Pastors' Forum


Seeker Sensitive Churches

I’ve been considering and exploring various styles of ministry lately. I have certain core values that compel me to hold to an emphasis that is strong in the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, but I’m also seeing many churches that could be termed “seeker sensitive” that are seemingly experiencing a lot of growth. Is it possible to integrate certain principles from other churches without compromising our core values? Are there pros and cons in this area?


Pastor Dave Williams – Lansing, MI
God has given us all different styles of ministry. There are different gifts, different administrations and so forth, according to 1 Corinthians 12. It is important to have core values that are based strongly on God’s Word and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

I realize there are churches that are termed “seeker sensitive” that are experiencing a lot of growth. The question becomes, “Is the growth also in growth and maturity?” I read a book recently called Differentiate or Die by Jack Trout. It was not a Christian book, but it told the importance of being different, no matter what it is.

Many of our churches have lost their differentiating factor. Spirit-filled churches become more like non Spirit-filled churches in order to attract more people. But, really, when a church loses its differentiating uniqueness, it usually begins to level off and then die.

We don’t compromise our core values, of course. They are many different methods of reaching people; however, God gives each of our churches a very specific methodology. Every time, over the past 30 years, when I’ve tried to “copy” other churches or duplicate what they were doing, I created an “Ishmael.” That’s why I said, “That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit, and that which is born of the flesh is flesh.” Let’s build our churches based on God’s ideas, rather than good ideas that are taken from others.

Pastor Mike Cameneti – Canton, Ohio
I believe you have to do what is in your heart. For example, we are as far from seeker friendly as you can get and we have seen tremendous growth throughout the years. I believe the key is doing what the Lord says you’re to do, and not copying someone else just to get growth. God does not mind us incorporating things as long as they are his will for our church! We have used some different things we have heard from seeker churches because we felt good about it. The key again is being led.

Pastor Reggie Scarborough – Lakeland, FL
First off, I think each of us in one way or the other has had to deal with the issue of change with reasoning—what to do about the future in regard to how far to go with other ideas and if we in fact should at all!

After surprising everyone several years ago by attending a conference at Willow Creek, I came home with a genuine appreciation for what they were doing and at the same time realizing I must search my own heart as to what I should or should not do with change.

I took this very idea to the Lord in prayer. As I searched my heart and spent time waiting on the Lord, I genuinely felt the Spirit of God spoke this to me: ‘It doesn’t have to be either/or. It can be both’. (For too long it seemed that everyone I’d seen go that direction at all were selling out who they were. I knew I could never do that. Although I certainly do take issue with some of the extremes of our movement, still I thank God I’m part of the faith camp). So the conclusion I came to and one that has worked in a wonderful way for us was to simply embrace change without compromise.

I realized some of the things, including some of the songs that were thought too wordy and wrong because of that were simply preferences. Being a musician myself had certainly caused me to be a little more open in that area and so in embracing some of the newer types of music, with lighting etc., I simply worked it around what we believe and are. Our core values have remained exactly the same. Our message has not changed. Our emphasis on the Holy Spirit has continued and actually has been enhanced with newer formats of music, lighting and freshness. I can give you my word that I wish I had moved in this direction sooner, rather than later. The moving of the Holy Spirit has honestly increased. Having more lighting meant that we had to darken our sanctuary lighting more, but what I saw happen was that more and more people felt free to lift their hands and worship without feeling ‘lite up’ so to speak.

Years ago when our church was just getting started. We had only been going four months. I came home one Sunday morning sensing that although it was good, something was wrong. You see we had sung only new ‘word choruses’ and nothing else. So as I prayed and sought the Lord I felt the Spirit quicken this to me: “Mix the old with the new.” I came back that Sunday night and started singing some songs like ‘power in the blood’ ‘when we all get to heaven’ etc. Immediately we seemed to rise higher as to the moving of the Spirit. Yet once these songs were included, I came to realize he hadn’t said ‘mix the new with the old’, but rather the ‘old with the new’. We need a fresh format. Yes, we must respect and honor our heritage, while embracing the new. God didn’t stop expanding the universe when our earth was created; nor has He stopped where we presently are. No God keeps on moving forward—shouldn’t we!

Should you start moving in this area with your church, I suggest first that you begin to explain to your church what’s in your heart. Give them comfort in knowing you will continue the emphasis of the word and the Spirit. That this is something you could never compromise. Then explain, that it isn’t all about us, but you are trying to reach more people and make the worship experience in your church enhanced. Bring the change in slowly and you’ll see your church will surprise you.

I remember years ago when I was having to make an announcement about purchasing a new building and not knowing how they would respond, I felt the Lord very clearly said this to me “Don’t you think I’m in them too?” Perhaps that could have been stated better, but not better to me. I understood what was being said. When I announced what we were planning, the place exploded. God always goes ahead of us when we have His and their best interest at heart.

