Bill Hybels and his Willowcreek “organization” have recently made quite a confession. It started when they did a survey of the members of their congregation. The survey was an attempt to evaluate how effective their ministries were. From the beginning they have always used numbers to determine how effective they were. After all, that is how marketing is done. Right?
What have those of us outside of the seeker sensitive paradigm been saying from the beginning about what is wrong with it? Isn’t it that their Soteriology is flawed? They have a man-focused concept of how people are saved. They assume that salvation is simply a decision and, therefore, they try to be as friendly with the world as possible so they can ease huge numbers of people into their church.
What did the Willowcreek surveys show? They showed that the “seekers” that attended their church loved it. They were very happy there and liked the way they did church. However, the believers there, were not happy. They were hungry. They wanted to be fed the truth from God’s Word. They wanted to be discipled. In a way that should encourage us some because that means there are genuine believers there. Only genuine believers want to be fed from God’s Word. Bill Hybels admitted that their methods were a mistake. They were going to have to make adjustments or changes in how they did things so that they could begin to “feed their sheep.”
What are we as the church here for? Is it not to preach the offense of the cross to a world that needs to be offended with how sinful it is? I remember back to my own testimony. I was raised attending a church. I was raised believing that I was a Christian based on things that I had been doing. Then I read a gospel tract which depicted a church going man as winding up in hell after he died. I began questioning in my mind whether or not I would wind up in hell. I turned to the Bible for answers only to find myself a sinner in need of God’s salvation. This was at the age of 15. Even after coming under conviction from the Holy Spirit I still resisted putting my complete trust in God, yet I was plagued at night with strange dreams. Gone was the hope of being a pretty good person in God’s eyes because I had read about half of the Bible, attended church, or even that I generally believed Christ died on the cross. My only hope was to call on the name of God to save me in my completely sinful state because Christ had died on the cross.
Now imagine if I had started attending a seeker sensitive church about that time. What would my testimony consist of if a church I was attending was making every effort for me to not be offended by anything in the service? Are churches who want to reach out to the community by changing the style of their service doing a disservice to those very people that they want to reach? Is the goal to try to get people to attend, or is it to make disciples of all people? Our goals concerning our church will be revealed when we make decisions as to how our services are structured. If our goals are to bring our numbers up, get younger families to attend, and increase the weekly offering, we will make decisions regarding our ministries that will try to achieve those goals. If our goals are to preach the true gospel, see people saved by the power of the cross, and help disciples to grow spiritually, then we will adjust our ministries to achieve those goals.
Mike closes his post with a testimony from Martin Luther on trying to please God while still a monk. Those who read the entire post will enjoy it.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman