i have a friend, whom we'll name Stacy. Stacy has a relationship with Jesus and really desires to know Him more. In fact, she's been searching for a church now for the past couple months that offers a real authentic, passionate love for God in everything they do. Burnt by religion, she aggressively began a search to find something supernatural - something that would offer her more than what the rest of the world offers. And as she searched she noticed her heart growing hard and bitter, not really understanding why. Stacy hasn't been to church now in 3 weeks. She deeply desires to be a part of a family but everything just seems too political, too structured, too big and too organized.
A lot of people would categorize Stacy as someone who was not mature in their faith enough to look past the faults of the church to get to Jesus. But as you get to know her you see there is a deep longing and burning in her heart to learn, grow and excel more than anyone who've ever met. In fact, at her last church she helped service the worship team, but as things became more dry and boxed in, she decided to inquiry of the pastor of why things have become so ordered. her answer? "If we lose order in the worship- we lose control of the people." What did this say to Stacy? It said we care more about manipulating people through organized religion so they behave the way we want them to than we do about the people encountering and be transformed by the presence of God. ouch.
So why do we even gather on Sunday mornings? What's the purpose of it all, really? Hebrews 10:25 asks us to not forsake the fellowship or the gathering of believers (the saints) and even to come together singing spiritual songs, worshipping with one another (Ephesians 5:19). But the Bible seems really clear, we cannot have fellowship with one another if we don't first have fellowship with Him. "But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)
So what is this really saying about when we come together? The focus isn't AT ALL on unbelievers. Not one bit. Nowhere can you find one scripture that supports a "service" even catered to unbelievers, or by definition "seekers". So does this mean being "seeker sensitive" is unbiblical? I would dare to say, yes! Jesus didn't even talk about such things. In fact, He tried to mess organized religion up in His 3 years of ministry. He told us that the ekklesia, the Church, was called to "go out" and make disciples, to persuade men by our good works so they can see Jesus glorified (Matthew 5:16). Go out from where? Well from our gatherings of course.
But what about people like Stacy? How will she know how to live, to persuade men with her life that Jesus is real to her? What about others who only know how to preach organized religion but not live their life in radicall real relationship with Jesus? What's different in what we offer from the rest of the world if we have no authenticity?
Ephesians 4 says, "And Christ Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ". This is what empowers us to out from where we gather to be light to the rest of the world. And though most of our "churches" and "services" operate like an monarchy - one leader with elders under him, then service hosts under them, then congregants under them....and even children considered to be under them :( I really don't see that system really displaying what Jesus asked us to do. But we're asked to each bring our gifts when we gather - that we were each called to His service, for His glory. (1 Peter 4:10-11) I think by man's definition, being the Church could look pretty messy.
Think about this for a moment. "The wind blows where it wants to. You hear its sound, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. That's the way it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) Wind usually messes things up alittle and sometimes there's no explanation for it. Why does man feel the need to explain every move of God? We are so uncomfortable with messy supernatural things! We have such a need to feel comfortable in a "controlled" atmosphere. I'm not saying lets forsake all order and do as the Corinthians did, walking in the supernatural power with no wisdom or love - but does that mean we lose that raw and radical realness in our services for the sake of that order? Ultimately what brings greater satisfaction?
If the church doesn't wake up soon to this reality, our gatherings will get smaller and smaller. The unchurched will not be fooled (in fact you don't see unbelievers coming to church anymore, new members are usually old members somewhere else). And now even the churched are leaving, in hope to find a people radically pursuing God. It may just mean we let go of our agenda, our programs set for the day, or lose ourselves in worship. Actually it changes the whole face of things...it changes the whole force behind why we gather. We no longer come to get, but to give. And we leave EVERYTIME transformed, ready to take the world on as our inheritance because we know we can and there's an undeniable trust in who Jesus is in us. Isn't that what we're all really seeking? If that's what "seeker sensitive" means, then I want that! - But nothing less.