Reaching “Seekers”? They Don’t Exist!
The ultimate purpose of God’s church is God’s glory. The church exists for His sake, not ours. Tragically, the church has descended from that purpose and now focuses on humanity. Instead of emphasizing knowing and glorifying God, it focuses on man’s needs.
The church today is busy with committees and programs to “reach the lost.” Well-meant as all this may be, we are overlooking, ignorant of, or purposely avoiding the real issue. If we ever had a real revival, an upsurge of genuine New Testament Christianity, this would accomplish in all directions what we are trying so hard to handle one thing at a time. If the church today repented, gave up the world, confessed sin, submitted to the Lordship of Christ, became Spirit-filled, and returned to sola scriptura, the power of God would remove obstacles that all our schemes and programs cannot clear.
This is the age of the multitude. We seek bigger church buildings and larger crowds. Jesus did not trust Himself to crowds because He knew they were undependable. He intentionally thinned out the multitude by His preaching (John 6). When people flocked to Him, He gave them the three “cannots” of discipleship (Luke 14:25-33). He spent most of His time training the Twelve. He had but few disciples, but they were the Master’s Minority. At Pentecost there were only 120.
Our Lord’s philosophy is still our pattern but we gladly ignore it. We prefer our ineffective 32,000 to a dedicated 300 patterned after Christ and not after the world. We plan a church service and seek divine endorsement instead of exploring in advance what kind of meeting it ought to be. We draw up a design of what we want to do and show it to God for His approval. We do not first ask, “Lord, what is it You would have us to do?” We make a good show of seeking His favor but it is His stamp on our blueprints that we are really seeking. We publish our strategy and politely ask God to drop in and sign at the bottom.
God’s idea of the church is utterly different from ours. And it is high time we reported to His headquarters for His pattern. Religious activity is not synonymous with spirituality. The church at Ephesus proved that (Rev 2:1-7). One suspects that we are turning our attention to “seekers” partly to hide our embarrassment at not knowing what to do as church. It is a humiliating time when Christians should be red-faced with shame rather than strutting about with “success.”
The Bible is very clear about “seekers.” They don’t exist. Scripture says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Rom 3:10-12). “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way....” (Isaiah 53:5). Yet we plot the course and expect God to follow it. We prefer meeting “felt needs” to proclaiming the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We focus on man rather than on God. Our whole concept of church is market-driven and based on a materialistic mindset, as if we could manipulate the work of the Holy Spirit.
Friends, if we need a pattern for doing church, the one in Acts 2:42-47 is a good place to start:
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers. And fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
December 19, 2003
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.