Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Seek Ye First Seekers

I think I have identified my second least favorite type of Christian church to attend: the Seeker Church.

For those of you out of the Christianese loop, Seeker Churches are those designed for the “seeker,” a term generally meaning someone who isn’t a confirmed, card-carrying Christian.

Such churches have services (the standard Sunday meeting) that focus on how to become a Christian. No, wait, let me clarify. In such churches, virtually ALL services are focused on how to become a Christian.

I have a few problems with this model.

First, such use of the term “seeker” implies that at some point one stops being a seeker. At some point, in the philosophy of such churches, one no longer looks first for the kingdom of G-d and his righteousness; that at some point, you have arrived and can stop working.

I remember when my friend Beth Amsbury first heard the term “seeker service.” She cocked her head in true confusion and asked, “Who wouldn’t that service be for?”

Second, by their very nature, Seeker Churches are working against themselves.

In order to attract a newbie to your community, you have to first have a community. And that community has to be an example of the type of community that you want the newbie to become part of.

So for a church to draw in newbies, one needs to already have a group of oldbies, those that are showing what it means to be in community with Christ.

But if your main focus is to talk only to newbies, what are the oldbies doing there? What are you saying about the faith, when your sermons don’t apply to people in the faith?

To be fair, the Seeker Church Catherine and I attended recently that prompted these thoughts does add a nugget for “veterans” at the end of the sermon. And they also add programming like small groups and affinity groups to help feed those in the congregation that have already said “yes!” to G-d.

But that is my point exactly: such groups have to ADD to who they are at their core in order to feed those that are their core.

I have been a member of a number of churches that draw a large number of folks that fall into this specialized “seeker” category – but none of them have been “Seeker Churches.” They’ve just been themselves, with an open door.

In fact, what I believe makes such churches so “seeker” friendly is the fact that they don’t separate the community into categories like “seeker” and “old-hand-in-the-clique.”

Instead, they act as if we all are seekers of the kingdom, that we all are sinners looking for salvation, that we all are part of the same community.

And, after all, isn’t that what the kingdom of heaven looks like?

Just my thoughts,


Up soon: Why Seeker Focused Groups Naturally Fail At Jesus’ Great Commission

No comments: