Arminian Today

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Things About Seeker Churches

I drive a truck for a living so I spend hours on the road and so I listen to podcasts to pass the time.  Most of the time I listen to sound doctrinal preaching.  However, for the fun of it, I will often download sermons from churches I either know I won’t agree with or sermons from seeker churches just to hear what they are up to.

Over the past year or so I have listened to hundreds of seeker churches.  And I’m not lying when I type hundreds.  From the mega seeker churches to seeker churches in my geographical area, I have listened to hundreds of sermons.  I’m not expert on seeker churches but I have been able to gather my thoughts on them.  So here goes.

Let me begin with the positives.  While my negatives will be longer, I do find a few positives in here.

First, the desire to see sinners saved.  While nearly all seeker churches will never call people “sinners,” the concept is still the same.  They seem to want to see people come to faith in Christ.  Again, I would question whether the people are hearing the law and the gospel to save sinners but they seem to truly want to see people saved.  Now could it be they just want a crowd?  Sure.  I don’t know their hearts.  Only God does.  Their words and actions seem to imply they want people saved but it might just be a desire for more people to come to their seeker church.

Second, somewhat preaching of a Christian worldview.  By this I mean the seeker churches at least will point to the Bible as our foundation for our worldview.  Take sex for instance.  This is a favorite topic among seeker churches and most will point to a biblical worldview on sex.  I appreciate that.  As a sinner myself, I need to hear what the Bible teaches about topic X.  Without the Bible, I am prone to follow my flesh and that always leads to sin.

Third, the desire to be real.  While this can be overdone in my estimation by seeker churches, most want people to know that they are just like you and I.  These are not “holy” men and women but regular sinners who are in the fight for faith in their own lives.  I appreciate that.  While I’ll have a little to say that is critical about this below, for the most part I acknowledge that all of us are sinners (Romans 3:23) and we all need Jesus and His grace.  No one is perfect.  None.

Fourth, in many cases I appreciate the desire to look like the community around them including interracial churches.  God loves all people (John 3:16) and He sent His Son for all.  Doesn’t matter the color of the person’s skin.  Churches often are all white or all black or all brown or all yellow.  While this is not necessarily sinful, it can be.  I know of some churches that don’t want anyone but their “kind” with them.  How sinful.  The kingdom of God is made up of sinners who have been saved by Christ Jesus and this includes all races of people (Galatians 3:26-29; Revelation 1:5-6).  Racism has no place in the kingdom. Seeker churches often seek to tear down the walls of racial divisions.  I truly appreciate that.

Lastly, the love for children.  Seeker churches seem to do a good job of building ministries focused on families and especially young children.  I get it.  Their target groups are mainly 20-30 year olds who have families.  I’m out of that range now and my children are getting older but when I was in my 30’s, I remember thinking long and hard about churches that would help me pour into my children.  Now I truly believe my job as a parent is to teach and raise my children in the fear of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4 and notice the emphasis on “fathers”).  Seeker churches seem to know this and seek to build ministries designed to attract young families to their churches.  It can be overdone here too but traditional churches can learn the value of trying to pour into the whole family.

The Critical Items

Now let’s turn to the critical items.  There are many.

First, let’s talk about the preaching.  I would rather label them “talks” after “Ted Talks” more than preaching.  The preaching of seeker churches is just bad.  All of them seem to want to be stand up comedians more than theologians and shepherds.  The stories are usually focused on the speaker and all about them.  The text of Scripture is never exegeted.  I have listened to hundreds of sermons (yes hundreds) from seeker churches and not one has ever been expository nor has one ever dealt with their text in a contextual way.  Not one.  In fact, nearly every talk is topical and if they are teaching through a book, the chapter from the Bible is either never read nor is it dealt with.  Doctrine is never preached.  Now the seeker defense will be that A) they are not preaching to Christians but to the seekers.  And B) they have community groups for doctrinal teaching.  I find both answers lacking.  2 Timothy 4:2 says that the duty of elders is to preach the Word.  The words of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians elders (Acts 20:17) are worth reading (Acts 20:28-35).  Seeker leaders seem to avoid doctrine as much as possible as I have yet to hear a sound doctrinal sermon yet.  The talks also seem to me to always be on a beginner level.  I think of Hebrews 5:11-14.  Where is the growth?  Where is the challenging of believers to go deeper in their knowledge of God and His Word (2 Peter 3:16-17)?  Do people walk away from these talks understanding more about God, His Son, His salvation, and His Word?  I think not.

