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Snares of the Modern Church – Part XI: Seeker Sensitivity

by | Aug 30, 2023

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Continuing our series on the pantheon of modern church snares, the phenomenon known as the “Seeker Sensitive Movement” merits particular attention. Born out of a desire for rapid church growth in the late 20th century, this unbiblical methodology puts the focus squarely on accommodating the so-called seekers. It is an approach that caters to cultural sensitivities, reshaping the gospel into a more palatable form. The premise is simple: minimize the controversy, sidestep confrontation, entertain the goats, and you will fill the pews.

What advocates of the seeker-sensitive movement fail to recognize is that the essence of Christianity is itself a confrontation—a confrontation between human sinfulness and the Holiness of God, a confrontation that was so offensive it led to the crucifixion of Christ. By choosing to avoid topics that might rock the boat, seeker-sensitive churches make this critical error. They replace the rock of offense, the cornerstone that is Christ, with a collection of pebbles that can be easily stepped over. Far from causing people to stumble into truth, they create smooth pathways that lead to nowhere but destruction.

It would be naive to assume that this seeker-sensitive phenomenon only exists in churches that openly identify with such an approach. The sad reality is that its tentacles have reached into the very fabric of modern Christianity, tainting the message even in corners where you’d least expect it. For instance, take Andy Stanley, a well-known pastor who has been exposed as openly accommodating to varying degrees of affirming and accepting viewpoints on homosexuality that are at complete odds with biblical teachings, all in the name of not alienating these “seekers.” Or look at Rick Warren, a Southern Baptist pastor of immense influence, who is notably silent on the confronting of sin, choosing instead to focus on more “positive” messages or acts of charity that won’t chase attendees away.

And it’s not just the mega-church leaders who are susceptible to this snare. Even the everyday Southern Baptist or Evangelical church is caught up in the influence of this movement. In these congregations, confronting sin or doctrinal error is often treated like a landmine—something to be carefully avoided rather than directly addressed with the compass of biblical truth. Pastors and church members alike often operate under the ill-conceived notion that such confrontations should be avoided at all costs, all in the name of maintaining an illusion of unity. This is not unity—it’s a grave marker for truth, indicating where it has been buried to maintain an artificial harmony that serves no one and certainly not the cause of Christ.

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This superficial idea of unity contrasts sharply with biblical unity. Biblical unity is never unity for its own sake but always unity around truth. It is a unity that not only tolerates but welcomes confrontation when eternal matters are at stake. Jesus Himself was divisive. He was the stone the builders rejected, a rock of offense, yet the cornerstone of the Church. The Apostle Paul, too, exhorted believers to speak the truth in love, knowing full well that truth often divides before it unites.

In an age where the seeker-sensitive ethos is almost universally pervasive, Christians must recommit to unity founded on truth, no matter how uncomfortable, convicting, or indeed offensive that truth may be. Only then will the Church be a city set on a hill, undimmed and unashamed, a beacon of eternal hope in a world desperately in need of the real, confrontational, and life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.

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