When my wife and I moved back to Florida in December, 2009, to care for her aging mother, one of the first things we did was look for a good church to become active in. It took a while. There didn’t seem to be much of anything where we would be a good fit. In our mid-to-late fifties we were either the youngest ones in the congregation or the oldest. The music was either too much like a funeral dirge or a rock concert – it lulled us to sleep or ruined our hearing. We settled on a place where the message mas mostly sound, if heavy on the prosperity Gospel side. As the emphasis of the ministry leaned more and more towards that side of preaching, and further away from evangelism and shepherding, we started seeking again.
Seeking the second time around wasn’t as difficult – we already knew a lot of places to skip! We found a home where the Gospel and an invitation was part of the preaching every week, the messages were Biblically sound, the pastoring more of the shepherding style with which we were accustomed, which is to say, very people oriented, and the music didn’t physically hurt my chest cavity. In fact, of all the places we’d been since relocating to Florida, the woman who led ‘Worship’ at this church probably understood the concept on a personal level better than any ‘worship leader’ at any of the churches we’ve visited since our return, including clearly understanding that praise and worship are two entirely different things! They are not synonymous nor are they interchangeable. Praise is lifting up while worship is bowing down, but I stray. Simply put, she ‘gets it!’ I believe that is a key element to effective, successful corporate worship. If the ‘worship leader doesn’t ‘get’ worship on a personal level; if he or she doesn’t comprehend the distinction between praise and worship; between songs, hymns and spiritual songs, it is impossible for him or her to lead others in the act.
I’m not talking about style, types of music, kinds of instruments, hymnbooks vs screens. I’m talking plain and simple about understanding how to worship God. If the leader doesn’t know how, the leader can’ lead others. It’s really that simple. And honestly, being able to perform the K-LOVE Top-40 from memory doesn’t guarantee an understanding of worship. That, sadly, is what passes for excellence and worship all too often in today’s church. In particular, in what is being called the ‘Seeker Church.’
I struggle somewhat with a number of things as I consider those terms ‘seeker’, and ‘church’ from a Biblical perspective.
I’m not a Bible scholar. I’m not a theologian. I’m just this guy. All I can do is offer my opinion and see if it makes sense. What I keep finding as I search Scripture and observe ‘Seeker Church’ pattern of ministry, is a problem. By definition, Seeker and Church are diametrically opposed terms. You can be questionably one or the other, and you can be both but you can never be both in the manner that the ministry model suggests.
By way of background, the warm, friendly, people oriented church we were part of was led by a church planter. As is the case with all true church planters, the call to plant again eventually taps you on the shoulder and says, “It’s time to move on, son. I have another job for you now.” His place was taken (read commandeered, hostile takeover, whatever) by a little-k kingdom building operation that calls itself and its method of operation – excuse me – ministry, Seeker Church.
I call it the Field of Dreams model, or the If You Build It They Will Come model, and the premise is as simple as it is without Biblical foundation, although if you ask, its followers are well prepared with a pedigree of those who came before them, shaping and perfecting the model. No, I don’t much care for it, and no, I don’t think it’s Biblical because the very concept draws from a false premise: that human beings are by their nature seeking God; therefore if you throw up a God Place where the seekers may find Him, advertise enough, program enough, and plan enough, they will seek you out.
Solomon said “An evil man seeks only rebellion;” Proverbs 17:11
Paul said: “There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God” Romans 3:11
To the contrary, Jesus said:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28 19-20 NKJV
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NKJV
Regarding the ‘Church’ part of Seeker Church, you have a huge problem Biblically. You cannot be both ‘seeker’ in the sense that the seeker church implies’ and ‘church’!
If you are willing to overlook Paul’s observation that there is no such thing as a seeker – we don’t seek after God, but rather the Holy Spirit draws us unto Him and we respond to that drawing by executing our free will and either accepting God’s gift of salvation, or we reject it, you simply cannot overlook the Biblical fact that the ‘Church’ is not the four walls where the people meet: the Church is the People! If you are ‘Ecclessia – the called out and set apart – the saints of God – THE CHURCH – you are not a seeker, in the sense the seeker church implies.
To the contrary, it is not until you have first become ‘the church’, in the Biblical sense, that you are now for the first time actually capable of being a genuine seeker! To, as a child of God, seek a closer relationship with Almighty God! Something you are absolutely incapable of, and frankly, as an unbelieving descendant of Adam, not inclined to desire.
God’s intention, described over and over again throughout Scripture, is that the Church (those who are born again believers) go out and reach out to a lost and dying world with the Gospel of Salvation and then step back while the Holy Spirit does His work in men’s hearts. Those four walls are there for primary purpose of equipping the saints to perform that function! Along with that, to facilitate corporate fellowship, prayer, discipleship, meeting each others needs, and corporate worship.
Do we evangelize within the four walls? Absolutely! But that is not the primary function of the Hebrews 10:23-25 assembling. These are seekers in an entirely different context.
So. What is a seeker church? I don’t know. I can’t find a Biblical precedent for the definition and ministry format I’ve observed, which has been make a program, throw a rock concert, call it a day. If and when anyone does somehow stumble through the doors and make a genuine conversion, toss them to other new converts and make them responsible for each other.
Jesus surly knew something the formulator of the seeker church model didn’t. Jesus didn’t say “I’m here – spread the word and I’ll wait for the lost to come looking – seeking – for me. Instead He said “I have come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
I’m stuck trying to understand how you can “seek first the Kingdom of God…” when you’re struggling to see God in the personal kingdom you’re busy building.
It’s time to return to the Book and the Author of the Book. Jesus didn’t tell us to build it and wait for men who are disinclined to seek after God to come looking for Him, Jesus said Go! Listen, Church – WE are the seekers. WE have the answer. The “Seeker Church” is a lie!