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October 25, 2004
Every week Rick Warren sends out his Ministry Toolbox and it seems he always gives me something to think about. As the man at the leading edge of evangelicalism these days I always pay attention to what he says, for I know it will be only a matter of weeks before many churches follow his lead.
This week he addresses the topic of seeker services, saying that when he started Saddleback he immediately “decided to specialize our services, having one targeted for the purpose of growing Christians and planning another one specifically for reaching our non-believing friends. We call our evangelistic-targeted service a ‘seeker-sensitive service.’” The seeker services are designed to appeal to make sense to people with no religious background and are to be a safe place for believers to bring their seeking friends. Warren provides a few pointers about seeker services, saying that they do not have to compromise the message or be shallow in nature. But what really caught my eye was his assertion that a “common criticism against evangelistic seeker services is that they cater to consumers.” Now obviously this is true - many people complain that these services cater to the unbeliever, so that they services are eventually driven by non-Christians. What I found shocking was Warren’s next statement that “But the truth is that every style of worship service caters to someone.”
I absolutely agree with this, provided the “s” in “someone” is capitalized. Last I checked, our worship was to cater to God, not to people. We are to direct our worship to please the Creator, not the creature. It is true that there are many different ways of worshipping God. I am not going to take a stand on whether an organ or a guitar is a more holy way of worshipping God. I do know, though, that regardless of how we worship, the object of our worship is God and in worship we cater to His desires. However He tells us to worship Him is how we are to do it - obediently and unhesitatingly. I hope that anyone who worships God with a huge choir and modern instrumentation does so from the conviction that this is the best way to cater to God’s desire to be worshipped and not from a desire to cater to the congregation. The same holds true for the church that uses no instrumentation and has only a precentor at the front leading in the singing of the Psalms. I hope that our worship is built around our beliefs concerning God’s desires, not man’s desires.
But I digress. I have no use for seeker services. When we seek God as the Seeker our attitude towards seeker services must change. Every service is a Seeker service, designed to honor the One who seeks true worshippers - those whose worship is firmly rooted in the Word.