I have been troubled for a while now (just ask my dh) about the ‘Seeker Friendly’ movement. It grates on my nerves and quite frankly I think it is a wrong approach and focus. But where is the line between being aware that people are coming to your church that have never heard the gospel and feeding the people that are already there? Where is the line on what you allow to enter God’s house and influence the worship of Him? Can you apply the term “All’s fair in love and war” to this situation? Is all fair in filling the pews? Now, I’m not saying that all churches that use this approach are only focused on filling the pews; but, I think the focus can get skewed when you continually focus on the ‘new’ people.
I know I have posted about this before and I will probably continue to because it is bothersome to me that the Church is denigrating herself to please the unbelievers. When did learning and worshiping the Creator of the Universe become about tickling men’s ears? Are we so unsure of the life-changing message of Christ that we have to pander to the masses to get them to come to our church just so they can feel good about themselves and continue on as they were? Has the world become so deprived that the Church has to use any measure to entice them to come? Well, yes the world is that bad. BUT, the Church isn’t helping.
I realize that I’m being harsh. I do. But, honestly I am tired of the excuses that the Body of Christ is offering for the alterations that are being made to the way the Church worships. When did the focus change, when did it become about the ‘Seeker’ and not about Christ? Why do we feel like it is our job to get people to come to church, I thought that was the work of the Holy Spirit? Isn’t it the Spirit that calls all men to salvation?
Where is the line? And who draws it?
I am a black and white person. Right is right and wrong is wrong. There are very few really, truly gray areas if you think about it. Many gray areas come from not wanting to offend or make hard choices. I know that that is not a popular opinion, that’s okay, I can handle it. It doesn’t win friends or influence people either. People don’t like to know that there is a right and wrong, they want to believe that whatever they are doing is fine as long as it’s not hurting anyone else.
Blurring the lines so that we can do the things we want to do. What we fail to realize is that the line is still there and we are mocking God with our arrogance.
So I ask again, Where is the line? How far will we go to get people to come into our church buildings? Will we play more upbeat music that sounds more like what they are used to hearing in the world so they will feel comfortable coming in? How about setting the ‘stage’ like we are putting on a play with sets and lighting? What about the leaders on stage wearing costumes to lead worship? What about using secular music in worshiping a Holy God? Or not mentioning how much God abhors sin and our need for a Savior and just glossing over it instead.
Where is the line? I think we have slid past it in our attempt to climb a slippery slope that we had no business being on in the first place. Now, I am not against “Praise and Worship” music. It has its place. I am also not opposed to using staging and lights to make the message more effective. However, our worship should be founded –rooted, grounded – in truth, not emotion. (Kay Arthur)
On to the use of secular music and/or video clips in worship services. Again, I am not completely against them. There is some music that doesn’t have an ungodly message that can be used to make or further a point. There are other songs that should never be sung in worship services. The ones whose very words fly in the face of all that the Bible is teaching. How can we stomach the use of vulgar lyrics in our churches? Well, we tie it in to the message we are presenting. As long as it fits the ‘theme’ of our service, all’s fair, right? Video clips from movies or T.V. shows that are known to be morally bankrupt may have a place, in small doses, in teaching us what not to do; but should we be watching them during services? Should we have to put a caveat or disclaimer in our bulletins that says that we do not endorse all of the material presented in our services? If we are showing them or singing them, we are endorsing them unless we hold them up to the Light of the Word and strongly show how they are morally bankrupt. Again, I ask if this is a line that we should be dancing on.
Now before you think that I am exclusivistic or stuck in the olden times wishing for days gone by, let me tell you what I think church should be like. (By the way, I am esclusivistic –Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life and only by Him can we reconcile with God) I read the New Testament accounts of the early church and am amazed at what the Holy Spirit accomplished through these people. At the end of Acts 2 we see about three thousand people accepting salvation because they saw the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of godly men. The entire book of Acts is filled with the preaching of the Word and the salvation of souls. And none of it was done by altering what they started out preaching. They preached Jesus crucified, buried, and raised again. “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:42-43
If we were living in complete abandon and surrender to God, our lives would make a difference for the Kingdom and the love of God shining through us would attract people to Him. Not to us or to our church, but to Him. The only thing of value that I have to offer is the message of God coming to earth as a man, dying and taking my sins upon Himself and raising from the dead to conquer death and sever the hold that hell had on me. There is nothing else of importance. There is nothing else that matters.
Our focus is wrong if we are trying to make our churches ‘pretty and inviting’ and then not tell them the truth of their sin and the truth of God’s love for them. There is balance to be had, but I think the scales are heavily weighted against us in that we are sinful creatures who sway to what is easiest. The book of Revelation talks about seven churches and God lays out the grievances against them. What will Christ say of our churches? Will we be like the church in Ephesus who forsook their first love, or the church in Pergamum who allowed idol worship in their midst, or the church in Sardis who has a reputation of being alive but is dead. Will he find us lukewarm and spit us out because we could not stand for the Truth?
Where is the Line? I can’t answer that. Only One can.