How Dan Southerland’s seeker-strategy shapeshifted the Church

The following is taken from  and page references are given where appropriate. This is what they’re pushing:

Southerland’s Overall Steps to “Transition” your church:

Change your Approach – from “Program Driven” (read: traditional), to “Purpose Driven”.

Change your Target – from reaching saved fellow Christians to reaching the “un-churched”. (this is an oxymoron, since church is by definition for the saved. Is “jail” for the “un-jailed”?)

Change your Leadership – Move away from an Elder/Deacon/Board leadership (read: Biblical) model, and have the staff make all the decisions. (IOW, let the people whose paychecks depend on the choices made decide everything. No matter that this may open them up to spiritual attack and make them vulnerable to unethical, even un-Biblical decisions!)

Change your Pastors – From a senior pastor model to multiple pastors. (not wrong in and of itself, but they’re using this to make up a new “board” of directors)

Change your Ministry – From staff doing all the ministry to lay ministers doing the ministry. (again, it’s not bad in and of itself to use lay-pastors, but they use it to increase indoctrination and “group-think”)

Change your Strategy – From no plan to a “Life-cycle process” that is “driven by small groups” (see more on this below)

Change your Schedule – Have your services targeted to the “un-churched”, and if you must reach the already saved, do it in a separate service. (Why confuse those poor pagans with true gospel and Biblical teaching?)

Change your Small Groups – from traditional educational groups to “relational” small groups. (This is also used to increase peer pressure to accept wrong teaching, and as a format to “seed” in strategically placed proponents to apply pressure to members to conform.)

“It concerns how we should relate to the world around us; how we make the gospel culturally relevant…” (pg 15)

Direct Steps for Changing Your Church

Put together a “Vision Team”: A “small handful of leaders”. Choose mature believers, Dreamers rather than detail people, who are “trustworthy to keep their mouths shut” about your plans until “the time is right for it to be shared”. (pg 77) Work quietly and secretly behind the scenes. (this to me screams that they know people won’t want the changes, but they don’t care – they’re deluded into thinking they know best) It’s preferred that members of the Vision Team are staff, but others can be used if they fit the profile.

Prepare for Vision: 1) Collect information. Do surveys of your membership, your neighborhood “un-churched”, and your community. (My church did the REVEAL Survey bought from Willow Creek) 2) Have a “holy discontent” with the status quo 3) Fast 4) Pray 5) Wait

Defining the Vision: 1) Discover your purpose and develop a “Purpose / Mission Statement”, (Gee, I thought our purpose was already defined by God’s word? In my church, a “mission statement” appeared on the front of our Sunday bulletins) 2) Define your Target – ask “who is your primary customer?” “Don’t ask who do we want to reach – this is too elitist” (pg. 51) (Supposedly, the “purpose” is given as a “vision from God”. This is why they cling to it so ferociously. They also teach that God has a “different vision” for every church, yet they use cookie-cutter methods that supposedly fit Christians, Jews, Muslims, corporations, etc., and proudly promote this)

Planting the Vision: 1) Secure the approval of the “Power Brokers”. The opinion makers, either with formal roles in the church, or members. 2) Secure the approval of members who hold the resources you’ll need to make the changes – money and talent. (In other words, the church will be run by the staff, the wealthy and the powerful – wow, this is just sounding a lot like our government, no?)

Sharing the Vision: (Now they finally come out of the closet and share aspects of the plan with others outside the inner circle!) 1) Share with church leaders left out previously 2) Let the “rank and file” know (I find this term insulting), 3) Take your leadership away on a “Vision Retreat” 4) Use the “Power of the Pulpit” to promote your vision & changes 5) Have all your Small Groups go through a “Vision Study” (remember what I told you above? This is indoctrination) 6) Repeat your Purpose Statement regularly 7) Require your leadership to read “The Purpose-Driven Church” by Rick Warren (this book twists scripture like you wouldn’t believe, and often uses Bible versions like the Message so they can say it supports their teaching. But hey, why would pastors bother to be Berean when the marketing for this drivel is so slick? )

Implement Your Changes: 1) Plan to do it slowly – over a few years 2) Be strategic, with the least objectionable changes done first 3) Take your “Key Leaders” as discussed above and put them in very visible places to help convince others. Have them show their approval so others will want to imitate it. (More indoctrination and group-think methods. These people are “seeded” into strategic locations.)

Dealing With Opposition: 1) There will be opposition from those whom the enemy controls: (pg. 112) (Do you see the set-up here? If you don’t approve of their methods, they’re taught to see you as demonic. Just black and white. This is how cults set up their structure – “if you’re not with me you’re against me”.) 2) Expect anger and a fight 3) Get members to pray for your church (In my church, we were thrilled to finally, after 20+ years, get a church-sanctioned prayer group started. Now I know it was just one of the “steps” )

Pastors are taught that objectors are “Sanballats” whom Southerland calls “leaders from hell”. He goes on to write “You cannot call this guy a leader from hell to his face, but you can call him a Sanballat”. (pg. 115) (What a great, spirit-filled example to teach – call Bible-believing Christians who object to your man-made and unBiblical methods “leaders from hell”! Basically, they teach that you either Convince people the new way is right, you Fight them, or you Chase them off!)

Be Willing To Let People Leave the Church: Southerland teaches that the traditional members who are pillars of the church can just hold you back from the changes, and fight your methods. He and Warren are proud of the numbers they’ve chased off. “When you set the vision and stay the course, you determine who leaves” (pg 127) (They don’t care that their new “church” is a mile wide and an inch deep. It’s only the numbers and the money that count in the long run, no matter how much they try to trumpet their desire to “reach the un-churched”.)

