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Is Your Church Seeker-Hostile?

If your service will be “believer-focused,” where the primary focus is on spiritual growth of believers, you will want to design your service to be in the top left corner of the quadrant.

There are more than a few services I have attended that fall in the bottom left portion of this scale. And, surprisingly, some misdirected services in the bottom right.

The “X” axis on this scale measures the content of the service. The “Y” axis measures the comfort of the visitor. For example, an emphasis on redemption is seeker-targeted. An emphasis on sanctification is believer-targeted. If the language is clear and understandable to an outsider, and the welcome is warm and hospitable, you are “Seeker-Friendly,” regardless of the content. If the service is filled with religious jargon and the newcomer is ignored or uncomfortable, you are “Seeker-Hostile.”

An important part of your service evaluation is the music. The words of the song identify the music’s location on the “X” axis (“Seeker-Targeted” or “Believer-Targeted”). The attractiveness of the music (rhythm, melody, tempo, etc.) to an unchurched visitor defines its place on the “Y” axis.

In general, the “Y” axis evaluates the medium. The “X” axis evaluates the message.

Why not ask some of your church leaders and worship planners to identify where they feel your service(s) is on the “X”/“Y” axes?

Then compare each other’s notes and use the results as a discussion starter as to whether this is where you want your services to be. And if they aren’t where you want, what can be done to move the service(s) in the right direction?

The goal, as Paul reminds us, is: “If some unbelieving outsiders walk in on a service where people are speaking out God’s truth, the plain words will bring them up against the truth and probe their hearts. Before you know it, they’re going to be on their faces before God, recognizing that God is among you” (I Cor. 14:25 MS).  

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charlesarn@churchleaders.com'
Charles Arn is Visiting Professor of Outreach at the new Wesley Seminary (Marion, IN). He has written twelve books in the field of congregational health and growth, including What Every Pastor Should Know (2013) and Side Door (2013).