148: What is the “Seeker Sensitive” Movement?
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 30:30 — 27.9MB)
The desire of church leaders to reach irreligious or unchurched people is certainly not a new desire, and there have been many movements throughout church history influenced by that simple desire. One of those movements influenced by that desire is a modern movement within North American Evangelical circles now known as the “seeker sensitive” movement.
This modern movement has its roots in the philosophies of mega-church Willow Creek Community Church (pastored by Bill Hybels) in the Chicagoland region.
In this episode, Kenny starts off by giving us the multiple definitions and understandings of the term “seeker sensitive” and some of the ramifications of this modern movement. He also highlights the core values of this modern movement, as well as its pros and cons.
Kenny makes it clear that he believes church leaders ought to be cognizant and aware of the fact that there might be people in the church service that do not understand the Gospel, the Bible, modern Christian lingo, or modern Evangelical sub-culture, therefore we ought to be cautious about how we articulate certain things from the pulpit, being sensitive to their lack of knowledge.
In his typical simply style, Kenny gives us illustrations and key points as to how we ought to view “seekers” in the church and how church leadership ought to approach unbelievers in the midst of the worship gathering.
Kenny believes that the Gospel itself is offensive to the natural human mind, so when the Gospel is proclaimed, it will offend some people (and it should). So, with that in mind, Kenny believes preachers and church leaders ought to be cautious not to offend unbelievers with any non-Gospel-related topics.
The other important element Kenny highlights in this episode is the primary purpose for church services. Kenny tells us that New Testament themes point to the fact that church services ought to be the place where Christians gather together for worship and to hear the Word preached. While we certainly ought to be sensitive to the fact that there might be “seekers” in the room, we must always remain faithful to this primary purpose.
Kenny says that this is where many churches get it wrong; being too seeker sensitive, sometimes even catering to the seekers or seeking to entertain unbelievers to ensure that those unbelievers come back to church. This is where many churches end up compromising the quality of the worship service or they neglect rightly preaching the Word of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18
Kenneth E. Ortiz (M.Div.) is a professor and recruiter at Bethlehem College and a pastor at Cities Church in St. Paul, MN. He has 15+ years of vocational ministry experience. He’s also a podcaster, author, and Ph.D. student. Kenneth lives in Bloomington, MN with his wife Malaina, they have one daughter.