(I just found out that my pastor grand-standed in a Trustees meeting, when the Trustees didn’t think a huge building project was needed or affordable. The pastor just told them that they either voted with him, or they were welcome to leave. I’m still in shock!)

Other Changes to Make:

Drop titles like “Pastor” or “Doctor”, since they’re too formal and intimidate the un-churched

Dress Casually – no more ties, slacks dress shirts or coats. You can’t appear “elitist”.

Use common speech, and drop “religious” words like “sin”, “salvation”, “judgment”, “hell”, etc. (No need to frighten those poor Seekers or have them feel any conviction in their hearts.)

Below are other things Rick Warren teaches. These are taken from his website www.pastors.com where you can access handouts from his pastoral training seminars, and some are also excerpted from his book “The Purpose Driven Church.”

Teaching and Tactics

Enlist Support from the “Legitimizers” in your church. (read: have them help you indoctrinate the “rank and file”.)

Get the people on board who are the easiest to convince – those younger than the pastor, and those who have started attending after the pastor took over. (read: lets go after those impressionable un-churched or those new Christians who as yet have little to no discernment)

Call everything, every change, “an experiment”. (read: fool people into thinking the changes are just temporary)

Require all members to sign 4 “Covenants” The Membership Covenant, the Ministry Covenant, The Maturity Covenant and the Missions Covenant

(I have a HUGE problem with this, as it is totally un-Biblical! We’re told in many places in scripture that we’re not to do this. One is James 5:12 “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; so that you may not fall under judgement.” Warren et al want people to swear loyalty to the pastor, the specific church, to tithe 10%, and to support the leadership no matter what so as not to cause “division”. Again – this is like a cult! I’ve discovered some of these churches actually have credit card kiosks in their foyers, so even if people dont’ have the cash, they can charge the required tithe. Can you believe that?? Warren brags that people have sold cars and houses so they could be sure to make their tithes to his church)

Use Christian Education to focus on your Purpose These are called “The Core” by Warren. Build your CE ministry around his Purposes.
Class 101 – Intro. to our church family. Membership Oath required.
Class 201 – Into. to Spiritual Maturity. Ministry Oath required
Class 301 – Discovering my Shape (?) for Ministry – Ministry oath required. Personality/Aptitude tests given.
Class 401 – Discovering my Life Mission – Mission oath required. Everyone is either to find a volunteer job at the church, or is seen as selfish.

Make your Purpose Statement in terms of results. Make it “Measurable”, make it “Encourage Participation”, and make the results a “Sequential Process”. Warren gives the example of “Bring them in…Build them Up…Train them for…Send them Out!” (I was shocked to see my church’s new purpose statement is almost an exact copy of this – “Win, Train, Send”. We count every attendee at every service, every CE class, every social function, etc.)

Come up with a symbol (read “logo”) that everyone can identify with, and that will create an emotional reaction, as when people see an American flag. (This is all about marketing and emotional manipulation, and sadly, my church just came up with one. )

When you’re preaching, tell stories. Give them a vision so they can see themselves and identify with you.

Change your Worship Music – use very contemporary music, and make it LOUD. If an unchurched person comes in and everyone is talking quietly, they’ll feel “uncomfortable”, but if everyone is shouting over the music, they’ll feel more anonymous. Also, since Warren is going after the young adults, he says that they like to “feel” the music physically. (You know – the throbbing ears, the pounding heart, the floor vibrating – all those things that glorify God All sadly done in my church over the past year.)

Change your Worship to less singing by the congregation, and more performances they can just sit back and watch. Things like musical performers, dancers, skits, etc. Seekers are uncomfortable with songs they don’t know, and prefer to be passive watchers.

Do a Building Project – Build it and they will come. Warren practically guarantees that if you follow his slick marketing program, your attendance will increase by at least 20%. (This too has happened in my church, and many members left or were chased off because of it.)

Drop the term”Sanctuary“, and call it a “Worship Center” instead. Use moveable chairs instead of pews, so it can become a multi-purpose room. (Sadly, a done deal in my church. We also built a coffee shop )

If you see even just a few of these in your church, I strongly urge you to do more research! As I discovered, what you initially see is probably just the tip of the iceberg! They’re taught to do this in secret, to stand for no civil, Christian debate, to vilify anyone with opposing views, and to see their own motives as pure and Biblical. The lack of discernment in these leaders is truly frightening! I’ll bet they put more research into buying a used car than they do into buying a program that will turn their churches on their ears and invite satan in for a seat.

I absolutely believe this is of the devil, and is another of his ways to persecute real, Bible-believing Christians. The evidence against it is just too clear and abundant, and is too easily accessed. Any pastor that wants to check it out could do so very simply. The scales on their eyes are just too thick.

As I researched this, almost every discernment ministry recommended the book “Redefining Christianity” by Pastor Bob Dewaay. I bought it, and found it to be a wonderful, scripture-filled refutation of this drivel. You can order it from his website at www.cicministry.org, and bulk discounts are available. I bought several to start giving away to people who I think are open to the truth.

(Book review and commentary is from a discussion at Rapture Ready.com)

 

 

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44 Responses to How Dan Southerland’s seeker-strategy shapeshifted the Church

  1. Stacy M. Sachs March 17, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Why do we have to change the "method" on sharing the gospel ??? If we study how Jesus and HIs disciples, and the Apostle Paul did it, we should be doing likewise…right?? Sinning against a Holy God is no different now then it was back then, and people need to know how seperated they are from Him because of their sin.

  2. Ben Miller March 17, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    One of the themes of your show today is "The methods might change, but the message should never change." I agree, but the above article does nothing but criticize the methods. Changing your marketing, having a casual service with contemporary music, targeting a specific demographic: none of these things are against the Gospel, and if the Gospel is preached at a church, then it doesn't matter what kind of chairs they use. (There are some people that did not grow up in church and are turned off when they see pews. It is not wrong to change your decor to avoid repulsing people.)Not every church should be the same. People are different and have different preferences. There are some old churches with very traditional churches that have lost the gospel long ago. There are some churches with contemporary services that present the uncompromising gospel every week.

