There is a growing prevalence of churches that want to draw people in to present the gospel. These churches, commonly referred to as “seeker friendly” churches have been one of the biggest trends in Christianity in the postmodern world. A comparison would be the analytics of Major League Baseball. Some people champion it; others loath it. For these seeker friendly churches are engaged in the advance usage of analytics and marketing. In the effort of not being dismissive in a traditionalist “get off my lawn” way, I want to examine, giving a fair shake, this prevalent trend in Christianity.
In the early church, it was inconceivable that churches would attract large audiences to present the gospel. During the time of persecution, Christians building coliseums for worship would have been lit as candles to light those coliseums while lions were fed to their brethren in an evening pagan spectacle. During the reign of the Papacy, this second phase of Christian history built cathedrals, however these architectural feats were never intended to be mission fields, rather home bases. The post-reformation segment of Christendom saw large gatherings and generational revivals but a large church does not equal a “seeker friendly” church. In American history, we have seen some readily obvious cycles of rebellion and repentance with the Great Awakenings. We aren’t in one of those periods of repentance as a society; we need to be, but I digress. If you build it and they will come is an entirely new phenomenon for physical churches.
I am unsure whether this phenomenon of seeker friendly is the result of the rebellion in our societies or a response to. However, many prominent proponents of seeker friendly churches have questionable theology such as Andy Stanley. Andy Stanley’s Deep and Wide is the bible for seeker friendly churches. There’s obvious problems with the seeker friendly church model that stem from belief systems that counter scripture, the Popularity Gospel as I have coined it.
But the original question was not contemplating the theological legitimacy of seeker friendly churches. Rather we are examining the use of church as the mission field which these famous megachurches’ methods have permeated into many bible believing churches. The origin comes from theologically void sources, however legitimate churches use much of these methods to increase the audience of the church, but I am wondering how these methods can increase the size of the church.
1Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NASB
So if the church is to be the mission field why then is the church not interested in preaching the gospel every Sunday? Sermons on money don’t save. Sermons on not being “judgmental” don’t save. Not even sermons on loving your neighbor save. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 concisely articulates a saving message that Paul seems to have preached regularly during his time in Corinth.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is a call to a painful death to self, daily. No work-around backdoor preaching in a way non-believers can agree with is a sufficient substitute. Using the physical building and programs as a mission field is an unprecedented means modern Christianity finds itself in. By no means, should we turn down innovative ways to baptize believers and make disciples. However, these means must do exactly that. If the church is to draw non-Christians, specifically church adverse people, in with music, atmosphere, and accommodations then the duty of the Church to Christ is to present the gospel daily.
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