Owen Strachan and the Danger of the Seeker-Sensitive Church
The ministry of the church thus did not appeal to my flesh as an immature young man. Though a young believer, I sometimes found myself more interested in sports and the social scene than the church’s offerings. This was precisely because the church was not worldly. The church seemed boring in comparison. The church was boring in comparison, at least in natural terms.
How tragic it would have been for me if my church was exciting in a secular way. I do not exaggerate when I say that I very likely would not have trusted Christ as my Savior in such an environment. If the church was worldly, in other words, I would have liked the worldly parts and not the spiritual parts.
The defense of the “seeker-sensitive church” has long been that we need to appeal to non-Christians to get them to come into church, then we can preach the gospel. The argument is that if there’s nothing to attract them to church, they’ll never get interested and we won’t have the chance to “have them ask Jesus into their heart.”
Strachan does a brilliant job in putting his finger on the problem at the root of this thinking. If we make the church look just like the world, we may attract people, but it won’t be for the right reason. They will be interested in everything but the reason they should be there. We’ll miss the opportunity to preach the gospel to them and devalue the true mission of the church in one fell swoop.
Having come from such a church, I have seen this danger first hand. Looking back at my former church and what they have done since my leaving, I see it has gone even deeper in the “attractional” philosophy. It saddens me to see photos of their “worship services” with more production value than most concerts. To believe that this is necessary to bring people in misses the point of the gospel and church as a whole.
Church is not supposed to just look like a sanitized version of the world. It is supposed to be set apart. It is supposed to be different. It is supposed to cause the world to ask about the joy within us (I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere). Every effort to make the church look like the world in an effort to draw people in is simply a bait-and-switch scheme that does a disservice to the church, the non-believer, and Christ himself.
As has been said, what you win them with you win them to. Sadly, for many churches, this is spotlights and smoke machines, rather than the risen Christ.