Culture and the Church: The Evolution of Modern Methods- Part 2: Seeker-Sensitive Churches

The Seeker-Sensitive Church movement has been defined most famously by Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, Illinois and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.  These churches focus on making the gospel relevant and accessible to seekers (people who do not know Jesus or have had little experience with church).  This is done through designing the ministry model of the church around what seekers desire to see and not to see when they come to church.  Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback, went throughout the heighborhoods around his church before he even started doing ministry to take surveys of what the seekers who lived in that geographic area thought about and desired in a church.  Rick’s church has become greatly successful which he credits mostly to his purpose-driven ministry philosophy.  These churches are known for not only their size but the level of production that defines their ministries from week to week.  The church’s messages mainly focus on an evangelism and series topics that are non-confrontational and seeker-friendly such as ‘The Purpose Driven Life- Living a Life of Purpose.”  The models of Willow Creek and Saddleback have been imitated by many churches around the globe.  These churches bring many people to faith in Jesus Christ through their heavy emphasis on evangelism.

Pros: This method has an easy and comfortable atmosphere for seekers, a focus on the presentation of the gospel and the needs of those who do not know Christ, and consistent numbers of people coming to faith in Christ.

Cons: This method has a tendency to make church so much about the people who attend church and their needs that it loses an accurate picture of what it means to follow Christ.  Christians are not called to live a coushy and comfortable lives enjoying the luxry of a church that caters to their every need, but rather they are called to live lives of radical surrender and devotion to Jesus and to carry out His mission in the world.  The other issue is the potential lack of spiritual depth.  If the messages are always catered to meet the needs of seekers, how will believers grow in Christ and develop a hunger for more of Him through studying His Word? Discipleship and deeper biblical training are essential so that the Christians in the church can continue to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus.