Sense & Sensitivity: Why Itâ€™s Time to Abandon the Seeker-Sensitive Model on the Out of Ur Leadership blog says, “Some younger church leaders, myself included, believe that we need to abandon the seeker/believer dichotomy in the church and practice a ‘radical hospitality’ instead.”
This suggests to me that (a) the dichotomy truly does exist and that (b) it’s a false one.
In a nutshell, this dichotomy is based on the whole inside/outside paradigm, black and white. When the crux of everything is which side of the line you’re on, you get seeker sensitivity and you end up with far to much resting on a single yes/no answer. I agree with the premise that it’s time to be done with the seeker-sensitive service. Maybe I’m overstating and it’s still working for some…. but the general trend ought probably to be no new seeker-sensitive attempts and a beginning to move away from those that do exist. The linked blog entry explains why.
A few months back I was having lunch with an old friend, catching up after having lost touch for several years. He had been in a popular local seeker-sensitive church, and I had been involved in a church plant that specifically discussed whether we should adopt a seeker-sensitive model. (We had both moved on from those local church congregations by then.) In telling him why we decided not to pursue it, he observed from his own experience that our reasons were insightful, and we had made a wise choice. Whew. Not that it mattered all that much in the end — turned out we both left those churches we were in for some of the same reasons anyway.
I totally understand the reactions that seem to be growing AGAINST the “seeker-sensitive” model. I go to a church that is hardly seeker sensitive. However, I’m not willing to write off the model. I know a large number of people who have come to know Christ specifically because of seeker sensitive churches. You start off not knowing much, intimidated by all these church talk and whatnot. To be sensitive to that is not bad Christianity, it’s good stewardship. When people grow as Christians perhaps they will want to dive deeper–hopefully, anyway. That said, there are a number of churches with different models. Willow Creek has nurtured spiritual growth in many… So has my church. What’s the difference?
My attitude (for whatever it’s worth): Seeker sensitive churches are great. I wouldn’t go to one, but they are great.
Maybe the issue for me is that I haven’t seen a SS-model run in such a way as to address all the concerns I have. It does seem to work at gathering a crowd, though I wonder if cultural changes we’re seeing will serve to reduce its efficacy at even that.
The big problem for me is, once the crowd is gathered, then what? If the total focus is on getting people to ‘say the prayer’ then this is right on the money. As soon as we decide that the goal should more properly be spiritual formation, my concern starts to deepen.
Perhaps I should be cautious not to write off the model… but I do tend to think there’s a better way.