Posts Tagged seeker sensitive
When I was a kid, many churches didn’t engage my generation. Most of my friends “went to church” but we didn’t follow Christ. The American church (for the most part) lost touch with how to engage the younger generations.
The church needed to change. And it did. We needed to become more relevant in the way we engaged non-believers, challenged believers, and presented God’s Word. One result was the “seeker-sensitive” church. This movement brought some very positive changes, including:
- We don’t assume everyone is a believer when they come to church.
- We don’t assume everyone knows our language, has a Bible, or even cares about Christ.
- We are more outward-focused.
- Cool lights and videos
- A coffee shop
- Sermon series with catchy titles and intro videos
- A stool and a table on the stage
- Buildings with no Christian symbols
- ___________ (Fill in your own blank. There are too many of these things to list.)
Jesus was not seeker sensitive. He was not after the crowds. Obviously, his signs and wonders, and authoritative teaching naturally drew crowds. But in the scene below we find Jesus trying to escape the clamoring crowds and find a moment of solitude. Even more shocking, when his disciples tell him of a crowd of people looking for him, he leaves them in the dust and goes to another village! Mark sets the scene:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons (Mark 1:35-39).
In contemporary terms, we would say Jesus’ ministry is exploding in numbers, his “church services” are now standing room only, and his leadership team (disciples) are wondering where the “senior pastor” has run off to!
Keri and I are currently planting a new church with a team of adventurous Christians, and when you are attempting to build a community and ministry from the ground up, numbers take on more significance. We are thrilled when five new people show up for one of our gatherings. So, I can sympathize with the disciples in this story who don’t want to let this opportunity slip away. In fact, I giggle when I read this story in light of our own situation. Here’s the crazy scene I imagine in my mind: Read the rest of this entry »
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons” (Mark 1:35-39).
Several lessons pour forth from this little episode.
1. First, Jesus had a daily habit of quiet prayer time with God to center and sustain him in ministry. If the Son of God made this a habit in his ministry, how much more do I need to make room for this. Thankfully it is spring time in Minnesota and the air is warmer for me to resume my regularly prayer walks. If not prayer walks, I recommend shower talks, or car chats on the way to and from work.
I don’t think it’s reading too much into the text that Jesus both “got up” and “left the house” in order to meet with God. In my experience, bedtime prayers and coffee table devotions, while good practices, still don’t have the same power as physically finding some sacred space outside the home. Is there a park? A walking trail? A building that more powerfully gives off that holy aura? I have a little fishing pier jetting out into Lake Minnetonka at a small, unknown beach just a few blocks from our home that I have made a holy meeting space for prayer and solitude.
2. Second, we find an strange scene where Jesus intentionally avoids a crowd of seekers. Just another reminder that Jesus’ model of ministry wasn’t always as seeker-sensitive as we would like it to be. There is a lesson in here. Even Jesus couldn’t (or at least didn’t) minister to everyone’s needs. He wasn’t the omnipresent pastor we leaders often feel we need to be. He had his mission, and therefore said ‘no’ to many good ministry opportunities in order to say ‘yes’ to his primary task. This kind of resolve takes great discipline, focus and growing more and more comfortable upsetting others and letting people down. Are you willing to disappoint others in order to please God? Read the rest of this entry »