I was in retail for years as I owned and operated piano and organ stores. The one thing I noticed was that if you continue changing things right along, it won’t seem strange when change comes. The worse thing a church can do in my honest opinion is resist change. When that is the case, often it’s nearly impossible when it is necessary. But little by little make changes until one day you are there. Then don’t stop where you have now arrived, but continue on as the Spirit leads.

Something Paul said in 1 Cor 14:20 comes to mind. “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.” Then to simply borrow verse 40 “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

Pastor Mike Webb – Lake Forest, CA
With our church located one mile from Saddleback, I am inundated with ideas from well-meaning individuals for how we can be more like them. My 22 years of seeing and hearing about their growth and success has given me ample opportunity to feel worthless in ministry.

On one hand, it makes it easier for me. Nowhere would it make less sense to be a copy of Saddleback than next door to them. But the temptation to reach out to those who want their style of church with a smaller crowd is real.

Without a doubt, they have discovered the secret to drawing a crowd of people. However, it occurred to me one day to examine seeker sensitive churches nationwide. What I discovered from the church data listed on their websites was that apart from the mega churches (Saddleback, Willow Creek, etc.), seeker sensitive churches on average are not any larger than the typical denominational, full gospel, or Rhema church. That led me to understand that the success of the seeker sensitive church depends more on the personality or style of the pastor rather than a certain method that works in every situation.

At the time I did my research, I came across the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. Although it is written from a business standpoint, it should be required reading for every pastor. It caused me to clarify specifically what God has enabled me to do and what our church does best. We began to emphasize that and build our vision upon it. Consequently, our church has grown larger since then, but more importantly, we have grown stronger.

I do however, seek to balance the times of our services. I want them to be long enough for people to be ministered to but short enough to respect people’s time. That is one thing that seeker sensitive churches do that we should incorporate, although for a different reason.

Pastor Joe Cameneti – Warren, Ohio
We are approaching our 25th anniversary as a church, and those 25 years have been loaded with changes. I loved some. I hated most. But I needed all of them! I’ll try to give you an honest account of our evolution as a church over the past two-and-a-half decades.

We started out as a very “pentecostal, charismatic” church. Each of our services consisted of an hour of Praise & Worship followed by an hour of teaching that would often slip into the 70 minute range. After praise and worship, I would usually wait on the Lord and give place to the Holy Spirit speaking through me or members of the congregation. This could easily take another ten minutes, and, looking back I realize that 95% of the time those that spoke in the Spirit were sharing God’s personal words to them with the entire congregation, carrying zero or even a negative impact. I often wonder how I gathered so many people using this technique!

Around our seventh year as a church, we hit a ceiling of about 400 members. We just couldn’t seem to grow past that amount. It was during that time of frustration in my life that an older minister came to speak at our church. We had an interesting conversation at lunch one day in between one of our meetings. He asked me a simple question that really challenged me. “How long do you preach, and how long is your praise and worship?” When I answered him, he found it quite funny! “No one is that good son! Cut your message and the praise and worship in half, and your church will double in size.” This wasn’t exactly easy to hear. It challenged everything that I had known “church” to be to that point. But, as I got alone to process the advice, I heard God speaking the same thing to my heart.

My fear was that shortening the service would be compromising the quality of ministry. But, I trusted his wisdom and God’s direction, and I made the change. Just as he had predicted, our church doubled in size over just one year’s time. That was about 8 years into our church history.

Over the years, I’ve learned the value of studying successful ministers and leaders within the Church, people like Bill Hybels and others who I deeply respect, even though they’re not from a Charismatic or Pentecostal background.” I make it a point to take the concepts and ideas that I think will work for us and bring them into our church as best as I can. Sometimes it’s those very leaders from other denominations that have the most relevant and challenging ideas. Looking back, I could never deny the value of my Charismatic background, but it’s those concepts from leaders outside of my circle that have also contributed to our church’s success.

We now have three weekend services, a 5:00 Saturday night and a 9:00 and 10:45 on Sunday morning. Each consists of passionate P&W lasting about 15 minutes, maybe 20 if inspiration hits (People really enter into God’s presence). It’s very relevant, guitar-driven music that draws in the younger crowd, keeping us from becoming a dying church. I teach for about 30 minutes, never longer. And sometimes I will go a few minutes shorter. I figure I always have next week to continue. If I can bring them to understand just one principle, leading them to implement it in their life, I’ve succeeded! My motto is “leave them wanting more, not wanting out.” I do expect our guest speakers to go 50 minutes on Sunday! This is because we only have them for a short time. On an average Sunday I don’t leave any time for waiting on the Lord in the weekend setting. Although, I do remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit and ready to obey Him as He leads me.

