Yesterday was a great day for conversation. I had lots of them, on a whole host of biblical and theological subjects. One of the discussions I had was regarding the "seeker-sensitive" church (do people really still use that term?). During the conversation I was asked if I thought the movement was sinful.
Those types of questions are difficult, because they paint the entire world with only one of two brushes (black or white). The real answer is that there are (A) good seeker-sensitive churches, (B) pathetic seeker-sensitive churches and (C) sinful seeker-sensitive churches.
A good seeker-sensitive church will have the following characteristics: (1) a heart for the lost, (2) a contemporary 'style', (3) meets people where their at by dealing with felt-needs, and (4) purposefully and effectively guides people towards God-centeredness.
A pathetic seeker-sensitive church does the first three well, but completely blows the last one. They do try, just not very hard and not very effectively.
A sinful seeker-sensitive church acts as if #3 is the ultimate and final goal in life.
Group A should be the model for all churches, at least in some format. For some churches the entire Sunday morning approach will be "seeker-sensitive" (always with goal #4 being kept in focus). For others, Sunday morning is more "meat" but they engage non-believers through various outreaches. Both approaches are fine, and I suppose it is just a matter of preference.
The second group are still our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are not being sinful (at least on this issue), but they are horribly ineffective. Their goals are good (e.g. "Live the purpose-driven life"), and even some of their material is helpful, but in actuality they just don't seem to end up getting to the God-centered place they claim to be taking us. They may be pointed at goal #4, but they seem to stalled at goal #3. Spiritually, its like eating at McDonald's. The food may keep you alive but it's hardly healthy.
The third group seems to have departed the Gospel altogether. They speak as if God meeting all of my wants and desires is the ultimate goal of the Gospel. Somehow in their logic God gets glory only when we all get a nice raise at work.
So, is the seeker-sensitive church sinful? It can be, even heretically so. And, if truth be told, it can also be wonderfully biblical--or sometimes just plain foolish.