What is a 'seeker-friendly church'? Are churches supposed to be seeker-friendly?
The example of Jesus clearly shows we are to be friendly toward "seekers," usually defined as unbelievers who visit our local church. However, what does it mean to be a seeker-friendly church? Should churches be seeker-friendly?
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Since the 1970s, many fast-growing churches have emphasized creating a church environment that appeals to the unchurched. Some of these aspects are simply related to music styles or casual clothing. However, some changes can actually go too far away from the distinctives of the church.
For example, in their efforts to not offend new people, some churches have removed crosses from steeples or sanctuaries. Others have removed communion from Sunday services, instead celebrating it at another time when only members would generally participate. Still other churches have shifted toward an emphasis on videos, music, drama, or other arts that incorporate elements of secular programming for the purpose of evangelism.
Though perhaps well intended, some of these changes may actually displease God in the attempt to please people. The church is a gathering of God's people to worship the Lord, learn His truth, and grow in maturity among one another (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Further, the emphasis on appealing to the unchurched can turn the church's focus toward a consumer mentality. If the goal is providing something to make the "consumer" a happy customer, then the church changes from its important role as God's pillar of truth (1 Timothy 3:15) to another business based on human principles.
Of course, the same methods that are often used to attract seekers to a church are then what become common to keep them there. Another unfortunate side effect of focusing on the felt needs of the unchurched is an attractional model of ministry that tells people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear.
Again, every church should seek to be known for its love for God, one another, and its community. However, the church itself exists to glorify God. Its goal is to build believers to maturity in order to impact a lost world. When its goals are changed to build church services primarily to appeal to the unchurched, the temptation of a consumer mentality can compromise the church's mission to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) based on God's Word that shows love for God and others as He intends (Matthew 22:37-40).
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