One of the things that has helped me in my efforts to never compromise the things of the Spirit has been making crucial adjustments in the structure of our church. Because we no longer offer time for the moving of the Spirit on weekends, we provide Wednesday night and small group experiences to meet that need for spiritually mature Christians. People that enjoy spending time in the Spirit are encouraged to attend a small group that has a Holy Sprit focus.  We have several that they can go to and prophesy, laugh, run, jump, pray in tongues and whatever else they feel led to do! Remember, I’m talking about a local church setting and not special meetings.

We’ve experienced great success doing things this way, and our people have become increasingly confident that they can bring their unsaved friends to a weekend service without “freaking them out.” I tell those that want longer worship to come out on Wednesday nights, where our worship goes longer. If they’re still dissatisfied, I tell them to put a CD in at home and worship God until they’re content! We also have four Wednesday Night services a year called “Power Praise Nights.” These are great for those seeking a strong move of God in a corporate setting. It’s been these small adjustments in our church structure that have allowed our older members to go deeper and visitors/new-comers to be comfortable throughout their process of growth.

I must admit, I’m no prophet. I could pray in tongues for an hour before service, and most of the time the only thing that happens is I teach better! When the Holy Spirit does want to move through me, however, I yield and release it in a very “unreligious” way. I then explain it to the people in simple terms that they can understand.

We’ve come to the conclusion that Sunday morning is the public service that we advertise to the non-Christian and Christian alike. Our goal is to take that Sunday morning crowd and direct them to opportunities that will help them develop a deeper spiritual walk. I teach a short weekend series once a year on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, ensuring that the casual, uninvolved attendee has at least one moment every year where they are challenged to take their walk with God to the next level. We average about 65 people who respond by being filled with the Holy Spirit during that series.

Here’s a neat testimony from a gentlemen about his initial experience at our church. This man has a large business and his wife is a Pediatrician.

They decided to visit us because they were feeling a need to get back into a church. They chose us because they saw our billboards. The husband said, “Let’s try the billboard church.” His wife was a little unsure, “I hear they’re charismatic. Are you sure you want to do this?” He devised a plan, “We’ll sit in the back, and if we see or hear anything weird, sianara!”

The first two times, nothing weird happened, and they loved the passionate worship and teaching! The third visit was a different story. One of our members was doing something weird just a few rows over. Normally, this would be enough to send a visitor running, but because they were able to hear my heart for two weeks, they decided to stick around!

Six month later, I taught on the baptism with the Holy Spirit. He responded and became Spirit filled! I later discovered that he was praying in tongues during his hour-long commute every day! He was so excited when he shared this information with me, God changed his life!

I don’t think it’s the dancing, running, jumping, shaking, laughing or any other “ing” that will change the people in your church. Is it okay to have them if the Spirit moves and at special meeting? Yes! I realize that sometimes God will move in those ways, but I’ve also come to realize that sometimes we force these things to happen, becoming as mechanical and religious as the churches we walked away from. A few times, I have literally been pressured to “enter in” at a special service or event. The next day, I feel like I did in the world when I woke up after being high or drunk the night before. “What did I do? Why did I do it? It didn’t change my life, I feel stupid!” This is just me being real with you! Now, instead of trying to force something to happen, I politely walk out of those services and go back to my hotel. Carnal me! I think God likes “real.” He loves “authenticity.” I don’t avoid all of those types of meetings. Nor do I condone it. They are the power source to our ministry as charismatics. But I do encourage you to be selective in your experiences, always entering in with a motivation to please God, not others.

The fact is this. We’re reaching more people than ever before! Our church is more fruitful then any time in our history, and people are climbing the spiritual ladder. We are the largest church in our county! And we are reaching the lost while maintaining a strong emphasis on the deeper things of the Spirit. Don’t be afraid to make some adjustments, big or small, that will take your church to the next level. They won’t always be comfortable, but they will always be worth it. Every pastoral gift is different and every church has a different calling. Follow what God lays on your heart to do.

Pastor Walker Schurz – Lusaka, Zambia (Africa)
It is possible? Absolutely yes. We feel like God as allowed us as a church to learn some great principles from these movements and still see people get physically healed, flow in the gifts of the spirit and preach high-octane, full-strength messages that set people free. From someone who comes from a Charismatic background for the past 24 years and has no plans of compromising the fullness of the Spirit, I think the “seeker sensitive” movement has been misunderstood and misapplied by many of us.

I believe a great concept that we can learn this group is that much of the world is living in a post-modern culture where the vast majority of the unsaved could care less about church. One speaker I recently heard gave a great talk on “What do the Lost Think About your Church?” The answer was correctly stated:  absolutely nothing—your church never comes across their radar. Part of the mandate of every church is to reach the lost and this responsibility must be in our prayers and planning.

