User-Friendly Churches

I’m sure that most of you are familiar with the terms “seeker-sensitive” or “seeker-friendly” to designate a certain category of church. The term is ubiquitous in circles like those in which the Pulpit & Pen runs. It is used of a gamut of churches, from entirely heretical Lakewood Church in Houston and milquetoast Six Flags Over Jesus-type experiences like LifeChurch.tv and Relevance Church to blood-and-guts guns-and-profanity-and-sexual-innuendo get-a-DWI-then-step-down-then-wait-four-weeks-then-just-start-“preachin'”-again Heath Mooneyham’s Ignite Church.

Many trees have given their lives and many pixels been darkened discussing the nature of seeker-friendly churches, their motivations, their attempts at biblically justifying their existence and modus operandi, the ways in which they blow through millions of dollars in valiant attempts to entertain people who hate God and stay only a few years behind the world’s trends. One of the main voices in this venture has just gone to his reward in the arms of the Redeemer, but the Lord has raised up others to speak truth to itching ears, such as Chris Rosebrough and, if we may be so bold, the Pulpit & Pen program as well, among many.

Because of their visibility, the discerning Christian is well-served to spend time calling out the sins of the false teachers and false prophets that lead these churches. The Word of God also sets a significant priority on exposing and warning of them, so it is a commendable practice, to be sure. To expose the evil of these false teachers is to (if you do it right) proclaim truth from a public stage, illuminate darkness, and set in starkest contrast the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets did it. We should probably go ahead and follow their example.

However, partly because the false teacher at the head is such an obvious target and partly because of the relative vagueness and inaccessibility of the congregants, the criticism and call to repentance usually begins and ends at the Head Wolf, rather than extending to any significant extent to the wolflets, without whom the Wolf can’t survive.

This leads into a crucial point – nobody chooses false teaching in the stead of the adherent. The adherent may be manipulated, may be lied to, may be love-bombed; any number of influences may play a part in the person selecting his worldview. But the person chooses what he will believe. Notice who is the subject in such passages as 1 Tim 4:1, 2 Tim 4:3, and Prov 1:20-31. It is the person who believes the false doctrine, rather than the false teacher himself.

Notice the language of choice and of willful deviation from the commands of the Lord. The lost have no one to blame but themselves for their choices and self-reinforcing depravity. False teachers derive their power from the consent of the deceived. They have no power that their followers don’t give them. How many false teachers have come and gone, having made no mark on history? They weren’t able to gather a large enough following to enrich themselves significantly, so instead of becoming rich and powerful like a TD Jakes or Joyce Meyer, or forming their own identifiable religion like a Joseph Smith, they scraped by. They needed to be enabled by disciples, and the disciples didn’t stick around in sufficient number.

Thus, what we have here is exactly what 2 Tim 4:3 tells us – the wolflets seek to get their itching ears scratched. Someone who has paid to sit in the floor section at Lakewood is using JoelO to get his spiritual high and/or his standing in the community. JoelO, of course, is only too happy to take his money, show his rear end in a seat on TV, and use him right back. It’s a mutually parasitic relationship. We don’t recognise the name of the guy occupying the paid floor seat at Lakewood, because his face doesn’t get on TV or the covers of books in Mardel, but he himself bears plenty of guilt for using the religio-social apparatus that Lakewood or whatever other church provides to get what he is looking for.

If he were looking for Jesus, he would seek out a group of believers who are walking with Jesus and who actually love the Scripture, because “the sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3).

Allow me to let you in on a little secret. We who love the Scripture have allowed these wolves and wolflets to subvert the language of Scripture. It’s happened plenty of times.

  • Papists have stolen the word “catholic”, which means “universal Christian”, though the Roman Catholic Church is far from universal.
  • Eastern conciliarists have stolen the word “orthodox”, which means “correct doctrine”, though the Eastern Orthodox Church’s doctrine contains many fundamental errors.
  • Mormons have stolen the words “church” and “of Jesus Christ” and “saints”, though they do not constitute a church, do not follow Jesus, and are not saints.
  • And now, in that same line of thinking, we have “seeker-sensitive” or “seeker-friendly”.

Yet what does the Scripture say about who seeks whom in the man-God relationship?

Romans 3:10-11 – as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD…”
John 4:23 – But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

So, the lost man does not seek God. God seeks the lost man. But these wolves and wolflets use the word “seeker-friendly” because they want to pander to the wants and felt needs of people who hate God, whom they call “seekers”. Yet there are no seekers. There is only one Seeker: the Creator of the universe. Thus a true seeker-friendly church would actually be that which devotes itself carefully and entirely to the Word of God in order to attempt to be friendly to and please God, the Seeker, in every way.

Let’s take back the terms “seeker-friendly” and “seeker-sensitive”. Instead, since these churches are merely amusement parks for the rebellious who are at enmity with God and who are seeking to leverage the experience, the status, and the visibility for their own personal pleasures and gains, I propose this much more accurate appellation: User-Friendly Churches.

[Contributed by Rhology]

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