Thirty years ago, Bill Hybel pioneered the “Seeker Sensitive” movement and became the poster child for evangelicals. Casual, connecting, creativity, kicking music, themed Sunday school, anonymity and low expectations were in.
Recently, Hybel’s “Reveal Study” highlighted surprising trends. A large part of his church failed to become disciples once they were introduced to Christ. Even more troubling, the 20% that matured into disciples had become disconnected and dissatisfied with the church.
Other studies suggest claiming to be a Christian, but not acting Christ- like, hadn’t gone unnoticed. Throw in an increasingly diverse faith culture and the response has been a growing cynicism. To grow a church today, we must learn to connect with cynics who now make up 50-60% of our communities.
Cynics aren’t all that influenced by cool music, charismatic speakers or fancy buildings. They’re not all that interested in how attractive your Sunday worship is. They’re interested in whether you’re willing to send people to heal their community.
Recently, a young cynic told me he left his church of over 30 years because they had embarked on a multi-million dollar building program. He could accept a fancy new building if the building was a resource for a far bigger vision outside the church, but it wasn’t. Ten other families left with him.
“Cynical Sensitive” ministries focus on equipping and sending people to the doubt and pain in the community. And, cynical sensitive facilities must scream mission, a mission far more important than the building. That is why equipping and sending resources must be front and center.
And, the facility may need to feel more like FedEx Kinko’s than Starbucks.