Read Roberts & Yamane Chapter 8.

1) Write a 1-2 page summary

2) Respond to the following:

New paradigm and seeker-sensitive churches are being very self-conscious about their marketing strategies to draw members. Yet Max Weber insists that people have always been more likely to join churches where there is "elective affinity" to their social, cultural, or economic circumstances. Is the new paradigm church any different? Does it make a difference whether the leaders "happen" to draw people with similar cultural values or interests as opposed to those who target an audience and modify the message to have greater appeal? Why?

3) Respond to the following:

a) Elective affinity is the tendency for members of certain social, and economic groups to be drawn to certain religious beliefs.[1] I do not think that the new church is any different because it is drawing people that come into social, cultural or economic circumstances. The people that the new paradigm attracts are those people from white- collar America according to this Robert and Yamae article. Karl Marx believed that economic self-interest is driving forces of social behavior.[2] He was convinced that the economic self- interests of the rich- those who own the industries and corporations caused them to develop a religious view that justified their wealth and alleviated any sense of guilt.[3] I do not think that it makes a difference whether the leaders draw people with similar cultural values or interest as opposed to those who target an audience, because the main question that is contextualized is about the person soul being satisfied.

b) The new paradigm church’s mission is different because they are not out to distort the true message from God but defining different and more modern ways of presenting the message. If this is what draws people to the church and to God, to God be the Glory.

Even though the new paradigm and seeker-sensitive churches objective is to target certain age groups, it may be what is needed in all congregations and outreach ministries to reach the masses. We all need to know our audience and where they stand spiritually. Miller stated, “… if the message is going to communicate with an intended audience, it must be culturally, appropriate” (Roberts, Yamane, pp 211). It appears that the new paradigm and seeker-sensitive churches are doing their research in targeting their audience.   

While on the other hand, market-sensitive churches appeal to people who can be beneficially to the ministry through their education background and their monetary donations. We must be extremely cautious, if not totally to avoid, marketing religion. It can be more harmful to the church than beneficial to souls. I agree with Frankl, she stated, “the content of religious programming in a market-driven religious enterprise often becomes transformed; it is based no longer on the message of the founder but on rationally calculated economic needs of the “business” to prosper” (Roberts, Yamane, pp 213). With that being said, where does get the Glory out of such a church? If a churches goal is to seek for members who will benefit the church rather than seeking ways for the church to draw members, where does the grace of God come in for individuals who do not meet the market-sensitive churches’ standard? Does the preaching of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection on behalf of all mankind become in vain?

c) Max Weber personally has a different approach how people join churches. His view would be that people join religions because they feel a sense of belonging there. Churchgoers are viewed as consumers; and seen as entrepreneurial establishments. He was concerned with how people make sense of things and construct their worlds. Joining church is characterized by certain ideas or belief systems and interests or needs.

The new paradigm church is different. Seeker churches tailor its program and services to attract people who are not just church attenders. They believe in doing church in a different way. The seeker church strategy is less concerned about biblical substance and more concerned about a culture of self. Teaching such as sin, hell and repentance is rarely mentioned. The mindset is to lure the unchurched with great entertainment, and to present a social gospel message. New paradigm churches are identified by a philosophy of ministry designed to effect numerical growth and more attention is paid to market strategy, business techniques and demographics than to New Testament instruction.

In my learning from Organized religion Denominationalism and Congregationalism, I learned that the seeker sensitive churches caters to the needs of the congregation through entertainment, social opportunities, movie nights, marriage renewal weekends, family camping retreats, basketball and softball leagues, and so on.   

I personally believe it does make a difference when leaders try to draw people to target an audience and modify the Gospel message in order to have a greater appeal. There is a market-driven approach and a Biblical approach.   It is nothing wrong with excellence in church programming, being kind to visitors, providing ample parking and using new methods to reach people, but never leave out the Spirit of God and the fundamental principles of God.   We need to go back to the basics. I mean plain old salvation, plain old repentance, plain old prayer meetings and plain old righteous living. If the Spirit of God cannot draw people and we have to entice them like selling a product we need to take our Christianity and salvation and throw it in the garbage can. If you want to market, let us market Christ, the Gospel, repentance and promote holiness.

Jesus was not seeker sensitive. John 6:66-69 say "from that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more." If they walked away from Christ, the people will walk away from you. Jesus turned to the twelve and said, "do you also want to go way?" Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!"

In summary we are not to mix business concepts in our evangelistic efforts; and allow demographics to become an advertising techniques. If the church uses business methods instead of prayer, how can the Holy Spirit draw people to Christ. We must rely and depend upon God rather than some marketing method. Let us not be found guilty in rejecting God's way of doing things.

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Roberts, Yamane Chapter 8

This week’s reading deals with the so called “new paradigm churches” and their methods to grow, spread, and attract following. “New paradigm” or “seeker sensitive” churches refer to the new generation of mostly urban churches with predominantly white-collar, college-educated membership. These churches are characterized with an informal worship style, little emphasis on dogma, informal dress code, tolerance of personal differences, and emotionalism (Roberts, Yamane 210).

The authors suggest that the growth of new paradigm churches may signify a tectonic shift in the American attitudes toward religion. Some researchers even called it “a new Reformation” (Roberts, Yamane 210). This kind of religiosity is different from the reformation movements of the past in that “previous renewal groups have rejected the dominant culture and presented an image of world rejection,” the new churches adopt the dominant culture and its values (Roberts, Yamane 210). In this context the standard American suburban, consumerist and corporate culture is what the new paradigm churches absorb....

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