Saturday, November 17, 2012

Salt of the earth: Why "seeker-sensitive" and "relevant" can backfire

"Seeker-sensitive" and "relevant" are buzzwords. They are favorite phrases used to promote changes to the church. These changes are supposed to bring in more people who are unchurched. I know that "seeker-sensitive" and "relevant" can mean different things to different people. Speaking for myself, what I usually see from "seeker-sensitive" churches is "salt that has lost its savor". If a church makes a conscious effort to be like the world, and comfortable to those in the world, and unchallenging to those in the world, then it is no different than the rest of the world. There is no barrier, now, to those who would want to come -- and there is also no point in coming.

Think about sitting down to eat, and you reach for the salt shaker. If the salt tasted just like your food already tastes, would you bother with the salt? The reason we reach for the salt shaker is because it is different from what our food already tastes like. If the salt were the same flavor as the food, it would have no value to us. (Because some people delight in picking nits, I should mention: I'm not encouraging you to over-do the salt at meals; a healthy diet requires some measure of salt.)

Those who want to make the church "seeker-sensitive" and "relevant" by watering down Jesus' teachings are possibly well-meaning, but are taking the exact opposite direction from what would help. The world is full of hurt and cynicism. It lacks a clear direction. It lacks a sense of right and wrong. It lacks a sense of the holy. If we want people to reach for us when they want a change from the world, we have to be unapologetically different from that world. We have to be what Christ called us to be: nothing more, nothing less.


Martin LaBar said...


Howard said...

You might find my latest blog entry interesting: