I want to start this post off by saying that I LOVE the church. The whole church. Every denomination and every person on the planet that truly believes that they are saved by Grace and not by their own works through faith in Jesus Christ. I love seeing the church express itself in numerous forms. Theology, music, acting, design, art…you name it, the church has probably done something dealing with it. So please remember this first paragraph when you read what i’m about to write.
The church isn’t reaching everyone it should. A lot of churches are only reaching those who want to work on their life and make sure they have “health, wealth, and happiness.” Ouch. Some of you are already mad.
“Not my church, we don’t preach that prosperity Gospel.”
“We preach on better dieting, money habits, and outlook on life because it bridges the gap to the lost in the crowd.”
“Sure we do series about better finances, better daily lives, better overall life on earth, but those things are talked about in Scripture and people are really seeing change from these series.”
That’s awesome! I’m not saying you do, but I had to stop and think about all the churches I attended, even those I had thought about working at in the past, and do a self evaluation. How many times did those churches (and my current church) talk about how God desires a better ______ (fill in the blank with sex life, financial life, diet, lifestyle, etc) for His children. I’m not telling you what I found, because I want you to do that same evaluation.
Let’s hope it doesn’t look like the photo at the top. Let’s hope that our churches remember what really makes them relevant. This is why I titled the blog iRelevant. And misspelled it.
iRelevant is an ideal that came up recently when I was reading a few articles dealing with the Christian church’s future in America today. You see, the Church is about being relevant right now. I’m not saying each church individually, of course, but the universal church is about being relevant to spread the Gospel. We try to draw in the crowd through our worship, our various ministries, or, if you’re in youth ministry like me, your vast horde of junk food and soda.
Maybe you have seen that Facebook forward about “8 Reasons/10 Reasons Why Teenagers are Dropping Out of the Church,” and laughed about the description of pastors wearing skinny jeans and drinking lattés. I’ll admit, I did too…at first. But then I thought about what I have seen in my life as part of the church. I’m a Student Minister. So I get a lot of mail/e-mail/tweets/posts/articles/books about being relevant sent my way so that I’ll buy them, use them, or promote them. Which is awesome. The church should help itself out and spread the word. But as I thought about the reality of “The Relevant Church,” I realized something: the Gospel is irrelevant.
Before you try to lynch me, I don’t mean that in a negative way. The Gospel is central to my faith, my ministry, and to the church at large. But it’s irrelevant today in a church that is strictly “Relevant.” Why? Because being relevant to connect with people on their level is a ministry strategy, being relevant to be popular is pathetic. A lot of people in Christian culture have gotten these two confused and when that happens, the Gospel is made irrelevant because we try to dress it up to look like the rest of what’s out there, and it couldn’t be further from everything else out there. It stands alone. It is Jesus. It is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. The Gospel will never be relevant because it is completely timeless. No matter where culture takes us, the Gospel still applies. It will never grow old, or outdated.
So some churches have been caught up in the Relevant trend. Maybe they’ve gotten stuck in a pattern in their sermons that looks like a self-help bestseller. Maybe they bought one too many deep v-neck shirts (yea, like that’s even possible). Maybe they too have adopted the mantra: “Feed them whatever they want, and watch them grow.”
But despite it all, those churches are just buildings, and their people are part of the Universal Church. The Universal Church that is about grace, second chances, a God whose obedience on the cross forever outlasts and outpaces our disobedience as His children. So I close with two questions:
Is the Gospel what makes your church relevant in your community?
Where is the line between cultural relevance and just talking to people about what they want to hear?