Relevance is a hot word, especially in the church. We want to be relevant, but do we really know what that means and looks like in everyday life and ministry?
Relevancy isn’t the worship pastor showing his tattoo on stage. Relevance isn’t serving fair-trade coffee in your lobby. Relevance isn’t showing the latest popular movie clip during a sermon. True spiritual relevance is seeing God in the matters at hand. Seeing God in my life. Is it possible to create a church environment where people truly experience God all the time? Is it possible for church to be known as more in touch than out of touch? Is it possible for the church to become known as the most relevant place to go on Sunday?
My answer? Absolutely YES! But it’s not what we do in the church that makes us relevant. It’s God who IS relevant. His message doesn’t change. His truth doesn’t change. His character doesn’t change. In fact, one of the things I often say as I pour into others is, “There’s one thing God can’t do: break promises.” To do so goes against his character. He is consistent. We might think we see inconsistencies, because we don’t see how all the details fit together, but that’s not God’s faultiness; it’s ours.
God is relevant without exception. He is in all matters at hand, whether we see, understand, and acknowledge him or not. When we seek to know God and trust his guidance and provision, we will lead (and follow) in relevance because of his insight, not our own creativity. We can come up with all kinds of ideas for how to make God’s Word “relevant” in the church, when what we’re really doing is identifying trends and filtering our understanding of how to teach and apply God’s Word through those trends. We often take a backwards approach. Instead of starting with the trends just because we see them as relevant, we need to start with God’s Word, which is always relevant, and filter everything else through it.
That means knowing God.
That means trusting God.
That means responding in obedience.
That means being willing, even excited, to change.
That means digging in and staying put when God says.
That means the good idea you had for the upcoming worship service, community service day, or churchwide study might be tossed out the window. But it also means that God might lead you to use that exact good idea. The difference is in where (and with whom) you start. The very best we can be when we start with ourselves and our own preferences is good. But when we start, journey, and end with God throughout the process, it’ll be great. It’s all about who God is and not our own efforts.
He must become greater, and I must become less important. (John 3:30)
And just in case you think I’m saying because God’s Word never changes, we don’t need to change…ourselves, our relationships, or our church practices…nothing could be further from the truth. If you’ve stuck your feet in concrete and refuse to move, you’re not responding to the truth of God’s Word. Sure, it never changes–because God never changes–but God’s Word always changes you.
Faith isn’t about trends. It’s about relevance.
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