Seeker Sensitive Churches

 How do we “do church” in this changing culture of the 21st century?  What do the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States and about a half-million pastors do to succeed? Well, the pastors need training, biblical knowledge, integrity, leadership, a love for God, a high sense of calling–and maybe one more thing: an attorney!  It seems that today, pastors need lawyers to help us to be able to continue to preach and function as God intended. That’s why we can be thankful for groups today like the Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF), the Family Research Council (FRC), the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), and others who are fighting for our freedoms of speech and religious liberties. But, they face a very challenging battle from groups like the ACLU and other Freedom from Religion groups, not to mention from our current administration. 

     As pastors today, we find ourselves in a new era with a changing world view and mindset in our nation, which was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. For the past several decades, churches have been urged to be “seeker-sensitive.” Well, who would want to be “seeker-insensitive“?  But, as we so often do, we’ve succumbed to the “perils of the pendulum.” We’ve taken that philosophy in an unintended direction, and it’s revealed a glaring weakness in our understanding of what it is to be a biblical pastor.  Pastors, by nature, are (or should be) people who love and care about others.  That’s a positive thing–unless we mistake that love for people as meaning that we are also to be loved by all people. That desire to be liked by all can reduce the boldness that needs to be part of the pulpit ministry of the pastor. As a result, we are seeing many Christian institutions and churches that have become compromised by the culture, something which happens when the desire for the respect of others outweighs the drive to please God.  Add to that the pressure to be “politically correct” and what do you have? How has our preaching worked out for us over the past, say, 40 years?  Are our congregations more righteous? Are our communities being impacted for Christ?
     Fifty years ago, people understood that killing a baby in the womb was wrong. Preach that today, and you’re being “too political.” Preach that homosexual behavior is unacceptable to God, or that marriage means one man and one woman–again you are being too political and may even be charged with “hate speech” or being a “homophobe.” Wow, what has happened to our country? What has happened to our churches? What has happened to our preaching?  How did being “biblical” suddenly become being too political or using “hate speech”?  As pastors are we such clear disseminators of truth that we pose a threat to those who would try to oppress freedom, truth, and righteousness in our culture? For so many years, many pastors have failed to provide biblical preaching in America that now, when many people hear biblical preaching they don’t recognize it as being biblical. They think it’s somehow “political.”  And, that’s largely our fault as pastors, for caring more about the affection of the culture than the truth of the Gospel. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, recently said, “Pastors are the last line of defense.” He’s right, but weren’t we to be the first line of defense? (Family Research Council’s office in D.C. was recently attacked by a gunman who didn’t like their stand on traditional marriage. The operations manager, Leo, was shot but was still able to disarm and subdue the activist).
     We are at a crisis point in our great nation where we desperately need spiritual renewal and it won’t happen unless pastors are absolutely free to preach biblically and believers are free to live out their faith and share God’s truths publicly. We need the boldness of our forefathers where our fear of the culture matters less than our reverence for the God we serve. We need to heed Paul’s challenge to young Timothy to “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (II Tim. 4:2).  We need to “not be ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Ro. 1:16) and not to “shrink from declaring the whole purpose (counsel) of God” (Acts 20:27).  Oh, we need to be sensitive to those who are truly “truth seekers,” but we must not compromise or water down God’s Word in doing so. We are to be “biblically correct,” whether or not we are accused of being too political or not “politically correct.”  We need to remember that “It is the Lord Christ whom we serve”  and we are to try much harder to be pleasing unto Him than to be pleasing unto man (Col. 3:23-24). 
 
                                                                                                          Forever His,
                                                                                                                Pastor Dave
 
(P.S.  Some of the material for today’s devotional was taken from an article by Jim Garlow in the recent letter from “Alliance Defending Freedom.”
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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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