One application we do at our church is that in our main Sunday morning service that attracts many, many outside people is to assume that people are new to church. For instance, they have no idea what you are talking about when you say “the anointing is strong.” Explain these terms. Something many of us who were in Kenneth E. Hagin’s meetings over the years saw him do was to explain the move of the Spirit of God with scriptural references. He assumed that not everyone knew what was going on and that it was new to many. I think we can follow this example in churches and be “ignorance sensitive.”

Another insight our church has picked up is that our mandate is not just to be a theological finishing school for existing Christians who like our emphasis of ministry and teaching. Jesus said he wants his house to be full and we need to reach those outside of the God’s house. We regularly tell our people to reach out and bring the “un-churched.” In our city, 1.3 million people do not go to church because they do not know God and will spend eternity in hell if we don’t reach them. They are the pool of future customers we are told to reach.

I could go on and on about the great insights that God has given some of these great men of God on how to build strong, healthy local churches. I think one thing we must always do is look for the Biblical truth and principles regardless of where they come from and yet stay to the uniqueness and calling God has given us. May your church be the hope of the world that God has designed for it to be.

Pastor Stan Saunders – Chillicothe, MO
My pastor served in the church I grew up in for almost 30 years. He told me once that a church needs a new pastor about every 5 years. So, I would need to keep changing, if I were to serve my church for decades as he did. I think we need to constantly, but slowly change our churches. We seriously consider changes we need to make constantly. As a result, our church is quite different today than 5, 10, 20 years ago.

We started considering this very question over 5 years ago, as a staff. We started evaluating everything we did. What was essential and non-essential? What was cultural to our church, but might be restricting others from coming? Could we present the message in non-threatening ways to those who were not already indoctrinated into the “charismatic culture?”

While we don’t use the term “seeker sensitive,” because of its negative connotations, we do consider how the un-churched and un-saved view us and our meetings. Now, we think about three different kinds of people who might be in attendance in our meeting. We always have seasoned saints, new believers and un-saved individuals in every service. So, we think about the music, illustrations, and language we use in our meetings. We have shortened the length of our music and messages. We have not stopped teaching any subject. Yet, we do consider greatly how to present every subject. When we teach on the Holy Spirit, for example, we do so comprehensively for several weeks in a Sunday school class, or another small group setting. We try not to overemphasize any aspect of following Jesus more than the New Testament emphasizes that subject. As a result, we are reaching many people in our community, who would not have considered us 5 years ago.

Every three to five years we thoroughly consider how we are reaching out to those in their 20s. This is challenging as we ourselves are getting older. We sacrifice our personal preferences to reach new people. We believe that our new growth mostly comes from this younger demographic. People 35 and older are more established in their ways. We focus mainly on what we are doing for children and youth. Young families are drawn to us. Our average Sunday morning attendance is about 300. Yet, we reach an additional 100 plus young people on Wednesday night. It is not uncommon for our Wednesday night attendance to exceed our Sunday morning service, because of the dozens of young people who come on Wednesday only.

Pastor John White – Decatur, AL
I remember Dr. Lester Sumrall speaking to us while going to Rhema in 1982. He said that his sons were home busy working in the ministry for him and that he didn’t have to tell them every little detail of what they were to do each day. If something needed correcting he would get involved. He said God was the same way. Dad Hagin also said that we can go on what the Holy Spirit doesn’t say to us as much as we can by what he does say to us. If we are doing something he doesn’t want, he’ll tell us.

I too believe that as long as you are pursuing God’s best interest and it does not violate the Word, God gives us the freedom to make choices in our ministries. My personality and demeanor helps shape the way I do things. I can’t be like someone else. I can’t follow someone else’s vision. I have to find what works for me and my congregation in my city and implement those things. If it works I’ll use it, if it is displeasing to God he will tell me.

I still believe that signs, wonders, and miracles are God’s number one way to grow a church according to the book of Acts. Paul said in I Corinthians 2:4 “my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power.” I don’t want to build a church and my labor be in vain. I think we can do that, build a church on our know-how and our ability and certain marketing principles, and it all be in vain. Unless God builds the house they that labor, labor in vain. We never can eliminate the freedom of the Spirit to move in our services and remain faithful to the integrity of God’s word.

However, the seeker sensitive doctrine has gotten me to examine the way I do things. We can scare people away by our traditions. We have got to make sure that our traditions are God ordained and not man made. I remember as a Baptist visiting a “Spirit filled church” and it scared the daylight out of me. Was what I saw God, or was most of it tradition?

I believe most of it was their tradition. One thing that I have changed is the way I give altar calls. I do not call people forward anymore for salvation. I have the people bow their heads close their eyes and raise their hand for prayer. I lead the entire congregation in a prayer and give instructions for the prayer room and water baptism. Since I started this practice someone gets saved in almost every service.

