Thoughts on Seeking and Feeding

Todd

Thanks everyone for your feedback on the previous posts. I wanted to share some thoughts I had about both subjects.

Seeker Sensitive Worship

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. — Hebrews 11:6

Do we believe this verse? Do we believe that God rewards those who seek Him? If so, there are some pretty profound implications.

If this verse is true, our role as evangelists becomes more of a “tour guide” than a preacher; our job is less about indoctrination and more about pointing out where God can be seen. In “Velvet Elvis,” Rob Bell talks about feeling a great burden to “bring God” to the godless and his realization that God was already there. I absolutely love that idea.

So, how does that change the way we reach out to atheists, Buddhists and the disenfranchised? Is it by playing “relevant” worship or popular music? Is it by dumbing down the gospel message so anybody can understand it? Is it by removing all symbols of the Christian faith so everybody feels comfortable?

No, I don’t think so. I don’t think any of those things are going to help people in their seeking. It might make them comfortable with exploring this Christian thing we’re doing here in America, but I’m not sure that’s the point.

Before I cross into blasphemy territory (which is very easy to do depending upon who reads your blog), I want to hear your thoughts. If we believe (do we?) that God rewards those who earnestly seek him, how does that change what our churches do?

Getting Fed

After reading Shaun’s account of going to Ethiopia and his interaction with the church there (which has doubled in the past 14 years), I can’t help but feel an unhealthy anger (which I’m aware of and will begin to work on upon the completion of this post) toward those who blame their lack of church commitment and/or involvement on this tired excuse. We are living in a sad time in the American church that is fostering—not fighting—a consumer-driven, me-centric mindset that is sickening.

I’m not suggesting that we adopt the ways of the 1950s-in-2007 church, but we certainly need to be calling followers of Christ to something significantly higher than “being fed” on Sundays during worship time.

So, question time again: How can we fight this “getting fed” mindset?

Thanks for your (forthcoming) thoughts.
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7 Comments

  1. November 19, 2007 at 12:10 pm — Reply

    Seeker Sensitive – I’m not a preacher. Or a decision-maker for any church body larger than my own home. But, if I were a “seeker”, I think I might be slightly offended by the term “seeker sensitive” and all the watering down or relevantizing (yeah that’s a word) that is done. It also seems to me that “seekers” are drawn to places where actual good news is spoken. Jesus had crowds and he was rarely “seeker sensitive”. I guess my point is that preaching partial gospel by staying away from the difficult teachings, doesn’t do anyone any favors, especially seekers. We shouldn’t undermine folks’ intelligence. I realize this didn’t answer your question and I apologize.

    Getting fed – I think that when people say this, they are, most of the time, talking about the preacher/pastor being boring. I think what they are really upset about, might have something to do with not having any kind of real life change. It’s my opinion that, when we go to worship, something should always happen. Maybe we walk away convicted our some sin we’ve been harboring. Maybe we walk away filled with encouragement. Maybe we walk away angry (because sometimes the scripture ticks us off). But we should never, ever walk away unaffected. A preacher has to be willing to tell folks what scripture says about their sins but that doesn’t grow a church. And a listener has to be open-minded. If a preacher shys away from the difficult stuff for the sake of making folks feel good about themselves, he/she sins. If a listener closes off his/her ears and refuses to allow God to do the work he’s trying to do, he/she sins.

  2. November 19, 2007 at 12:13 pm — Reply

    I completely agree with your thoughts on the “seeker” stuff. Tour-guide is a much better POV to take than preacher.
    As far as the “getting-fed” mentality, I think that we really need to make a push for several different things that will offset this mindset. First of all, we need to be held accountable & hold others accountable for maturing into an all-encompassing faith. I think that part of the problem with the “getting-fed” mindset is that it tends to be a Sunday morning driven faith. Second of all, we must do a better job at teaching about & how to “Love our neighbors.” When the focus is on giving, helping, & serving it is hard to remain focused on ourselves.

  3. November 19, 2007 at 2:47 pm — Reply

    Thanks, Todd! I look forward to seeing you as well!

  4. November 20, 2007 at 12:33 am — Reply

    I wish we could see Sunday mornings as a time when we gather to celebrate how we’ve seen/experienced God at work during the week. That would go far to change the expectation of ‘receiving’ during that gathering. But first, we have to be ABLE to see/experience God during the week. Sam’s right. A Sunday-morning-driven faith turns very quickly consumeristic. Form, rather than content, becomes the focus. But when it comes to relating to visitors/guests/seekers, I think our responsibility is to present truth as clearly and honestly as we can. When we try to do that, we have to pay more attention to content than form. And thus the conflict arises….

  5. Kristin
    November 20, 2007 at 9:06 am — Reply

    I read an article this morning and it said a few things I liked. First, it qouted Paul, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4).
    And, then the author said, “Paul understood that it wasn’t words that impacted people; it was the power of God manifested through him.”
    It made me think of this blog topic as of late.

  6. November 20, 2007 at 1:07 pm — Reply

    “Let ’em eat cake!”

  7. baxter
    November 21, 2007 at 11:26 am — Reply

    Walking into a building on Sunday mornings can leave one feeling lonely, and empty. For others, that can be a suficient time to satisfy what they are looking for spiritually (feeling “fed”). Yet for others, they can feel very passionate and thankful that they have been with God. What do “I” want? Simplicity, truth, reality, fellowship, intimacy, love. The early church continued in the apostles teaching, the breaking of bread and prayer. I think in many ways the way we get together on Sundays hinders the “gifts” of the believers, therefore, many of the believers for lack of opportunity sit in the pews while their gifts lie dormant. It’s as if there is opportunity for only one member of the body to use their gifts and share their faith. The rest listen and when all is said and done, they go home. When do you ever hear of a group of believers just gather together and read the word. “Neh 8:1 And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel.
    Neh 8:2 Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who {could} listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.
    Neh 8:3 He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.
    Neh 8:4 Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah {and} Meshullam on his left hand.
    Neh 8:5 Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
    Neh 8:6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with {their} faces to the ground.
    Neh 8:7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people {remained} in their place.
    Neh 8:8 They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
    Neh 8:9 ¶ Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest {and} scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law…Neh 9:3 While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; and for {another} fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God…”
    Now that is REAL. While I wouldn’t want to require or burden believers to feel they HAVE to bring something to the table, I believe that if you gather round the Word and just read in a setting that would promote the utilization of the WHOLE body (in other words it wouldn’t be out of line for someone other than the preacher to stand up and share something that perhaps became light to them in the reading of the scriptures), that lives will change and growth will come and believers will get to know each other on a more personal level and LOVE will grow and God will be glorified. Worship will become spontaneous and songs of LOVE will be sung. And all men will know that we are His disciples by our love for one another. That’s my dream. That’s my longing. Keeping it simple, keeping it real.

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Thoughts on Seeking and Feeding