I've been thinking about church growth methods in recent days. Here are some provisional thoughts about the seeker-sensitive approach:
What I appreciate about the seeker-sensitive model:
(1) It reflects a sincere and earnest desire to see lost people converted, and a willingness to work hard to see conversions happen.
(2) It reflects a willingness to try new things instead of clinging to "the way we've always done it."
Some questions about the seeker-sensitive model:
(1) The Bible seems to teach that the weekly gathering is mainly a time for believers to worship God and build up one another, and not mainly a time for evangelism. Unbelievers can't worship God, can they? If the worship gathering is meant for believers, should we gear it to appeal to unbelievers?
(2) This model seems to assume that there are many sincere "seekers" out there. I'm not so sure. The Bible teaches that "no one seeks for God" (Rom 3:11) and that unbelievers are "enemies" of God (Rom 5:10) who are "hostile in mind" (Col 1:21); no one comes to Christ "unless the Father who sent [Christ] draws him" (John 6:44). On the other hand, we must admit and rejoice that there are people with whom the Spirit is dealing, who are in the process of coming to faith. But which category do most people fall into? I think most fall into the first grouping--most people are non-seekers.
(3) This model seems to equate success with growth in numbers, and to assume that if numbers are not increasing we must be doing something wrong. But this doesn't seem to agree with the Apostle Paul's thinking. Consider his comments in 2 Tim 1:11-12: "And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am." People reacted negatively when Paul preached the gospel. In fact, they threw him in prison. Did this cause Paul to waver, or to think he was doing something wrong? Not at all, for he goes on to say, "But I am not ashamed," (v12)--meaning he was confident before God that he had done nothing wrong--and to exhort Timothy to hold fast to the pattern of sound teaching he had received from him (v13)--the same teaching that got Paul thrown in prison.