Whatever we do it must point people to Jesus and change their lives. If people come to church and their lives are not being changed and they are not following God, what good have we done? Seeker sensitive churches have some good things that we can use but like Brother Hagin always told us “eat the hay and leave the sticks” and “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Pastor Mark Boer – Boise, ID
Because of the fact that some have, in my opinion, compromised vital aspects of the Gospel, I have somewhat of an initial negative feeling toward the whole seeker sensitive concept. At the same time, I am regularly pursuing ways to make “seekers” feel welcome, accepted and loved.

One thing that helped me in this area years ago is a greater understanding and more balanced approach to the use of speaking in tongues in a service. There was a time when I would not hesitate to have the whole church speak in tongues at any given moment. I would also frequently pray over people that way in ministry lines—with the microphone on. I came to believe, through the response of some people and the study of 1 Corinthians chapter 14, that many were not being edified through this. We had both unbelievers and unlearned people present—the very ones we wanted to reach that were being “blown out of the water” by our methods that sometimes lacked explanation.

Although I do believe that there can be services that this type of flow is totally appropriate, it isn’t always a Sunday morning when there is such a diverse group of people.

Now, having said that, we do put a strong emphasis on the power of God, the gifts of the Spirit, and allowing God to move—in all of our services. We do have manifestations of prophecy, tongues and interpretation, word of knowledge, etc. in Sunday morning services. But, to the best of our ability, we do exercise these gifts with the knowledge that many people have never been around such things. We avoid weird charismatic antics so that people can see that normal and powerful go hand in hand. When it is necessary we give a brief explanation of what took place and make ourselves available to answer questions.

I really believe that a true emphasis on the Word of God and the Holy Spirit—done with a motive of love for the people and not to prove something or show off in any way—is being sensitive to the seeker. When we try to turn every service into a “believer’s meeting” we may be missing an opportunity to reach people where they are. Although any person could be turned off because they don’t like a particular method or move, we should make sure that they are not being offended because of the way that we presented it.

Pastor Paul Foslien – Naples, FL
People today do not care if you are a Christian, what they care about is the kind of Christian you are going to be. The world does not care if you read your Bible and go to church once a week. What the world does care about is if you are going to be a SOLD-OUT Christian that will LIVE AND WALK like Jesus! It looks like churches are going the same way. Churches are changing the things they do in an effort to make them “seeker sensitive,” conforming their churches to what they think the world will find acceptable.

Churches are becoming more entertainment-based and NON-CONFRONTATIONAL instead of preaching the whole gospel, which brings confrontation/change into our lives. It’s easy to fill pews if you pander to people’s comfort instead of challenging them to be all God created to be. If we are not careful, we will usher in an end-time church that thinks they have it all together, when in reality, they are lukewarm!

Pastor Jeff Walker – Palm Springs, CA
1.   Know your calling  

2.   Articulate your ministry philosophy.

3.   Have a sane assessment of your gifts and abilities.

4.   Search the scriptures.

5.  Love people.

6.   Read widely.

7.   Research teachably.

8.   Adapt, don’t adopt new ideas.

9.   Celebrate your uniqueness.

10. Get good counsel from others who are “doing it.”

Pastor Anthony Storino – Toms River, NJ
I would have to say a resounding yes. I’ve determined to study the success of these “seeker churches.” What I’ve found is this. The people who go to these churches are excited, they love the Lord and they are involved. What makes them excited is the involvement and I believe the fellowship. I’m not saying we have to compromise what we preach and teach. But I do think there is away to present the uncompromised Word of God in a way that would be relevant to today’s society. And I believe every church needs to seek God and see how He would have them do it, not to try to duplicate what everyone else is doing.

I live on the east coast, jeans and sandals probably would not make it on Sunday morning. In Florida and California, yes. But there are definite areas we could change and loosen up in without the compromise. I’m not saying jeans and sandals are a compromise. Our music has started dressing down on Sunday mornings. My ushers wear jackets and ties, but in the summer months they go opened neck. I wear a jacket and tie on Sunday morning, but occasionally I’ll come in with a jacket, open collar, and dress pants or dress jeans. The important thing is we can’t alienate people from coming. We need to make them feel welcome, yet minister a message that is relevant and life changing. We need to bring them to a point of change in their lives and if jacket and ties are going hinder that then the jacket and tie should go.

I for one don’t want to stand in front of Jesus one day and hear Him say, “Pretty good job my good and faithful servant, but you should have lost the tie.”

One thing I’ve noticed is that people coming from “seeker churches” need to be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. For example, I have had many people come to our church from “seeker churches” and they all say the same thing: “I’ve learned more here in 3 months that I did in 2 years where I was.” So if we could blend the excitement of the “seeker churches” with the word of faith we are on our way to having some outstanding churches reaching the world for Jesus.