Second, let me say a word of the elders of the church.  The seeker leaders go out of their way to show how human they are.  They want to be “real” to the people and especially to seekers. Yet this has become an annoyance to me.  1 Timothy 3:1-7 is clear about elders in the church.  1 Timothy 3:1-7 is tough and few disciples meet the qualifications there.  I don’t.  But I am not an elder nor do I claim to be.  I am just a truck driver.  That said, leaders in the church should be holy men of God.  Not perfect. Not sinless.  But holy nonetheless.  The ESV uses the words “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2).  1 Timothy 3:7 does mention that the elder must be “well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”  Outsiders are those who are lost, outside of the kingdom.  Even sinners see that these elders are men of God.  These are not men walking around “trying to be a real guy” but these are real Christians who love Jesus and while not perfect, they do desire to please the Lord.  This act of “being a normal guy” has become old fast in the seeker leadership.  And sadly, many of these guys along the way have fallen into sin.  Just google fallen mega pastors and you’ll see the sad reality of that world.  Ironically, in the desire to “just be a normal guy,” these guys become superstars and draw the attention of the devil.

Third, the lack of biblical discernment especially in regard to music.  All of the seeker churches I have listened to try to have a kicking praise and worship band.  Many include the smoke and lights.  These praise bands are typically led by a 20 something who has skinny jeans on and they all wear cool clothes or just wear worn out jeans and a t-shirt.  Now the dress to me is not the issue.  God sees our hearts after all.  That said, the cool praise bands often sing songs that are just poor in their doctrine if they have doctrine at all.   Heck this song would qualify as a praise song today.  The utter lack of doctrine in the seeker churches produces shallow, sappy songs that have little to do with the gospel or the glory of God.  They sound good but that’s it.  I can see why people are drawn to liturgical churches after being immersed in seeker churches.  It is very sad.

Fourth, the lack of law and gospel.  Most seeker churches either are heavy on the law (you need to do these ten things to help your marriage) or nothing at all.  The gospel is always “pray Jesus into your heart” and nothing is typically said of repentance or even using the law to expose our sins (Romans 3:19-20).  God’s law has a purpose (1 Timothy 1:8-11) and yet seeker churches avoid preaching the law to convict sinners or sanctify saints (the third use of the law).  The Bible is balanced between law and gospel.  Yet seeker churches are not balanced at all.  In fact, I chance to say that they wouldn’t even know about law and gospel.  The gospel should be preached at all times.  I would argue every time the church meets because we are prone to wander.  Martin Luther said, “Christians should preach the gospel every day to ourselves because everyday we are prone to forget it.”  Without the hope of the gospel, all these “steps to a better you” are worthless.  Without the hope of the gospel, we fall into despair and back into the flesh.  “Ten steps” talks are not what we need all the time.  We need the gospel consistently (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  Without the gospel, we turn people into moralists which still leads them to hell.

Conclusion

I am no fan of seeker churches.  I get what draws people to them (Isaiah 30:10-11).  I remember the age-old quote, “What you win them with is what you win them to.”  The gospel is not what is drawing these sinners.

My advice would be to flee these churches.  I would much rather attend a Calvinistic church that preaches the Word of God than any seeker church.  The pragmatism is simply too much for this old boy.  I desperately need the gospel.  I am lost without Christ.  He is my only hope.  He alone is my righteousness before a holy God (Philippians 3:9).  I am undone without the grace of the Lord Jesus for this sinner.  I need to hear more of Him less of me.  I need to hear the gospel over and over and over again.  My flesh hates the things of God but I must hear the gospel to remind my flesh to die (Romans 6:11-14).  Further, I need the gospel because I am a sinner who needs God’s grace (1 Timothy 1:15).

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/21/2017 at 12:37 PM

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