The Vanishing Seekers

1

Istock _000010330407xsmallMuch of the contemporary
church has fashioned itself to be “seeker sensitive.” But what if
the seekers are no longer seeking?

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Seeker-friendly churches have been shaped with good intentions.
Making church ministry more accessible to the unchurched is an
admirable objective.

The reigning assumption: large masses of unchurched men and
women are actively looking for-seeking-a religious opportunity,
organization or event. Then, the thinking goes, we just need to
create a worship service that incorporates characteristics of other
professional spectator events that these unchurched folks find
elsewhere. And if we do a professional job on stage, the seekers
will find what they’re seeking. At least that’s the hope.

Increasingly, however, the seekers don’t really fit this
profile. It’s fair to say church visitors are seeking. But these
visitors are typically upset refugees from other churches who are
seeking a more perfect church. It’s musical chairs.

A new Pew Research Center study depicts the growing reality of
the vanishing seeker. Most Americans do not regularly attend
church. And the fastest growing sector is the “nones”-those who say
they have no religious affiliation at all. This segment grew from
15 percent to 20 percent in just the last five years. Among those
aged 18-29, the unaffiliated encompasses 32 percent of the
population.

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And get this. Among the “nones,” 88 percent say they are not
looking for a religion that would be right for them. They are not
seekers.

At Lifetree
Cafe
 and Group
Publishing
, we spotted this trend some time ago. We decided to
drop the term “seekers.” But we noted that 90 percent of the
population still acknowledges a belief in God. So, we now refer to
the majority as “spiritually open.” They may not be seeking a
religious experience, but they’re open to connecting with God.

What does all this mean for the present and future church? A few
implications:

  1. Look for ways to go to the people on their turf and their
    schedule, rather than expect the people to seek out a typical
    religious service that runs on a churchy schedule.
  2. Learn what people are actually seeking, and find ways to meet
    those human needs. Then form authentic relationships and earn the
    right to share your faith.
  3. Move from passive spectator services to settings that allow the
    “spiritually open” to participate, ask questions, and share their
    thoughts.

When it comes to Sunday morning churchgoing, the majority is
playing hide and seek. Without the seek.

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About Author

Thom Schultz

Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.

1 Comment

  1. Now that's a big number worth paying attention too! "Among the "nones," 88 percent say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. They are not seekers."

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