After all, they’re making converts left and right while most of Christianity is on the decline. And their success isn’t built on political correctness, sanitized statements of belief, or a relaxed list of rules.
Most of you commented that you want to be friendly to “seekers” at your church, but you drew the line at creating a bunch of rules, even if that’s what seekers crave.
So it’s official, no one who reads this blog really wants to be “seeker friendly.”
Okay, that’s not true. But I ask you today: just how “seeker friendly” are you willing to be?
A Seeker Friendly Caricature
You probably have an image in your mind when I say “seeker friendly.” You’re probably thinking of a church that spends a lot of money on a big spectacle, a church you might call “entertaining,” but of course you mean that in a bad way. I’ve featured some of the most extreme churches here, the kind that put on rodeos and other ridiculous publicity stunts.
But we all want to be friendly to visitors. Paul was the original “seeker friendly” pastor. He said he wanted to be “all things to all people” so he might win a few.
But Paul had a line he wouldn’t cross. He got up in Peter’s grill about circumcision. He wasn’t going to please the Jewish people by enforcing Jewish customs.
And you and I have a line we won’t cross. If you thought of a caricature of a church when I said “seeker friendly,” that is probably the line you won’t cross. I will not go to Ed Young Jr’s church and watch him preach about sex while sitting on a bed on stage in order to be seeker friendly.
One Thing For All People
The strange part of “seeker friendly” churches is exactly that all of you probably have the same caricature in your head of a super seeker friendly church. We all have one of these churches in our town. And they are all using basically the same strategy. A seeker friendly church is going to have a somewhat particular sound of music, a style of worship, a kind of pastor. There’s a formula to it. Lots of other churches try to emulate these uber-cool churches, with varying degrees of success.
That’s kind of a funny reversal of Paul’s saying. By being seeker friendly, churches first tried to figure out what people wanted, and adapt themselves. People wear jeans, so the pastor will wear jeans. People listen to guitar bands, so let’s have guitar bands. People like shopping for clothes from shops with nonsense names, so let’s give our churches nonsense names.
But now, rather than being all things to all people, aren’t we assuming that all seekers are the same and they want the same things? We’re being one thing for all people, and they can take it or leave it, which is also a very familiar strategy.
This Is The Way We’ve Always Done Church
Many churches have changed a lot in twenty years. A lot of us spent a lot of energy pushing out the old church culture, putting the organ and choir robes in storage, and reinventing church. We call ourselves “innovative” and “relevant” and other meaningless buzz words to make ourselves seem “cutting edge,” whatever that means.
I have personally never worn a minister’s robe, and I don’t plan to.
But what if I had to? What if the culture changed in the next twenty years and people wanted pastors in robes and liturgy and organ music? What if the culture we’ve worked so hard to build is just a passing fad? How seeker friendly would I be willing to be? How much of my church culture would I be willing to put in storage?
It will happen. Just when we’ve worked hard enough to retire, a bunch of young Christian know-it-alls will say we’re out of date, and make us sing a bunch of new-fangled music that we can’t understand. That will be the test: are we really seeker friendly, or are we just in love with the culture we’ve built. Some of us will react with excitement and gladly throw out our “contemporary” music. Some of us will retreat to an outdated church full of gray haired people to listen to some crusty old guy in blue jeans play a guitar.
What do you think will happen in thirty years? How hard will it be for you to give up the way you love church to be done? Or if you’re already of retirement age, tell us about how hard it already was for you to watch the church change the way it has.