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I've been hearing rumblings about this lately and finally found an article. Here is the article from Christianity Today about Willow Creek's abandonment of seeker-sensitive services. It seems they are now attempting to target those with spiritual maturity and teach sound theology (my interpretation). The article discusses findings from surveys indicating that seekers were not responding and mature believers were "stalling" and contemplating leaving the church. (It doesn't specify whether that refers to Willow Creek or to the church in general.) There is a blog post with more links and info.

I may have to buy the book referenced in the article. I am now very curious. Of course, you cannot make people grow spiritually. But what does it take to create a climate where spiritual growth can happen? The minister's dilemma seems to be how to make people welcome and even draw them in without sacrificing something important or doing things that just make the church more like the rest of the world until there is no genuine church left.

If you have ever been a "seeker," what is it that has drawn you into a church? What makes you want to go back? What makes you feel safe enough to risk spiritual growth in the church community? What turns you off?

This is a public post. It is public on purpose--I'm hoping to generate some dialogue. If you need private dialogue, please know that you're welcome to use my email address--it's in my profile, and I'm very happy to dialogue with you alone if you need it.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
cindynmuttnaz
Jun. 17th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
Wow. Really thought provoking. Okay so here goes this may be a long response so forgive me.

Many years ago I was introduced to my former church Phoenix First Assembly by my great-grandmother. She took me to their various paegents and programs over the years as I was a child. When I got older, I wanted to become a part of that church.

What drew me in back then was that people seemed generally glad I was there, they welcomed me and drew me into the fold. Back then they didn't see a person with a disability (pre-dog years). I was finally part of a family. My home life sucked so church was my family. I joined the choir, got involved with the celebration productions, and I was even made a Celebrate America head set artist. I realize now that some people genuinely wanted me there but more and more I see that I was there just serving a function that they needed fulfilled.

Once I got my dog (my disabilities hadn't changed over the years I just had a dog) attitudes and how people precieved me began to change. I was deemed a liability and removed from most of the activities which I took part in before. I even requested to sign a release of liability waiver so I could continue in the activities which I was a part of. I was serving the Lord, doing something I loved. Now I had people telling me I couldn't because I had a dog. Choir became a mess. I wasn't allowed to sit in my normal spot with my friends who were Soprano II's, I had to sit on the end of the row because of Lila with the Soprano I's. Then I was prevented from singing in a DVD recording because I had a dog. It's like they didn't want any "visible" disabilities to be seen. So it was then that I withdrew from the choir.

I left the church completely shortly after I was told that I had to put my dog in a particular spot where she would get trampled on, not be seen, and pose more of a liability than if she were laying under my seat. I was also told that if I "made waves" I would be escorted out by the police.

So in looking for a church now, I am looking for a place that will accept me for who I am (disabilities and all), realize that I can be a valuable part of the congregation, and that I have more to offer other than occupying a pew or chair. I am also drawn to places where the anointing and God seem present. When I was at Phoenix First the anointing would flow most every Sunday. Now it's more of a man oriented feel good sermon preaching, do what you feel is right kind of church. One that I don't want to be a part of because they preach more of Man's gospel than they do God's gospel. I want a place to grow, to learn, to be a part of, and to feel like I belong.

I hope this makes some sense.
3kitties
Jun. 17th, 2008 10:15 pm (UTC)
wow thanks
This is incredibly thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself. [hugs]
circleofquiet1
Jun. 19th, 2008 03:35 am (UTC)
I know of a pastor who lost a majority of his long time flock because of his seeker friendly services. Too much milk and not enough meat and so the mature flock had to go elsewhere to be spiritually fed. I think the whole seeker friendly thing is a way to dumb down services so that noone will be offended also.

I've never been a "seeker" in that every service I've ever been to I try and learn something whatever it is that the pastor is preaching that day. I go back if I feel I'm learning something or the Lord presses me to. Don't feel safe to pursue spiritual growth in the church community so I do alot of that alone. What turns me off is pastors who try and play it safe and/or water down scripture so that they won't offend anyone. Cause you know church members equals $$.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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