Lessons from Seeker Sensitive Churches

April 25, 2005 by

The Toledo Blade covered “seeker-sensitive” churches this weekend and here are a few highlights.

The biggest value to these seeker-sensitive churches is that they’re open to the fact that church often turns people off. And they do something about it:

“We try to take out the stumbling blocks,” said the Rev. Lee Powell, lead pastor of CedarCreek. “Surveys consistently show that there are four reasons why people don’t go to church: It’s boring, it’s irrelevant, the music is outdated, or they feel we’re only interested in money.”

Note that this doesn’t mean watering down the message:

“In addition to asking if it’s biblical, if it’s right, and if it’s of God, we’re asking: ‘Does it translate into the everyday life of a normal person who has not been to church in five years?’ The question should not drive everything you do—but it should be asked.” -Glenn Teal, pastor of CrossRoads Community Church in Temperance, Mich.

I like how Teal puts it: relating to the average person is important, but it doesn’t need to drive everything. (Though I can’t help but laugh at CrossRoads’ url: ExcitingChurch.com. I suppose there can only be so many iterations of ‘Crossroads.com’. But props to Pastor Teal for blogging.)

The article also touches on the mega-advertising of megachurches:

Many seeker churches invest heavily in advertising and marketing to attract attendance, buying ads in newspapers and electronic media as well as billboards.

Still, about 80 percent of first-time visitors come because they were personally invited, Pastor Powell said.

CedarCreek’s 46-year-old pastor was a national advertising executive at Sears before entering the ministry.

“When I worked at Sears, we used to buy tire ads every week,” Pastor Powell said. “Most of the time people pay no attention to them. But when they need a tire—that’s when they looked for the ad.”

It’s the same with church ads, or as he prefers to call them, “outreach.” CedarCreek wants to be visible when somebody who is seeking spiritual answers is thinking about going to church, he said.

It’s interesting to hear the justification from a former ad exec, though I’m curious about what the church does to capitalize on the 80% of visitors who come from personal invitations. That seems like an untapped resource.

And finally, I just love this quote:

“It’s so much fun that it’s almost like not being in church,” 68-year-old Buck Miller said with a wink.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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3 Responses to “Lessons from Seeker Sensitive Churches”

  • Glenn Teal
    April 25, 2005

    You have to know Buck Miller to really understand his closing quote. He’s an older guy – old school too — who loves being involved with outreach to spiritually confused people. I think the key word for Buck is — almost.
    Just a thought.

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  • Jeffrey
    April 28, 2005

    Hey what’s up–first time commenting on this blog. You rock. Seeker sensitivity needs further definition before we can carry on a conversation about it. Are we discussing it as a style or a lifestyle?
    As a style, it’s great for more linear and modern thinkers, but emerging generations crave the experience that the seeker- sensitive “style” has removed.
    As a lifestyle, it’s a necessity! Disciples of all generations must live a life constantly sensitive to pre-seekers, seekers, and post-seekers; but what benefit is brought by removing “stumbling blocks”? Is that not just painting an unrealistic picture of Christian spirituality? Perhaps this is the reason for the disenchantment of many new believers these days–the Christian life they try to live isn’t really what we “sold” them…it’s MUCH MUCH more, yet they do not know the way to it.

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  • Steve
    May 12, 2005

    The church is primarially for Christians. They are suppossed to go into the world and preach the Gospel, not bring the world into the church.
    Romans 3:11 says, “There is NONE that seeketh after God.”

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