By LOU TISCIONE
Much of the Western Christian Church has embraced the idea that men and women are seeking after God. A movement that primarily began in the ‘80s called the “Church Growth Movement” had its origin in this assumption.
At least one large congregation on the West Coast of America was started by knocking on doors in the targeted neighborhood and asking, “What would it take for you to go to church?” After compiling the results, a “church” was formed to meet those expressed needs. Churches using this philosophy have grown by the thousands. Since those early days, many church leaders have improved upon the “seeker” philosophy. Books have been written that outline methods for growing a large church. In one way or another, the methods condense down to meeting “felt needs” of the people. By definition, “felt needs” are those things people feel that they need to find satisfaction in life.
Since there are as many “felt needs” as there are individuals, unique programs are needed. Church growth experts urge pastors to develop ministry programs to satisfy the needs of people segregated into groups based on common life situations. For example, they instruct leaders of churches to have a ministry to single mothers, to teens, to divorced people, to older singles, to older couples; the lists go on and on.
There is a common thread in churches developed to meet “felt needs.” They design entertaining worship experiences. Skits or pageants replace preaching. Prayers are limited to one said by the pastor. The only Scripture read during worship may be the verses or even verse from which the pastor speaks. The worship service is designed for unbelievers with the intention of evangelism. Praise bands entertain these congregations.
The motivation may be well-intended. Those who promote the “felt needs” philosophy of church growth sincerely believe that men and women can be convinced to give their lives to Jesus. They sincerely believe there are people seeking a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.