Seek Ye Church

Adapted from Chapter 4 of Insincere, Irrelevant, Invalid.

When discussing the attitudes and worldviews that the Millennial and Gen Z generations have towards the older generations, we cannot leave out the major religious views prevalent in the culture and in the Church in which they were failed from the time of their upbringing. These major views can be defined as the Prosperity Gospel and the Seeker Sensitive movement.

The Prosperity Gospel gave us a theology of empowerment and positivity, with blessings of health and wealth being promised by God. At the same time, the Seeker Sensitive movement placed all facets of the Sunday service on being as attractive and comfortable to the outside world as possible. I understand there are plenty of other movements that arose in that same time frame, New Apostolic Reformation, Emergent Church, etc. But I specifically chose these main movements and ideologies for a particular reason, as these movements seemly seep into all other postmodern church movements.

But first, let us dive into the Seeker Sensitive Movement.

Hide and Seek

Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven series came out of nowhere and really “drove” the start of this new Mega Church Movement (with the pun intended). It was the first Seeker Sensitive movement that truly gained traction and large attention throughout America and the world. Rick Warren based the Purpose of the Church on 5 major purposes, which were derived from the Great Commission, Mat. 28:19, and the Great Commandment found in Mat. 22:37-40. The 5 purposes being Worship, Ministry, Evangelism, Fellowship, and Discipleship. [1] He then lays out the foundation of the church by saying, “by clarifying in the minds of everyone involved exactly why the church exists and what it is supposed to do. There is incredible power in having a clearly defined purpose statement”[2] By taking these 5 purposes, the Church then is to derive a mission statement or goal from these and then finds ways to implement and execute these goals. By no means is there any problem in having a defined purpose as a church if that purpose is defined and regulated by the Bible. The problem with the Purpose Driven Church and the rest of the Seeker Sensitive Movement is in the implementation of these purposes, treating the Church as a business structure, marketing the Church and its services to unbelievers found in your area, and basing results on the growth of said Church.

It must be pointed out that Warren himself admits he was heavily influenced and mentored by Peter Drucker,[3] who was known as the Father of Modern Management.[4] Known for his SMART and MBO methodologies, lays out how Drucker’s processes “involves superiors and their subordinates working together to identify common goals, defining each employee’s area of responsibility and expected results, and using these as a plan for a team and to measure its performance.”[5] When applied to the Church this must mean that the Church must define its product, consumer base, and their needs while ensuring that the product can meet said needs. In this case, the product is the Gospel, and that product needs to be properly packaged and presented to be consumed by the consumer. The Church must always cater to the consumer, or in this case the unbeliever. The performance can then be gauged by how many people the Church is reaching or bringing in, and the packaging and presentation of the product can be changed according to the results. It’s a pragmatic approach, the more people come, the more you must be doing something right.

The phrase “the customer is always right,” is truly the mantra behind the famous Rick Warren book and the Seeker Movement as a whole. Warren states that “anybody can be won to Christ if you find the keys to his or her heart.”[6] He also states, “You must figure out what works best to reach seekers in your local context”[7] Meaning, find what that person wants or needs, cater the Church service to that specific want or need, then they will come, and in turn, they eventually become a part of the congregation. The Seeker Church is truly run just like a corporation with a pragmatic approach based on results. You must define your goals and purpose, define your demographic, find what will attract them to the Church, and eventually, they will get saved. The problem with this approach though is that the world around us is constantly changing and evolving, and to consistently gain more members into the pews, the Church must constantly be changing its outreach by doing more and more outrageous things. What we are saying to the outside community and even those inside of our Church when using Seeker techniques to grow, is that the Gospel message on its own is not enough. It is lacking, it is boring, and it is insufficient to change people’s lives, therefore we need to make it fun, and we need to make it more palatable.

Paul Carter writes in The Gospel Coalition that the Seeker movement is no more than a bait-and-switch routine. [8] And at its core, the Seeker Sensitive Movement is nothing more than just that. What you win people over with, is what you are going to keep them with. If the consumer bought into the idea of that shiny packaged product you presented, don’t be surprised when they decide to turn away from the dull product that is found on the inside that you try and push on them.


