I believe that the church does not need to be Seeker Sensitive as much as it needs to be Seeker Aware. These could be defined similarly, and it might be just be a matter of semantics.
Sensitive means I’m aware. I know. But today’s church culture has put a bad taste in the mouth for the word “Sensitive” even though when it was coined, the definitions would be similar to how I would define “aware.”
The church has had a polarizing stance on this. I see churches that are over the top “Seeker Sensitive.” These churches are about making the unchurched so comfortable that they are no different than a motivational speaker coming to the City Civic Center.
I also know of churches that are on the other side of the pendulum. They are so insider centered that a new person would walk in and be so out of the loop and uncomfortable, not understanding a thing that just happened.
I believe there is a healthy balance that the church should strive for. The gospel will be uncomfortable for the non-Christian and that will never change. There will always be an awkward feeling when are surrounded by people lifting their hands or clapping and singing to a God they know nothing about. These things are good and healthy. That’s part of the mystery!
But we don’t want to disregard their unsettledness while they are in our services. I believe there are ways to address the non-Christian and let them know why we do things so they are aware of what we are doing.
It’s like having a person over for dinner who doesn’t know your family or your house. You go the extra mile to explain everything from where the bathroom is, to why your kids do the weird things they do. That awareness is what I’m referring to when we are facilitating a place where the non-Christian comes to our services.
The bottom line is:
We need to be aware that non-Christians are in our services.
When we speak to the new person in an informative and non-threating way, we remove the uneasiness and help breakdown walls that might keep them from connecting with God.
I’m a believer that Holy Spirit can do an amazing work in people, but we need to work hard to eliminate any obstacles that could make His work harder.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Challenge your assumptions. Never assume everything you say is understood. Keep in mind that people don’t know who you are and might not know who you are talking about or if you are joking.
- The non-Christian isn’t used to singing and participating like we love to do in church. They are used to spectating and not participating. I’m not saying that 40+ min worship services are bad. Just be aware that they are not used to it.
- The new person doesn’t know where everything is or who everyone might be. Make sure you have people around who can be available to point people in the right direction. You may know your the worship leader, or Associate/Lead Pastor, but they don’t know.
- The new person doesn’t have any empathy. You know Billy-Bob. They don’t. You know that he’s a sweet guy but has a couple of quirks. The non-Christian doesn’t know him and that he is just sweet guy so don’t make him your greeter or put him at the info desk. The new person doesn’t know that the bass player never gets it right, but his heart is in the right place.
- The new person needs to know what to do next. Again don’t assume that they know what to do with what they have just heard. Be clear about next steps or where they can go to get more information or talk to someone and provide opportunities for them to engage in growth.
- Your facility is a reflection of your church. When I walk into a hotel, I can spot everything wrong. When new people walk into our places of worship, they can spot the stained ceiling tile, the cluttered bathroom counter, ect. The way they think of your facility will be projected on you and your church.
- The service begins in the parking lot. When a new person steps on your campus, they are already forming a decision about whether they will be returning or not. Church guru’s say that a new person will determine if they are going to return within the first five minutes of coming onto your campus… not your service.
So step it up and get prepared for new people to come to your service.
What are some other areas that we need to keep in mind for new people coming to church? Comment your thoughts below.