Pastor Jim Overbaugh – Missoula, MT
This is an area that every pastor I know is dealing with. Every one wants to grow and reach more people. It has been the biggest challenge to my ministry for the past 13 years.

I believe that we have a strong and important message for the generation that exists today. We also have the move of the Spirit that is not compromised. The challenge then is how to become more relatable to our culture. I think that it is okay to repackage our product so that the American church can receive the truth of the Word. We are trying to use more innovative media as well as live skits and of course contemporary music and design.

The cons to me are that it seems so unfortunate that our American churches have to almost entertain the people in order to attract them into our midst long enough to get the Word of God in them. We have attracted the people at Easter for years with drawings for free bicycles and gifts. They come by the hundreds, get saved by the dozens, and stay away till the next “big” event. But they still call our church their church. We have followed up on them, and done everything but pay their mortgages.

Is it possible that we need a great outpouring of the power of God? Should we focus more on His glory? I’m still seeking to know myself. Even though we have seen great things I am concerned about missing the mark if we go too far in trying to make church more like a place of entertainment than a place of God’s power at work.

I believe that as we continue to seek the Lord and follow His Spirit He will show us what we all are to do…

Pastor Rob Wynne – Linden, AL
Read Learning to Flow with the Spirit of God by Kenneth E. Hagin. Dad Hagin said not to lose the move of the Holy Ghost.

As men and women of the Word, we should base our ministry on what Jesus and the ministers of the Book of Acts said and did. Nowhere in the Book of Acts or anywhere else in the Bible does it say that we should not lean on the ministry of the Spirit [the true seeker friendly One]. These scriptures set a standard for our ministry. [Acts 1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus [Beloved of God], of all that Jesus began both to do and teach…; Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”; Eph 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

We should take the best of what others have [not violating the above mentioned values] to offer and implement into our churches for maximum success. Be positive. I have personally integrated: giving out a copy of the current sermon to anyone in attendance and I’m in the process of installing cell groups just to mention a couple of items.

Pastor Matt Beemer – Manchester, England
I believe that many of the churches like mine, known by many as a Word of Faith church, have become stuck in the 90’s—the time when the Word churches were growing the fastest. Though the Word is still just as powerful as ever, they are turning off this new generation before they get a chance to even hear them. The content is great, the wrapping needs to change.

At the same time, I’ve seen others who do not have strong content, or the power to truly help people, but they do know how to connect with this generation. These churches are many times reaching thousands people while the ‘Word’ church down the street has a couple hundred or less!

We do not have to choose one, or the other. There are churches that are doing a good job of doing both. We do our best to unashamedly emphasize the Word and allow for the move of the Holy Spirit in our church, but our wrapping is much easier for this new generation to receive from.

Jesus radically ministered in power, and in the Word, but He was also very good at connecting with people—all different kinds of people.

If you are not connecting with people, then you must change ‘HOW’ you are doing it (the wrapping). If you are connecting with people, but have nothing to give them, you are no help either. So let’s learn to connect with everyone we can, AND be radically sold out for Word confirmed by the power of the Spirit!

In the end, connecting with people is not as much what kind of clothes you wear, music you play, or lighting you have, as it is loving them. I’ve seen old ‘fuddy-duddy’ granddad like ministers hold the attention of a group of teenagers. How? Because they connected with them. The teenagers could see their passion and most importantly, their love.

Pastor John Brady – McAllen,TX
I believe you can incorporate “seeker sensitive” aspects into your service without compromising your core values. Brother Hagin always taught us to have a purpose for each service. I realize Sunday morning I am going to have more unsaved people than any other service. In our area many catholics are stepping out and trying non denominational churches. We put together a service with that in mind. It is culturally relevant and energetic. We use lights, video & props. Our subject matter is very relevant to their everyday lives. Yet, we teach the word, worship God with fervor, and have altar calls. We are seeing many of the people receive Christ every Sunday. The word will reach the unsaved and yet teach the believer. When believers see the new births, it breeds excitement & a wonderful opportunity for ministry.

Wednesday night is our discipleship night. We will also have seasons of just worship and allowing people to practice flowing in the gifts. Bottom line for us, is God has directed us to have a strong purpose for each of our services. It is helping us grow in every area.

Pastor Judi Tillett – Waynesville, MO
So many methods and so little time! My belief is that methods are the pathway of the message. If it works, do it… but if the meat of the message is ‘melted’ to liquid because the method is mightier than the plan of the Spirit, refocus. I do structure our Sunday morning service with the lost in mind as well as the spiritually uninitiated, and am still seeking the perfect balance. And that is our goal … to achieve Bible balance… to not compromise … to introduce people to the anointing… and yet, avoid “in your face, pentecostalism.”