  3. Ben Miller March 17, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    A comment about mission statements: The article criticizes a mission statement like "Win, Train, Send." To me, this mission statement sounds just like the Great Commission. Isn't that a good thing, to have the church focused on the Great Commission?Matthew 28:19-20: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

  4. Michael March 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Here's a few more:1. Get rid of the King James Bible2. The 'Pastor" must dress like an adolescent.3. Have multiple Sunday morning services so that the "unchurched" can have options.4. The "Pastor" must constantly remind the congregation that he is their spiritual authority. 5. The "Pastor" must convince the congregation that they cannot hear God for themselves and thus become more dependent upon him. Once this happens they almost will never leave no matter how bad or perverted things get. Since they don't believe they can hear God they will reason Him away when He beckons them to leave. They can't escape the controlling testicles of their seeker friendly pastor.I was in a strong Bible centered church in Ohio for about 15 years before leaving. Like others there we sacrificed our time labor and finances to support this great ministry. I began to noticed some of the seeker friendly model's formats begin to be implemented at this church. I knew exactly what was going on from my previous independent research on the topic. Everything began to change. Worship, the pastor's attire, a coffee shop opened and irreverent contemporary music was piped into the Sanctuary before each service. Oh by the way, it's not called the Sanctuary anymore, they changed that too. They dropped the choir and went to the praise band format. This is but a few of the changes that took place in that church but was more than I needed to know what was happening. I left that church and basically drug my wife kicking and screaming and I do not apologize for it! The thing that is most shocking to me is how people I considered to be so strong spiritually just sit there and are still there. They are drinking Kool-Aid and don't even know it. The seeker friendly movement is APOSTATE and demonic to the core. These pastors are deceived! I will never step foot in a seeker friendly church, support one or even consider one as preaching the true gospel. It is a false gospel pushed by false teachers. If a Christian is in such a place I would urge them to seek God for direction because He is going to call you out to somewhere else. ow do I know that? Romans 16:17-19, I Timothy 4:1 and II Timothy 3:1-17. They seeker friendly pastors believe that they have heard from God and will continue down their destructive course. Sadly many will follow them (II Peter 2:2) just as those who followed Jim Jones all they way to the cups filled with cyanide. I too reasoned and struggled over leaving my church as they started making these drastic changes that conflicted with scripture. Maybe they'll change and go back to the way they used to be Scriptural). Well for that to happen they would have to humble themselves and admit that they missed it. That;s not going to happen. Their will and core beliefs must be dealt with by the Holy Spirit. That's their only hope of returning to the truth. While remaining there it hope of a return to the truth, the pressure continues to mount to get everyone (INCLUDING YOU) on board with the changes. If you decide to go in and talk to your leadership about being uncomfortable with the changes you should know first that they are expecting you and are prepared for you. They have already be "trained" in how to deal with you. Bottom line? You will get on board or you will be pushed out. So it seems that either way you will be leaving, so why not just begin to seek God now for direction and let Him lead you out to safety. When He takes you by the hand and leads you out you cannot save everyone else who remains behind. You can only pray that God will open their hearts and eyes to His truth and they embrace it. There are still Bible believing churches in America who have not bowed to this modern day Baal called the seeker friendly church model. Are you willing to relocate? are you willing to move your family to a different city? Are you willing to drive an hour each way to church? Then seek God and ask Him to take you from where you are to the place He has for you and your family.

    • marilyn November 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      I agreed this is crazy pray for our children will not go or be trick by the devil and end up in one of theses churches.

  5. Michael March 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Here's a few more:1. Get rid of the King James Bible2. The 'Pastor" must dress like an adolescent.3. Have multiple Sunday morning services so that the "unchurched" can have options.4. The "Pastor" must constantly remind the congregation that he is their spiritual authority.5. The "Pastor" must convince the congregation that they cannot hear God for themselves and thus become more dependent upon him. Once this happens they almost will never leave no matter how bad or perverted things get. Since they don't believe they can hear God they will reason Him away when He beckons them to leave. They can't escape the controlling tentacles of their seeker friendly pastor.I was in a strong Bible centered church in Ohio for about 15 years before leaving. Like others there we sacrificed our time labor and finances to support this great ministry. I began to noticed some of the seeker friendly model's formats begin to be implemented at this church. I knew exactly what was going on from my previous independent research on the topic. Everything began to change. Worship, the pastor's attire, a coffee shop opened and irreverent contemporary music was piped into the Sanctuary before each service. Oh by the way, it's not called the Sanctuary anymore, they changed that too. They dropped the choir and went to the praise band format. This is but a few of the changes that took place in that church but was more than I needed to know what was happening. I left that church and basically drug my wife kicking and screaming and I do not apologize for it! The thing that is most shocking to me is how people I considered to be so strong spiritually just sit there and are still there. They are drinking Kool-Aid and don't even know it. The seeker friendly movement is APOSTATE and demonic to the core. These pastors are deceived! I will never step foot in a seeker friendly church, support one or even consider one as preaching the true gospel. It is a false gospel pushed by false teachers. If a Christian is in such a place I would urge them to seek God for direction because He is going to call you out to somewhere else. ow do I know that? Romans 16:17-19, I Timothy 4:1 and II Timothy 3:1-17. They seeker friendly pastors believe that they have heard from God and will continue down their destructive course. Sadly many will follow them (II Peter 2:2) just as those who followed Jim Jones all they way to the cups filled with cyanide. I too reasoned and struggled over leaving my church as they started making these drastic changes that conflicted with scripture. Maybe they'll change and go back to the way they used to be Scriptural). Well for that to happen they would have to humble themselves and admit that they missed it. That;s not going to happen. Their will and core beliefs must be dealt with by the Holy Spirit. That's their only hope of returning to the truth. While remaining there it hope of a return to the truth, the pressure continues to mount to get everyone (INCLUDING YOU) on board with the changes. If you decide to go in and talk to your leadership about being uncomfortable with the changes you should know first that they are expecting you and are prepared for you. They have already be "trained" in how to deal with you. Bottom line? You will get on board or you will be pushed out. So it seems that either way you will be leaving, so why not just begin to seek God now for direction and let Him lead you out to safety. When He takes you by the hand and leads you out you cannot save everyone else who remains behind. You can only pray that God will open their hearts and eyes to His truth and they embrace it. There are still Bible believing churches in America who have not bowed to this modern day Baal called the seeker friendly church model. Are you willing to relocate? are you willing to move your family to a different city? Are you willing to drive an hour each way to church? Then seek God and ask Him to take you from where you are to the place He has for you and your family.

