What is interesting however are those who leave citing positions that I do not hold. Hence a couple of emails this week assumed that I teach the “seeker sensitive” marketing methods that were popular in the last decade. They are no longer on the cutting edge as the evangelical church has moved on to other tactics to foster growth.
At any rate, I must admit that it has been a while since I have written on the topic. Here is an article two years ago entitled God’s Grace or Mere Methods. Here is another one entitled Surface Needs or Real Needs written about a year ago. Then there is another one of a couple of years ago that I titled Seeker Sensitive Ministry and Felt Needs Preaching.
Essentially, I believe that the church runs into issues when it attempts to use marketing methods that are alien to it. Madison Avenue techniques are designed for Madison Avenue. They are designed to help marketers to market products.
Some techniques look at what people want. They then construct a product to give people what they want. In contrast, a “gospel oriented ministry” will not be constructed around what people want. In many cases we are so messed up we do not even know what we need. A Gospel oriented ministry will not construct ministries around what the people want. Instead it will construct around what the people need as enlightened by the Most High God.
My 5 year old child would eat candy every day if it were up to him. His “felt needs” are for more sweets and less vegetables. However, I know that would not be for his good and so I give him the vegetables. I give him water and juice instead of soda pop. I give him what he needs whether he feels he needs it or not. I give him what he would want me to give him were he to look at it from my perspective as his father.
Many of us are serving candy and soda pop to our people. We want the big church so we don’t tell them what they need, but we tell them what they want to hear. We throw a whoop on the end of some pablum and feel happy that malnourished saints enjoy our anemic messages.
Maybe some of our people are not growing as Christians because we are giving them candy instead of solid food. What is solid food? Yes forgiveness is solid food. Our need for the most high God to step in our lives. That is solid food. But also, sometime you gotta talk about the ethical requirements of “being Saved.” What is expected of one who has this spiritual power that God alone gives? Sometime you gotta talk about loving the unlovable. That’s solid food. Sometimes you gotta talk about blessing those that curse you and doing good to those who despite-fully use and abuse you. Yes that’s solid food. Sometime you gotta talk about our connection to systems of evil in this world during the rest of the week. Yes, That’s solid food.
We have heard about God getting us a new car and a new house enough. Now it is time to start hearing about a God that will use us to relieve suffering. We have heard about being blessed enough, now it is time to start talking about being a blessing. We have heard about God “hooking us up” enough, now it is time to start hearing about “You hooking someone else up!”
As preachers, it is time to move on so that the Good News can be good to somebody else beside just the folks sitting in front of you every Sunday morning. May the Lord bless us as we seek to preach the whole counsel.