Almost every day of my life, I’m checking out Christian blogs, connecting with Christian people, networking on Christian sites, researching Christian topics, and blogging on the same. It should be no surprise that “relevance” is a huge topic and has been for, oh, about two-thousand years (circa the time that the NT church was established). The topic is very interesting to me. Relevance is a big deal. It’s a big deal for Sharefaith. Depending on how you look at it, it is one of the most important things that the church can be doing today. Unfortunately, what I’ve found is that for most of the church today, this “relevance” is too small.
Take one random example. One church relevance guru suggests promoting your church with branded Ketchup bottles. “Don’t completely disregard the concept of personalized bottles of condiment,” he encourages. Or, if you’re not into sauces, maybe M&Ms will do for you. Yes, you can create personalized M&Ms with your own church logo, name, or initials on them. I’m not against ketchup at all. I have, in all honesty, a penchant for peanut M&Ms. But is this the best way to do “church relevance?” Isn’t there something deeper, bigger, broader, more relevant, perhaps than just M&Ms and ketchup?
There is nothing inherently wrong with a lot of lights on your stage, a coffee shop in the lobby, an über-hip name like “Element Church,” and a worship leader that has frosted tips. The whole point of Sharefaith, after all is to develop media for the modern church, media which we encourage you to use. However, too many churches mistake “relevance” for greater similitude to the culture. Is this really the way that it was meant to be?
Relevance is not so much what we do as what we are. The church is inherently relevant because of what it is–the Body of Christ. The church is intended by God to exist, to thrive, and to grow wherever it is, regardless of the economic status, the political climate, or the identity of the American Idol winner. The church is relevance. It is relevant because God is alive. It is relevant because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. It is relevant because the Holy Spirit is active in believers. It is relevant because Christians are being sanctified. It is relevant because God has promised that His Word will not return void. It is relevant because God in His sovereignty knows the end from the beginning, and He has a perfect plan for this world–and for His bride, the Church.
So, is relevance really about becoming more like the culture so we can reach that culture? Or might this more-like-the-culture slant on “relevance” simply be a snare for the church to lost its distinctive identity in the morass of cultural emptiness? Whose relevance are we seeking? God’s or the culture’s?
A statement like “relevance is not so much what we do as what we are” can be misleading. A church cannot be, unless that church does. So are we back to Ketchup bottles, and Coldplay tunes blasting on the PA system before the service starts? Not exactly. Although this blog entry doesn’t deal with the practical manifestations of relevance, it is important to iterate that true relevance is not about the church’s cultural accumulation as it is the church’s appropriation of Christlikeness. Be biblical–100% biblical–in all you do. In so doing, you will be appropriately relevant in the way that the church ought to be.
Sharefaith takes relevance very seriously. It’s what we do. I think you’ll find that our strategy of relevance is a bit more powerful than branded M&Ms. We want to have a part in your ministry of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in today’s world. Here’s how you can get started with us.