    • Ken August 29, 2011 at 10:04 am #

      How sad. Mark 7 speaks clearly about those that hold to the traditions of men and negate the words of Christ.

      Apostate?! Come now and reason.

      Christ used many methods to communicate to people. To those who seek truth (and there are those) He spoke in parables. There were other times when He came right out and blasted the Pharisees for their adherance to tradition over scripture.

      To say that the seeker-sensitive movement is apostate is a combination of ignorant and arrogant. Paul even mentioned that he gloried that the message of Christ was put forth even though it was sent forth with selfish motives.

      Is the Seeker Sensitive movement apostate or incomplete? I posit that it is slightly incomplete. It potentially creates a shaky foundation for living…have people come to know Christ through this method of "doing church"? Absolutely. Are they loving Christ right now? Many are.

      Apostate…no.

      Hopefully they will come to a greater understanding of the grace of Christ as you have…where love conquers justice and mercy rules the day as the sun rules the darkness. Oh that we will come to an understanding as you have. That we will stand for truth with as much vigor and vehemency so as to cut relationships with those who do not think as we do.

      I have stood alone for truth and if that means I stand alone…then so be it!

      Where there is no grace, there is no salvation. Let the cross deal out justice.

      Train with love (the perfect combo of grace and mercy).

  6. Ben Miller March 27, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    I think we should be extremely careful what we call unbiblical. Where in the Bible is the pastor's dress or the number of services per week spelled out? Where is the KJV named as the one true Bible? Coffee is forbidden in church? I missed that verse, too. Calling the contemporary music played on Q90 every day "irreverent" is a matter of opinion that I certainly do not share. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for making up their own rules and judging others that did not follow them.

  7. Dan Davis August 8, 2011 at 6:06 am #

    I agree with Ben we have to be careful, what is nessesary is not only do we need to take God at his word but we also obey it. I must obey it. We are supposed to suffer for the Good we do, we are not to do evil or what may seem so. We are responsible for our own conduct, our own walk, our own attitudes, our own responce. And most of all we must know we are never right of ourselves only God is.

    James 4:11 Don't speak evil against each other, my dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize each other and condemn each other, then you are criticizing and condemning God's law. But you are not a judge who can decide whether the law is right or wrong. Your job is to obey it.

    12 God alone, who made the law, can rightly judge among us. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to condemn your neighbor?

    I know its frustrating but before you pull your tent pegs you need to ask the leadership what they think of God's word. If they hold that it is inerrant why then are we not doing what it says. If they say we think those parts don't apply to us today then by their own words they put themselves over God. By their own words they admit they are operating under their own authority instead of God's. God commands we seperate ourselves from such as these.

    Look close,
    The problem isn't just in the seeker friendly services but in any that don't hold to the whole counsel of God and practice to do it. In Romans we are to put no stumbling block in front of our brother for why should he perish because of your knowledge. If there be any offence let it be the Gospel of Christ for it truely is offensive to those that are perishing.

    Dan

  8. Sue January 13, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    No one is pressured to give 10%. Wesley also encouraged small group study. We should all make an effort to reach the unchurched. There is nothing unbiblical about this type of worship. If anything it is finally a church where the members have a voice and are not ruled over by dictators like the United Methodist Church. It is also a church where everyone is worthy and worth isn't determined by who can speak in tounges and get slain in the spirit the most times in one service. These services are real, led by the Holy Spirit and scripture based.

  9. Diane May 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    I think the biggest thing is to pray for unbelievers and make sure you are fully equipped in your armour (Eph 6). Prayer moves mountains in the spiritual realm.

  10. NotNewsChannel May 16, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    I miss the old fashioned churches with pews and windows in them. Families used to sit all together, today, the children are chased out of the sanctuary and sent to children's church. A new mega-church near me even has an "Egyptian" themed room for the kids. Complete with Knights Templar crosses painted everywhere. Children are given barcoded bracelets and scanned into the churches computer system.

    Staff now sells coffee in the lobby. I can get a free cup of coffee when I go shopping my local grocery store Publix, however, coffee at a church in 2013 will cost mammon. Pay the harlot and she will serve you up a delicious cup of coffee after sales tax. When I was a kid everything at the church was donation only. We had pot-luck dinners and cookouts.

    The music in the modern churches is not the same either. Loud drumming rock style music in the beginning, then, the music gets very soothing and puts you in the perfect state of mind for hypnosis. I see pastors using hypnosis in church on their congregations. They love to use the "power of suggestion" to get people to do what they want. I'm constantly being told where to stand. "Everybody come up front now" what if I don't want to go up front? I feel uncomfortable standing alone as the only person not going up front as instructed. We are told that we "have to get the gift of tongues"… I feel like I'm going to bootcamp not church.