A pastor who seems to have mastered the art of balance and spiritual involvement is Jack Hayford. I would encourage a ‘view’ of the Church on the Way method and make any adjustments that also fit the personality of your own church. Four basic balance reminders to keep me in the Word are:

Word is anointed … the method is beneficial
Only announce, adjust, alter or change for a season … “interesting season” is healthier for a congregation than “We really missed/messed it”…
Remember to adjust the method to the present size of your congregation, not where you desire to be… (i.e. don’t draw water for an elephant to wash a puppy)
Do listen to the senior members of the congregation so they do not get downsized in the desire to produce ‘babies’

Pastor Eddie Trayers – Springfield, VA
Is it possible to integrate certain principles from other churches without compromising our core values? We all can use many of the attributes that have kept other denominations alive for decades; there are also what seem to be new principles, that are simply in my view new phenomenons of our culture changing, we need to have the freedom to embrace all that is changing in music style while keeping the original older songs in our services, technology including sound elements, lighting enhancements, computer projections, media DVD backgrounds TV production, architecture, stage components, message themed props and backdrops, and sensitivity to the changing demographics of our communities but our core message can not be influenced by any of these factors nor can our foundation be uprooted and changed our past is what got us here. Growth is not the end-all of the ministry, solid steady, growth with fruit that remains it is a by product of being an influence, not being influenced by the new phenomenons of our culture changing.

Are there pros and cons in this area? Absolutely, the pros are you don’t need to be stale to be holy and full of the word and the spirit this would also include reaching the next generation having young people in your ministry breathes life into your church and keeps you young in your thinking as we age we must be challenged to grow with the times. The cons are the trap of I have to do what others are doing to attract a crowd while selling out your ministry to the next fad, keeping it real is very important this simply means staying where God has you and not leaving the place of the anointing for a quick sell out to growth.

Pastor Rich Huston – Arvada, CO
We have never seen times where “church” is done so many different ways and pastors can get easily confused in the middle of it all. Core issues should never be compromised but every pastor and church is different and distinct as are the communities they are called to. We can all learn from what other churches are doing but when we try to copy it is where we make a mistake. Pastors err in trying to follow what is working for other churches rather than becoming crystal clear on what God has called their church to be. Style changes are one thing but watering things down are another, each pastor had better be clear on the course they need to take and get busy with what makes their church unique.

Pastor Rick Sharkey – Spokane, WA
In our city there are a few seeker sensitive churches. They have growth and visibility. In my pursuit of success and pleasing the Lord I’ve come up with my direction. For me to obey God, I must build a church family that grows people, not crowds. I honestly gave effort to attracting a large group of people and giving them what they wanted to have. But the expense was I was dishonest to my God assignment and people didn’t seem to be challenged. They remained the same, entry level Christians—ill-equipped and tossed to and fro. I, as well felt I was disingenuous with myself and lost self respect. I need to be confident with God and with myself.

Pastor Mike Kalstrup – Oakland, IA
Perhaps one of the mistakes word of faith churches make in this area is they forget what Brother Hagin told us repeatedly about having different types of services. I think ministers have to ask the question regarding each service they’re having, “What is the purpose of this service?” and then see to it that it’s driven in that direction. Having said that, you also have to ask yourself the question: “Who are we as a church or ministry?” In other words, what defines you? Why does your church exist? If you’re from a word of faith, charismatic heritage, then trying to be something else is going to be less than fulfilling.

Pastor Bob Yandian – Tulsa, OK
Seeker sensitive churches have recently changed their perception by calling themselves “growth churches.” They are desiring to be the largest churches in the area so they will be ignored and overlooked no more. There are things they are doing to attract young people that I believe could be integrated into our present churches. To put it into perspective, some things change and some things do not change. The wisdom comes in knowing which is which. Methods can and should change through the years. Technology can be used in the church as can new styles of music. Updating the looks of the church auditorium is a must. Many churches still look like they did when they were built in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. A consultant would be good to pull in on these items. Since the days when Jesus walked the earth, the local church has undergone changes in music, musical instruments, amplification, chairs, overhead projectors and modern day screens and computers. The list could go on. Every time there is a change, there is an outcry from the older members resistant to change. But this kind of change is necessary for growth and appeal to a new generation.

Yet, there are things which should never change. The teaching of the word of God should be the most important priority in each service. Our foundational doctrines should never change. People’s needs never change. No matter who comes or goes, we must remain strong to teach “all the counsel of God” and remember “all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…that the man of God might be mature.” Growth and maturity are both missing in many of the growth churches. It is the missing part of the great commission. We are not just to get people saved, but make disciples out of all nations. This means we must keep rightly dividing God’s word to His people.

