Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Good Kind of Seeker-Sensitivity

The term "seeker-sensitive" is a pretty loathsome term for many people. It smells of compromising the truth of the gospel in order to win crowds by giving them what they want. And I admit, I loathe that kind of attitude myself.

But a couple of weeks ago I listened to a sermon by Mark Dever in which I saw a wonderful kind of "seeker-sensitivity" (you can listen to the sermon here). As you would imagine from a guy like Dever, this had nothing to do with selling out the truth. It had to do with a very small thing at the beginning of his sermon.

In asking the congregation to turn to Revelation 21 (the passage for the morning's sermon), Dever said something along the lines of:

"If you're not familiar with the Bible, just turn to very end and thumb a few pages backwards. The large numbers are the chapters, and the smaller numbers are the verse numbers. We are going to begin in chapter 21, verse 1 today..."

And then he went on to read the passage and preached for over an hour (not seeker-sensitive there!). I was really impressed by this small gesture, a simple statement to those present who were not Christians that Dever was thinking about them, and aware of and grateful for their presence in the congregation that day.

Now that is a positive way to be senstive to those investigating the Christian faith. As it is, many evangelical churches (most?) speak in only "churchish" language that leaves a non-believer feeling like he or she doesn't belong.

The message of the cross is a stumbling block; that we will not change! But churches need to do everything possible to remove all unneccessary stumbling blocks, which means having a constant awareness that non-believers are in your presence, and "coming down to their level" so that they can keep up with what is going on.

I was grateful for that reminder from Mark Dever.


  1. I strongly agree how often do we use church phrases assuming everyone understands but leaves most of us out in the dark assuming we all understand. Often assuming comprehension when in actually completey oblivious to the truth.

  2. I was convicted at my own bible study yesterday about this very thing! I was talking about "rehearsing the gospel" to ourselves daily. Two of the people there didn't know what 'gospel' meant. I was assuming too much! They needed the basics and I wanted to dive much deeper. I was so very thankful for their humility to let me know, "I don't know what you're talking about".