    The pastor wants us to donate electronically, why? For accounting that's why. We are encouraged to fill out information before donating cash. I've even been told not to just throw money into the offering, but to, fill out the tithing card. I wonder if this is used to get people thinking that the pastor will find out if they are really tithing 10%. I'd feel bad if I only donated a few hundred dollars and the pastor knew I was a highly paid professional. Except I know the truth about the 10% tithe, it, is a scam. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9 KJV) according to my bible, my works will not win me any favor with God. Least any man should boast. I left a church after the pastor started boasting that he donated an amount as high as a house payment. Meanwhile, I'm going through foreclosure and can't make a house payment. Thanks for boasting about your donation sir. I'll try harder to make enough money to please you, or, find another church.

    I really want to find an honest church for my family. Unfortunately, the churches have changed in recent years. I noticed the changes starting right around the time that they stopped using King James Bibles. Remember when we all had the same bible In every church?

    • Jean December 2, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      Amen!

    • King James Only December 2, 2014 at 8:15 am #

      Amen!

    • True w January 24, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

      Amen. Hope you find or have found a true bible believing church. I don't know who you are but I will pray for you. My church is going through something right now. After electing a new Pastor less than a year ago, he is trying to gain full control of everything and is even trying to circumvent the deacons and trustees and come up with a new constitution. He has gained many followers over the months. Hopefully most of the members will be followers of God rather than men (or a man in this case). But, God is still in control whether I end up losing my church to a self centered, controlling preacher, or looking for a new Pastor again.

  11. John August 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    It is unfortunate that I constantly see in the body of Christ people still arguing and fighting and labeling over methods. I may not agree with everyone's methods but the message can't change. That message is that Jesus saves us from our sin and changes our hearts so that we can be a new creation in Him. I've seen lives changed with methods I don't like or agree with. Nevertheless, lives have been changed by God and people are living for Him. I'm not a fan of the "seeker-sensitive" thing, but people's lives have been changed. Sure, there are excesses. There are excesses in EVERY method someone chooses to use because people are involved. I believe in standing up for truth and Jesus clearly stated that if they are not against us they are with us. Mk. 9:40. I fear that we are too quick to label something of satan since this is an extreme label. The only ones Jesus really "nailed" were the "religious" ones who were quick to label things "not of God." That worries me far more than the "seeker-sensitives."

  12. dennis c nisger November 17, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    .The primary purpose of the Church is to provide a place for Christians to fellowship and a place for sinners to fill the void in their sole through salvation. Secondary purpose is to supply the needs of the needy without overlooking the primary reason. So, to go for increased numbers for the sake of increasing revenue to supply the needy does not justify sacrificing the primary purpose

  13. marilyn November 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    All these people are going to hell. The Pastors that follow this are bad Shepard read the book of Ezekiel. Don't do this doctrine of devils. This is the started of the anti-Christ. Pray for yourself and your children that they do not end up in a church like this.

    • Matthew November 25, 2013 at 11:13 am #

      Really? Going to hell? You apparently fail to realize that we are accepted into heaven through faith in Christ alone. Not anything else. Go cry anti-Christ somewhere else. @ John….you are spot on.

      Has anyone thought that some churches that stray from what you may think of as "normal" are not (I hate this word!) "seeker-sensitive" but perhaps just doing church for a younger generation? Our church is small, but also located in China. We have an awesome worship team and play upbeat music. The teaching is Biblically based, but presented in a way that leaves you with something tangible that you can use in everyday life. We do not live in a bubble here, there is real spiritual warfare happening in my city. Our pastors need to equip people for the real world.

      This does not mean watered down, it means it is intentional for where we are in the world and the sins that are prevalent in our geographic area. The Church needs to evolve to stay relevant! Just give a look to the Catholic Church now, they are struggling to get young people involved. This is the future if we do not find ways to get the youth involved and out in the world.

      • lyn November 25, 2013 at 11:31 am #

        The church needs to 'evolve'? So, the Bible is no longer relevant for our 'modern day'? You have an awesome worship team and you play upbeat music, good for you. It sounds like your worship is geared towards pleasing man and fleshly in it's origin. But worship is NOT about you. Is God pleased in your worship? Is He exalted and does He accept your worship? Of course, the first answer given is a hearty 'yes', but examine your hearts more closely.
        Here is an excellent piece of writing on worship from A. W. Pink…

