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consistently show that there are four reasons why people don’t go to church: It’s boring, it’s irrelevant, the music is outdated, or they feel we’re only interested in money.”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.