and other means of illustration and evangelism prohibited? Of course not. However, it is of the upmost importance to preach the holiness and majesty of God, while emphasizing the depraved conditions of mankind that needs to repent and put their faith in Jesus.
The reality is this, if a pastor or church attracts its members with a couple Bible verses combined with funny stories, then the person attracted to this type of watered-down Gospel will expect it in the future and dislike the Biblical Gospel. For example, if you feed a child sweets each meal daily for months, they will rage and have a withdrawal effect when you replace the junk with a healthy diet!
If you have been attending a church where repentance is not preached on at least a semi regular basis, God’s Word is not being proclaimed, people are not convicted of their sin, then alarm bells should be going off.
The last thing a Christian wants to do is sow “defective seeds” that misrepresent the Lord’s Gospel. For example, telling people that if they become a Christian then good things will automatically happen in their life, or they will receive material rewards, is an unbiblical promise.
Also, preachers who focus on a “sinner’s prayer” need to be warned about the type of “seed” they are sowing. Leading an unrepentant person in a cookie-cutter prayer and pronouncing them converted is unbiblical and dangerous. It leads to a church full of false converts looking for the next emotional high although they have not been born again.
For those involved in the promotion of a seeker sensitive church, please consider if you’re Biblical in your approach. For example, Galatians 1:10 states “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” In other words, are you being true to the Gospel message? Although Paul would present the Gospel in a comprehensible way to different people groups, he never altered the core of repentance and faith.
As a matter of fact, Jesus said you must pick up your cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). You must confess Him as Lord and be willing to give it all for Him. Jesus’s disciples certainly understood this; they were persecuted and martyred for their faith. Jesus said in Matthew 10:22 “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake” and Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:12 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
However, if we confess Jesus as Lord and endure to the end we will reign with God forever (2 Timothy 2:12). When we face times of persecution, we must remember that Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33) and is with us always (Matt. 28:20).
In conclusion, it is fine to be culturally relevant, but not at the expense of the Gospel. Christians have the responsibility of evangelizing faithfully,it is God’s job to draw them to Him and convert them.
Here is an example of a church using an unbiblical approach to evangelism by using a Star Wars theme to attract people on Easter Sunday 2016. How absurd!
For a short video from the television show Wretched on this topic click here
A great book on the topic of false converts and a watered down Gospel is Ray Comfort’s book: God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life: The Myth of the Modern Message.