        "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." ~ Hebrews 12:28
        No exhortation in this Epistle is more needed by our perverse generation than this one. How this imperative requirement "with reverence and godly fear" rebukes the cheap, flippant "worship" of the day. O what unholy lightness and ungodly familiarity now marks the religion of Christendom: many address the great Deity as though they were His equals, and conduct themselves with far less decorum than they would show in the presence of an earthly monarch. The omission of bowing the head in silent prayer when we take our place in the congregation, the vulgar glancing around, the unfitting whispering and chattering, the readiness to smile or laugh at any remarks of the preacher's which may sound odd—are all so many instances of this glaring and growing evil. "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints—and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him" (Psalm 89:7 – “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints.” The holiest tremble in the presence of the thrice Holy One; their familiarity is seasoned with the pro-foundest awe. Perfect love casts out the fear which hath torment, and works in lieu thereof that other fear which is akin to joy unutterable. How reverent should our worship be! Where angels veil their faces, men should surely bow in lowliest fashion. Sin is akin to presumptuous boldness, but holiness is sister to holy fear. “And to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.” The nearer they are the more they adore. If mere creatures are struck with awe, the courtiers and favourites of heaven must be yet more reverent in the presence of the Great King. God's children are those who most earnestly pray “hallowed be thy name.” Irreverence is rebellion. Thoughts of the covenant of grace tend to create a deeper awe of God, they draw us closer to him, and the more his glories are seen by us in that nearer access, the more humbly we prostrate ourselves before his Majesty. – C. H. Spurgeon).
        The Greek word for "reverence" in extraordinary instances, is called a "blushing," a "being ashamed," a "confusion of face" (Ezra 9:6; Dan. 9:7); yet, the essence of it, ought always to accompany us in the worship of God.
        "Godly fear" is a holy awe on the soul when engaged in sacred duties, and this from a consideration of the great danger there is of our sinful mistakes in the worship of God, and of His severity against such heinous offenses. God will not be mocked. A serious soul is hereby moved unto watchfulness and diligence not to provoke so great, so holy, so jealous a God—by a neglect of that reverence and godly fear which He requires in His service, and which is due unto Him on account of His glorious perfections. If the seraphim veil their faces before Him (Isaiah 6:2), how much more would we do so!
        "For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). This is the reason given why we must serve God with reverence and fear. The words are taken from Deuteronomy 4:24 where they are used to deter Israel from idolatry, for that is a sin God will not tolerate. The same description of God is here applied by the Apostle unto those lacking grace to worship Him with the humility and awe which He demands. If we are graceless in our persons, and devoid of reverence in our worship—God will deal with us accordingly. As a fire consumes combustible matter cast into it, so God will destroy sinners. The title "our God" denotes a covenant relationship—yet though Christians are firmly assured of their interest in the Everlasting Covenant, God requires them to have holy apprehensions of His majesty and terror; see 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11.
        The twin graces of love and fear—fear and love—should be jointly active in the believer, and it is in preserving a balance between them that his spiritual health largely consists. So it is here. Observe the remarkable conjunction: "our God," in covenant relationship, our Father; and yet "a consuming fire," to be trembled at! The first is to prevent despair from considering God's ineffable purity and inflexible justice; the latter is to check a presumptuous irreverence unto which a one-sided occupation with His grace and love might embolden us.
        Thus, the principal exhortation "let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably" is urged by two widely different motives: because we have "received a kingdom" and because God is "a consuming fire." Carnal reason would ask, If we have received a kingdom which cannot be moved—why should we fear? But if God is such "a consuming fire"—how can we ever expect such a kingdom, since we are but as stubble? But the Spirit-taught have no difficulty in perceiving why the Apostle joined together these two things.
        The Christian's interest in His favor is no warrant for casting off a solemn fear of God. Though He has laid down His enmity against him, He has not cast off His majesty and sovereignty over him. "Even those who stand highest in the love and favor of God, and have the fullest assurance thereof and of their interest in Him as their God, ought, notwithstanding, to fear Him as a sin-avenging God and a consuming fire" (Ezekiel Hopkins, 1680). Though God has taken His redeemed into intimate nearness to Himself—yet He requires that they always retain a due apprehension of the majesty of His Person, the holiness of His nature, the severity of His justice, and the ardent jealousy of His worship. If we truly dread falling under the guilt of this awful sin of irreverence, our minds will be influenced unto godly fear. The grace of fear is in no way inconsistent with, or an impediment to, a spirit of adoption, holy boldness—or godly rejoicing. See Psalm 2:11 – { 'Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.' -“Serve the Lord with fear;” let reverence and humility be mingled with your service. He is a great God, and ye are but puny creatures; bend ye, therefore, in lowly worship, and let a filial fear mingle with all your obedience to the great Father of the Ages. “Rejoice with trembling.” – There must ever be a holy fear mixed with the Christian's joy. This is a sacred compound, yielding a sweet smell, and we muss see to it that we burn no other upon the altar. Fear, without joy, is torment; and joy, without holy fear, would be presumption. Mark the solemn argument for reconciliation and obedience. It is an awful thing to perish in the midst of sin, in the very way of rebellion; and yet how easily could his wrath destroy us suddenly. It needs not that his anger should be heated seven times hotter; let the fuel kindle but a little, and we are consumed. O sinner! Take heed of the terrors of the Lord; for “our God is a consuming fire.” Note the benediction with which the Psalm closes “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in him? Our faith my be slender as a spider's thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles: – “Lord, increase our faith.” – C. H. Spurgeon}, Matthew 28:8, Philippians 2:12.
        "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably," (Hebrews 12:28), for without it there will be neither "reverence" nor "godly fear." Without Divine aid and unction—we cannot serve God at all, for He accounts not that worship—which is offered by graceless people. Without grace in actual operation, we cannot serve God acceptably, for it is in the exercise of faith and fear, love and awe, that the very life and soul of spiritual worship consists. O how earnestly de we need to seek an increase of Divine "grace" (2 Corinthians 9:8; 12:9), and keep it operative in all duties of the worship of God: that in view of His fearsome wrath—we may have a dread of displeasing Him; in view of His majesty—our hearts may be humbled; and in view of His love—we may seek to honor, please and adore Him. "The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, He is the one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread" (Isaiah 8:13 and cf. Matthew 10:28)

        • John November 25, 2013 at 11:52 am #

          The problem I see with much of the vitriol toward the "modern" church is that it usually comes down to styles and preferences. Certain styles of music and preferences in prayer, worship etc. are demonized by those who really prefer a different way of doing things. The real question, is… "Are lives being changed and are they living surrendered, holy lives to the Lord?" I've seen my share of hypocrites in both ultra-conservative and liberal church circles. No one has a "corner" on hypocrisy. In fact if someone want to see the epitome of the results of Christian intolerance, it comes from non other than John Calvin who basically, single-handedly murdered Michael Servetus. Servetus' crime? He had an unorthodox view of the godhead which basically came from the Jewish theology of the "converted" Spanish Jews. He was burned at the stake in Geneva, when at the MOST, according to Geneva law, he should have been banished. But John Calvin would have none of it. Calvin wasn't satisfied until the death sentence was pronounced and Calvin, himself called for the death penalty. To be sure, both men had big egos and should have behaved more like Christ. But Calvin didn't have to have the man murdered! One of Calvin's former roommates, Sebastian Castellio, who wrote against Calvin after Calvin defended his reprehensible behavior said this, “To burn a man is not to defend a doctrine, it is to burn a man!”

