I read about 'seeker-sensitive' churches and about 'doing church in a whole new way' and churches where 'the unchurched feel comfortable'. Here are some of my favorite quotes and articles on that subject:
"It is a myth that man in his natural state is genuinely seeking God. Men do seek God. But they do not seek him for who he is. They seek him in a pinch as one who might preserve them from death or enhance their worldly enjoyments. Apart from conversion, no one comes to the light of God." ~John Piper
"In the Garden of Eden, when sin came into the world, who hid? Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost. Jesus wasn’t the one who was hiding. God is not a fugitive. We are the ones on the run. Scripture declares that the wicked flee when no man pursues. As Martin Luther remarked: “The pagan trembles at the rustling of a leaf. The uniform teaching of Scripture is that fallen men are fleeing from God.”
People do not seek God. They seek after the benefits that only God can give them. The sin of fallen man is this: Man seeks the benefits of God while fleeing from God Himself. We are, by nature, fugitives." ~RC Sproul
""the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14 ESV) Deal with it. Like Paul said above, it’s all foolishness until the Spirit opens their eyes. All too often, your church feels more like a middle school cafeteria than a church storming the gates of hell. It’s as if the message is “Won’t you please like us, pretty please! Let’s connect on Facebook – BFF LOL!” We should expect the gospel light to be offensive to those in darkness. Jesus warned us that would be the case. So why are we so focused on creating an environment that makes those who are perishing feel comfortable?
It’s about where you put your focus. What’s the point of designing your church to seem attractive to those to whom the gospel is unattractive? Is it just to get them in the door? I’ve got to tell you, at times your church more resembled a network marketing meeting than a church service. Been there done that. Just get people to the weekly meeting and let the flashy band, superstar speaker, and stellar child care do the rest. Don’t forget to take a sample and sign up on your way out – oh, and tell your friends about us!
At some point later, I guess, we’ll talk about all that tougher stuff about dying to self, forsaking all to follow Christ, and – gasp — hell and sin. But for now, just push that Easy Button. Settle back into your stadium seating and enjoy this riveting drama and dance routine we’ve cooked up for you while we smile incessantly.
Sounds like the classic bait-n-switch to me. I don’t recall Jesus charging his disciples to “lure potential recruits in with flashy programs, comfy chairs, and a free foot massage. Then, when the mood is right, guys, drop the whole repent thing on ‘em – but subtle, boys, subtle with a capital S and that rhymes with – well, you know – that word we do not speak of. (Wink!)”
Quite the opposite, I recall him telling us to go out into the world, not bring the world into the church. He has called us to be ambassadors who go out, not sales reps who stay in, lurking at the hotel to sign up prospects lured in by the promise of sweet treats and easy riches. He told us to make disciples, not water down the gospel power to make it more seeker-friendly." ~Bill Blankshaen (in "Why I left your seeker-friendly church")
"Seeker-sensitive services originally promised to woo post-moderns back into the fold. Out the stained glass window went the somewhat formal 45-minute exegetical sermon, replaced by a shorter, story-based talk to address the "felt needs" of the congregants while reinforcing the premise that following Jesus would dramatically improve their quality of life.
Contemporary worship had already found its way into the mainstream, but their new model nudged the church further toward a rock-concert feel. Finally, programs proliferated, with programs for nearly every demographic, from Mothers of Preschoolers to Red Glove Motorcycle Riders.
None of these changes were pernicious or even poorly intentioned. In the case of my previous church, choosing the seeker model began innocently. The staff endeavored to create a wide on-ramp for folks who might ordinarily bypass the sanctuary in favor of Starbucks. (As an incentive, we provided fair-trade coffee and bagels each week.) Trained not to assume that everyone was on the same page politically or spiritually, we sought to have friendly, nuanced conversations with visitors.
Being aware of those who come through the doors of any organization is a good thing. I have walked out of many services without a single person engaging with me. However, many churches gradually, and perhaps unwittingly, transitioned from being appropriately sensitive to the needs of their congregants to becoming–if you'll permit some pop-psychologizing–co-dependent with them.
What does co-dependence look like within a church? Avoiding sections of Scripture out of fear that certain power pockets will be offended. Believing that repeat attendance depends primarily upon the staff's seamless execution of Sunday morning–rather than the manifest presence of God. Eliminating doleful songs from the worship repertoire because they might contradict the through line that "following Jesus is all gain." ~Dorothy Greco