 We must give props to Warren and those touting a Seeker Church to reach more congregants, as it does seem to be a useful approach to growing a church if a particular Church’s main goal is a simple head count each Sunday. Although perhaps effective, the problem with this Seeker methodology is that it draws a line between the message of the Gospel and how God saves sinners. These churches subconsciously point out and say that the Gospel of God is a separate entity by which he brings and calls those in His church, which biblically we understand is just not true. Mark Dever states on his 9Marks website that, “God’s message is His method (Isa 55:10-11; Rom 1:16).”[9] It has never been the Churches job to “doll up” the church nor present the Gospel as anything less than shown in the Bible. 

Taking a glance at the parable of the Sower and the Seed in Matt.13, notice how the Sower just merely goes about throwing the seed. The Sower himself did nothing special to the seed, he did not try to throw the seed in different ways, left-handed, behind the back, it did not matter what type of clothing he was wearing, he simply went out and sown the seed. John MacArthur expounds on this parable as it pertains to our calling to sow as Christians. [10]

So, it is with the Gospel. If we truly believe the Gospel to be insufficient or believe God’s ability to draw wretched sinners to Himself needs improvement or polishing, then not only are we cheapening the Gospel, and the Church, we are cheapening the God of the universe. We are saying God’s message, His abilities, and His perfect plan, are all insignificant and lack the power to convert unbelievers to Him. Think about what is being presented about the Church, God, and His power, to the younger generations growing in this type of movement, and how this affects their outlook on Christianity for years to come.  

No man Seeks

The Seeker Sensitive methodology, as a whole, is based upon a fundamental theological misunderstanding. This misunderstanding is that everyone is Seeking God. All around us, we see people looking for peace and meaning in their life. And ultimately, we know as Christians the only way that one may find these things is in Jesus Christ. So, on the outside, it looks as though there are unbelievers genuinely seeking after God. But, Paul states very clearly that “no man seeks God” in Romans 3:11. A universal (reaching to all humans) negative. So how can this be? What we see all around us is that unbelievers are merely seeking after the benefits of God, and yet at the same time rejecting Him. R.C. Sproul states, “We have such a superficial understanding of seeking that we attribute it to non-believers when the non-believer is not seeking God—he’s running away from God. He is seeking the benefits that only God can give him, but he wants the benefits of God without God.”[11] John Samson piggybacks this when describing the nature of fallen man, “We are born DOA (dead on arrival) spiritually speaking, yet we walk a course mapped out for us by the Prince of Darkness. We are by nature children of wrath rather than children of God and unless God intervenes, we will never seek to know the one true God.”[12] The Bible makes it clear that man is dead in its sins, enslaved to our sins, and we do not seek the true God unless something miraculous happens to us that changes our heart and our desires. RC Sproul states that only the believer can seek God, and “To seek God is the business of the Christian. The quest begins at conversion; it doesn’t end there. Once we have ‘found’ him, the real search begins. We say, ‘I found it’ because he found us and now invites us to seek him until we pass through the veil into heaven.”[13]

If these unbelievers are not seeking God, what are they seeking? Unbelievers are seeking to be entertained, feel good, reassured that God loves them even though they are wallowing in their sins. They seek the benefits of the gift of Jesus Christ and the Gospel yet are constantly running from Him. If the Church is not supposed to pander to the wants and desires of fallen man, then exactly what is the purpose of the Church?

[1] Warren, R. (1995). The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God’s Eyes. Zondervan.p80

[2] Warren, R. (1995). The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God’s Eyes. Zondervan.p86

[3] DruckerInst. “Rick Warren on Peter Drucker and the Character of Great Leaders.” YouTube, uploaded by DruckerInst, 15 Jan. 2010,



[6] Warren, R. (1995). The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God’s Eyes. Zondervan.p219

[7] Warren, R. (1995). The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God’s Eyes. Zondervan.p249