          Sadly, I see this same behavior today in Christian circles. God's people, who should know better, are quick to vilify a brother due to differences-quick to label differences "satanic" and reasons to have one's salvation revoked! We're not talking about people who justify immorality or drunkenness etc. We are talking about people who love God, preach Jesus, preach a changed life etc. If God's people were as devoted to reaching the lost as they are to "burning their brother at the stake," how many more would be set free from sin and find justification in Christ alone!

          To "burn a man" is not to defend a doctrine…it is to burn a man!

        • Matthew November 25, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

          You take the high road like most an simply spout out scripture. Stop cherry picking the Bible. You typed a few sentences, then copied half the Bible in your response. I expect few people who frequent this website need scripture lessons, and at the very least can look up referenced scripture at their leisure.

          I am well versed in what the Bible teaches. Yes the CHURCH absolutely needs to evolve….never once did I say the Bible does. The word of God is everlasting, but how it is taught and applied is vastly different in our time.

          As Christians we need to deal with modern science, unfathomable wealth as a society, easy access to pornography, teen sexuality, global human trafficking, and many other evils that are amplified from the days of Christ. Yes the Bible addresses it, but we need to use what God tells us through the Bible is a way that the younger generation understands and can utilize. If people do not walk out of a service questioning how they live their life, or wanting to do more in the world, then your CHURCH needs to evolve.

          Also, I never said worship is about me. The songs we sing are all to praise His name and glorify Him. So again you make assumptions. Not everyone loves old hymns, I do not have a connection with this form of worship. I do fell a connection with modern Christian music. It is more closely to what I listen to and enjoy in my spare time. So for some people, musical preference makes it easier to connect. This does not make it a fleshy desire.

          I live in a country where sin is real, the Church is openly prosecuted, a majority of the population has never heard the Gospel and materialism is running rampant. My family operates in the lives of the unsaved. I need people equipped for spiritual warfare that know how to lead people away from sin and toward Christ. The youth are these people, but you need to get them in the door and get them engaged.

          Spouting off making assumptions about me because you do not like how I do Church is poor form.

          • lyn November 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

            Show me where I have cherry picked God's word.

            Show me also from God's word where the church needs to evolve. Then show me where having a worship band and playing upbeat music is scriptural. In other words, support what you claim with God's word, which is what I have done.

            The sin you say you are surrounded by is the same sin we are all surrounded by. You are not exclusive in what you say you see.

            What does the bible say we need to reach the lost? Romans 1:16 makes it pretty clear.

          • lyn November 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

            Obviously, you did not take the time to read what I posted, for you stated 'You typed a few sentences, then copied half the Bible in your response'. Let me redirect your attention back to my comment, I provided an article from A. W. Pink on proper worship; in it he does refer to God's word. However, I never copied half the Bible, as you state. I do hope you will take the time to read Pink's article on worship. Worship does not include flippant behavior and rock music masked as 'Christian', nor is worship an 'experience by which we seek to use emotions to worship God: worship comes from the heart of the believer as he/she bows in holy reverence to our God. We worship in spirit and in truth, I refer you to John 4:24, ' God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth'.

            Are you familiar with what happened to Nadab and Abihu when they offered up strange fire before the Lord {see Numbers 3:4}? Do you understand why they died? They profaned the altar by offering something God never commanded; they assumed it was acceptable. I do pray God will instill a holy fear in you so that you will not make the same grievous mistake, thinking God is okay with whatever and however we determine to 'do worship'.

            As for 'spouting off assumptions', I never assumed anything. I merely addressed your statements about the churches need to evolve, and about the contemporary style of worship you engage in. Asking for scriptural reference to back all we say and do should not be viewed with contempt, for we all should examine everything in light of God's truth. Unfortunately, in our day we do things that come from man and not from Holy Writ. We deem what we think things ought to be, then we try and justify it apart from using God's word. Sola scriptura was the cry of the Reformation, it should still be the cry today.

  14. Shannon November 25, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    I am seeing many churches in my area that fit this doctrine. I read purpose and never read purpose driven church. I wad do upholded i pitched them in file 13-trash. Thank you. I will be a regular reader of your sight.

  15. Christy Browning Bond March 9, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Just an FYI….

  16. Anthony March 15, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    I'm outright ashamed of you apostate laodiceans trying to justify this heretic rick warren's system that has polluted our churches! Basically turning churches into community centers! To hell with your turtlenecks, new age bibles, rock music, nice speakers! You people are going to be ashamed at the judgement Seat of Christ on this!

    • godsfingers January 24, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

      So you feel we should sing the bar tunes found in your hymn book? And cuss to boot.

  17. anitameg2014 April 13, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    We have been going to a local baptist church which at first seemed really friendly. But after going for a few weeks we noticed a few little things which bothered us. People didn't seem to want to talk about God, they were really happy to talk about everything else, but when you asked them questions about biblical things they got really nervous. One of the associate pastors preached a message about 'not offending' people. He was talking about watching the new 'Noah' movie and using it to reach out to the unsaved. But he was warning people not to say anything which would upset the ones they were talking to or to make them feel judged.