Pastor Jim Herring – Ft. Worth, TX
Our goal is to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In my opinion, it is not only possible, but also wise, to incorporate the positive elements of the seeker sensitive movement in order to reach more people with the uncompromised Word of God. As long as you maintain your core values, then innovative methods will only enlarge our sphere influence. Jesus is a great example. He utilized conventional and unconventional methods of reaching the masses and teaching His disciples. You could find Him ministering in the synagogue, on the mountain top, by the sea, and in a boat. I am sure there were religious leaders that didn’t approve of His methods of ministry. They probably thought He was too radical, too innovative, too unconventional…yet he proved to be effective.

Pastor Dennis Cummins, Puyallup, WA
This question seems to be describing the journey our church has been going through over the last three years. I believe that this question is a great one and will continue to be debated for years to come, but I can share my personal experience with you. We are a church that also has strong values regarding the word and the Holy Spirit and had a hunger to reach out to more who don’t know Jesus. I personally believe in being seeker friendly but not seeker sensitive. This may be semantics to some, but we realize that there is a difference. This is how we view the difference:

A seeker friendly church has thought about their processes from an outside to inside prospective with fresh eyes. Some churches only view their church through eyes that already know everyone and know the layout of the church. Our top three are childrens, greeters, and communication.

1. Children:  Do the parents know where to take their child? Is there a professional but warm and friendly feel, or is it folksy and hodgepodge? What questions are going through the minds of a young couple that is considering leaving their child with strangers and in a strange place? Is this a safe place? What if my child needs me? How will they contact me? Will someone come and get me in the service, and then I will feel singled out and embarrassed? Is it clean and sanitary? Are the workers trained? Do they change diapers? Will there always be two people with my child? Is there a screening process for all the workers caring for my child? I believe that a lot of the seeker sensitive churches have done a great job in setting new standards in these areas. I believe that our children’s ministries should have equal standards to that of Disney concerning the forethought and level of professionalism and presentation. So I would tour and go through some of these churches that have check in systems and other processes that seem to draw the masses, because these processes work. We found if we can do it right for their children, then mom and dad can put up with a church that has aspects that they really don’t care for like styles of preaching and worship. We made this a priority in our church 4 years ago and it paid off.

2. Greeters: How do we greet people? Let’s face it: our greeters are our first impression. At our church we used to greet those who walk through our door (even strangers) as though they are Christians, with hugs and a lot of “church slang.” After realizing how this really turned seekers off, we make a few changes. First, it meant for us that we had to get different greeters. This was a big step, but the ones we had would adapt. After finding different greeters we decided to be friendly and kind to those who walk through our doors. We found that a seeker is a bit timid and reserved, they do need direction on what to do if they had kids, but they can easily feel smothered by greeters or ushers, and this could make the church seem needy. They typically need their space, yet not too much. It is a delicate balance.

3. Communication: How did we communicate with people? Not very well. We had no signage to help new people find where they were, where the bathrooms are, how to find the classrooms for their children and what we said from the platform. Subconsciously, we were really telling new people that they were outsiders and they didn’t belong here. So we changed how we communicated. We made sure everything was clearly marked with professional looking signage (no handwritten signs). We also changed the way we communicated from the pulpit. Before when new people would come to our church, I would have different staff members participate in the service, but if you were a new person, you would have no idea who they were, so then they immediately lacked credibility. Now when a staff member comes up, we put up a title slate to let new people know who they are and what their title is. Now a new person isn’t left in the dark wondering who this stranger with the microphone is. I also changed the way I preach. I don’t refrain from using theological terms, but if I do, I always clarify what they mean. I don’t name drop from the bible anymore either. I used to refer to Gideon or David and relate it to a point—meanwhile the new person doesn’t know if I am talking about a person in the church or a relative of mine, and once again they are left in the dark, feeling like an outsider. Now if I mention people from the Bible, I am sure to give context of who they were and whether they were in the Old Testament or New Testament. A person may think these changes are ridiculous for our regular attendees, but they will understand if they have a heart for new people.

A seeker sensitive church looks at not only their processes but their doctrine as well. They make changes to their doctrine or the pastor simply omits the teaching of certain fundamental doctrines to make their message more palatable for sinners who are seeking. This type of church looks only to teach on rational experiences in the Bible, time management, and family relationships, and they refrain from preaching about the Holy Spirit, tongues, signs and wonders, and against sin, about hell, and the second coming. In an article that I recently read, a pastor from a large seeker-sensitive church said that yes, they were high on reaching people but were lacking in the discipleship aspect. I can’t forget that the word of God offends the flesh and is not popular in this day and age. As it says in 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” I believe we are living in this scripture today, so I have determined to preach the whole council of God, regardless of its lack of popularity or its counter-culture views. My father-in-law has been a pastor for over 50 years, and he shared with me that “what I bring them in on is what I have to keep them on.”