Are you familiar with the parable of the sower?
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
I’d like to focus on the rocky ground as it correlates to the seeker-sensitive church movement.
First, I’ll say this. I don’t agree with the nomenclature “Seeker-Sensitive”. Does it not imply that all other church models are “Seeker-Abrasive”? The model is one that focuses on attraction. In other words leadership sits in a room and brainstorms environments, series, events & gimmicks through a filter that says, “How can we make it about them?”.
This becomes a model of “Christ +”.
Is not Christ enough? Are the words of Scripture lacking in any way that we need to polish them with smoke and mirrors? Are we so insecure or unconvinced that the Word of God cannot “attract” on its own that we must create people-centric environments where the coolness factor of the stage and programs supersedes and often muddies Scripture?
Am I just being a stick in the mud? Maybe. You might say, “Whoa, Brian, our church is growing faster than surrounding churches and even made it in the top-10 of Outreach Magazine’s fastest-growing churches nationwide … so … we’re pretty awesome.”
Or maybe, “Brian, you just don’t understand. We need to create relevant, attractional environments so that people will be intrigued and come hear the word of God.”
Or perhaps, “Jesus spoke in a way people could relate to. We’re just doing a modern version of the same thing.”
I have no doubt that people come to know Christ through these types of environments. My argument is that these environments can potentially be toxic to spiritual, Biblical maturity. These environments treat people like an only-child. Everything is catered to their needs from the music & environment to the ministries and events. We’ve created a church full of comfortable people with feel-good messages that continue to grow the church but not strengthen it.
A large, growing church doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy church. Fungus grows, bacteria grows, cancer grows. Growth is not a measure of health.
In my opinion a church with the priority of attraction is rocky ground. Growth may be quick, but without deep roots in healthy soil it will not last long. When your goal is attraction then naturally you allocate and prioritize your resources to attract. My question is if you’re allocating the majority of your resources to attract, what is left over to mature and make disciples? In all this spiritual milk when is there time for steak?
Is giving down or lacking in your church? The economy is an excuse.
Are there a lack of mentors? Lack of time is an excuse.
Are people knocking down the door to be on your worship team, yet your’re struggling to get people to meet together in prayer?
Do people willingly place themselves under church leadership’s authority?
Is your women’s ministry blooming but men in the church are someone detached?
Are disciples making disciples?
Churches with rocky ground cannot complain when 20% is carrying 80%. Look at your values. Look at the comfort of your people. Look at how you allocate your resources. Look at what you espouse from the front of the room. At the end of the day we will not stand in front of God and give an account for the coolness of our church and the comfort of our people.
I’ll end with this: If you were to remove the lights, the camera, the action, the gimmicks, the coffee shop, the fountain and the fog machine would your church continue to grow? What can you simplify so that He increases and we decrease?
What are your thoughts?