Thursday, November 01, 2007

"Seeker Friendly" = Disciple-less?

What must it feel like to know that you have led millions of people astray, and started a movement that has grown much bigger than yourself and cannot be easily stopped or turned around? That is how Bill Hybels must feel right now. Apparently, he was very instrumental in the launching and promoting of the "seeker sensitive" movement, with its man-made philosophy of evangelism and church growth. Now, due to the findings of a study conducted to investigate the results and effectiveness of their methods, he realizes that replacing traditional biblical methods of evangelism for their man-made methods was "a mistake."

Bob Burney analyses Mr. Hybel's confession in the article, "Seeker Friendly Church Leader Admits They Have Done It All Wrong," on the Christian Worldview Network. Commenting on the magnitude of this "mistake," he notes:
"...the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a “mistake.” The extent of this error defies measurement."
Burney notes that while the movement is successful by the measure of the world - that is, in numbers - it falls far short of producing the "rooted and grounded" disciples that Jesus desires in His Church.
"The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples....If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust."

It is encouraging that Mr. Hybels at least realizes his mistake now. Rather than condemning him and other such leaders for leading so many astray, we should be praying for them that they would have the courage to work to counter what they helped to start, and that they would return to the time-tested, sciptural methods rather than trying to think up new methods on their own.

This should also remind us of the importance of knowing God's Word for ourselves, lest we also be led astray. Rather than backing up our own beliefs with scripture, we should look to scripture for our beliefs in the first place. Lest, while we stand firm in our convictions, we blindly lead the blind into the ditch. In addition, knowing what is right and wrong is of no value unless we act upon that knowledge by living it out from day to day. Only heaven will show the effect we have on others, either way, as we live our lives.

As an afterthought, I was just reminded of the passage in I Corinthians 3: 10 - 15 that talks about building God's Temple, the Church. Not all building materials are equal. Some will not withstand the fire. While the builder himself might be spared, his entire life work, as it were, could be consumed. Let us therefore, as Paul warns, "take heed how [we] build thereon," and choose only the best materials.