    He himself said that he didn't like being judged or shamed or embarassed. He seemed to think that the gospel would cause people to feel judged or shamed. It was the worst message I have heard in years, and that is truly saying something. The worst thing about it however was that the preacher seemed to be a really nice guy. I don't want to have to say anything to him about his message because he has made it clear that what he was saying was 'just his opinion'. I got the feeling that anybody who wanted to point out the error of the 'dont offend the sinners' doctrine would be told that that is 'just their opinion' and that they shouldn't judge or criticise. You can't win against this kind of mindset. They have shut out God and the truth and instead have deluded themselves that they genuinely want others to be saved when they themselves are not open to hearing from God.

    It really is a terrible deception

  18. gen3/12 September 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    would having a conversation with church leadership and questioning why it would be acceptable for the school-aged children to play in the gym on Sunday mornings as part of their small group time and effectively being told that they would never want a child to be bored during SS be symptom of a seeker-sensitive church?

    • John September 10, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      That really depends on if the are REPLACING Bible learning with play instead of using the short time to get the "kid jitters" out of them so they could learn. Kids don't want another day of school. If they can have fun and learn the Bible in the process, how can you lose with that formula? They will want to come back and bring their parents with them. Doesn't sound like a bad thing to me. The GOAL is Bible learning and if a little play time enhances or facilitates that, then goal accomplished. I would rather kids learn a small amount of truth well than be overwhelmed with too much.

  19. Ben F M Williams November 1, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    Thanks for sharing these insights. These characteristics accurately describe a place I attended for a few years (lifechurch.tv) which was nothing more than a religious house of rock music for hundreds or thousands of people and a place to hear energized motivational cheap-grace speeches. There's a book called "Unraveling the Mega-Church: True Faith or False Promises?" by Wilmer E. MacNair that sheds light on the idea that the sole purpose of these megachurches is to fuel continual growth and expansion… sort of like what a major retail chain would do. "…morphing the Church into something more like a BUSINESS than a place of worship or a place where the presence of Jesus is preserved for future generations." excerpt from http://books.google.com/books/about/Unraveling_th

    “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord”
    2 Corinthians 6:17

    “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
    Revelation 18:4
    https://plus.google.com/u/1/communities/102910139

  20. hurt68 November 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    I recently moved to this city and, after visiting several I chose one for my church. The congregation was super nice and I was happy to be there. It was of a denomination I had been brought up in, although I have attended several other churches of different denominations over the years. I was looking forward to some serious Bible Study and fellowship. I attended the early traditional service, since the "contemporary" one was not uplifting to me personally with it's loud music and strange lyrics (overtly sexual). The building mortgage seemed to be more of a topic than the Word of God at every Bible study and even in most of the sermons. However, other churches in this area are extremely liberal, so I decided to join and make glean the best I could. __Two weeks ago, a junior minister preached the Sunday sermon in the senior minister's absence. He stated, in no uncertain terms, that not enough people were signing up for the various programs offered by the church and that he and the senior minister and the staff were overworked because of it. Then, he told us to listen carefully to what he was about to say. He said that sign up sheets for the myriad of "programs" had been placed in the foyer and anyone who wasn't interested in signing up to help "grow the church" should probable leave and find a place that suited their taste. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach! I have never heard such a thing said in the pulpit to a congregation. Being female, I believe in the teachings of Paul as to woman's place in the church. However, I could not rest until I had e-mailed the minister privately and shared my hurt with him. It just seemed so wrong! His answer to me was very cold. He said the church, like any business couldn't grow without good workers and any CEO had the right to support good workers. Others should move on and find a place where they could better use their "gifts". Having just joined this church. I won't attend this church again.

  21. sharon mad December 4, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    hurt 68 I feel bad for you. This is going on all over the United State in the city I live in there is no place to service God. What these churches fail at is that. All the service that Jesus did was outside the four walls. Everyone is trying to make churches into a business and not soul winning. You wanted to grow a church go get the souls. Churches are pray out get on your needs you evil Pastor and pray that the harvest will come or go get the harvest. They will be faithful with everything with love and kindness has I draw you,

  22. Jenna January 27, 2015 at 7:20 am #

    Wait a minute, maybe I got lost in this article, but….having a coffee shop in a church is of the devil? huh?

    • godsfingers January 27, 2015 at 10:03 am #

      Well yes! We need to get back to hard pews or backless benches and NO air conditioning to be holy. J/K but let me give you an example of our son's church. The walk into the sanctuary with their donuts and cappuccino, listen to (maybe sing) a couple songs (no hands raised, donuts and cappuccino to deal with) then watch a video and go home. No ministry, no hard truths of the Gospel.

    • Anon1234 February 12, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

      12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:12-13) http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/book.php?book

      Traditionally, Churches avoided buying and selling by have a social get-together following service where, anyone who wishes, may bring a baked good to share with the rest of the congregation.

    • Joe D. March 15, 2015 at 2:12 am #

      buying and selling in the house of the LORD is evil.
      "And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." Matthew 21:13
      sorry, get and drink your coffee before service.
      and if you can't sacrifice a cup of coffee, what else won't you sacrifice?

  23. tonibrown64 January 27, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    Jenna-

    I don't think anyone is implying that a coffee shop in the church is the devil, however it is very much another sign that they want to draw in "the world" and not those truly seeking Truth. If you're thinking that drawing in the masses is not a problem, I say it is.
    When people come because the place is hip and accommodating there is likely no powerful teaching in these places that will bring people to their knees before a Holy God. In the end you have buildings full of goats feeding on the leadership that is catering to their felt needs; one of which is often busying themselves at homeless shelters and such, to soothe their own guilt more than minister to the lost. They feel good about themselves when they are "doing good"…and it is so much about SELF in these churches, though they are convinced that they are the most unselfish, compassionate people on the planet. This is everywhere!
    It is not of God. This is how we ended up where we are today…way too many false converts in the church, who are now in leadership positions- dictating their lies to the sheep.

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