Is the church relevant? Is my witness relevant? What does it mean to be relevant? Most likely if you asked 100 people what does it mean for the church to relevant you would get 100 different answers. At times it looks like the modern day church in the United States is trying to be so relevant to the culture it has actually become irrelevant. Likewise we can get so religious and strangled by our traditions we become irrelevant.
We often associate relevance by being in on the latest trend or somehow fitting into what is culturally popular. Living in Austin, TX this is something I consider often. In fact, right now Austin is in the middle of the SXSW conference and festival. People come from all over the world for the latest in music, film and technology. National trends are often set at this festival. Most likely at the technology conference you will find the next facebook. Twitter was actually launched at this conference in 2007.
Austin is a trendy city and honestly I really enjoy the flavor. There is amazing creativity here that at times can go off the deep end of the pool. Even off the deep end of the planet. But you have to admire the push to get out side of the envelope. I mean why just have vanilla ice cream when you can have chocolate chunk with Gobi berries.
To illustrate my point let’s talk about church slogans and names. Have you ever looked at church slogans. Seems like they have all been used. Replicated over and over again. Same thing with church names. Same name different building, different group, different city. Honestly, it gets real boring. Almost mind numbing. We serve the creator yet we just do the same thing over and over again. Every once in a while I hear something different that makes me pause.
Point being I think we could be a lot more creative with the outward package. In fact, I dare someone reading this to do something different. Something that is creative. Something from God that no one else ever thought to do. I bet God still has some ideas that have never entered the mind of man.
But we cannot stop with just the outward. God is so much bigger than culture. Through time He has watched thousands of cultures, trends, religions and beliefs come and go. He has watched empires rise and fall. There is nothing that He has not already thought of… He is timeless and saw it all before it ever happened. He does not change with the latest trend. He is what He has always been.
As I mentioned we should be more creative with the package. But to be truly relevant things have to go deeper than our outward packages. There are churches that have great wrapping. They are very creative in their approach which I love. But when you get close you realize there is not much inside the package. I think many people have been disappointed with what they find in churches. They come looking for God. But when they open the nice shiny package it is empty. Can we really blame them for being uninterested.
To be relevant we need God’s power and presence operating in our midst. We need substance. Substance cannot be manufactured or created on a computer then put into a nice Powerpoint slide show. Substance can only be found in our encounters with God. While our creativity might attract people to take a look. It will not change a person’s life. It will not heal, deliver or transform them. It will not soften a hard heart or bring light into deep darkness. It will not bring freedom and forgiveness of sin. It will not satisfy that deep longing in a heart to be loved. Only God can bring these things. These things are what make the church relevant to this world. The kingdom of God and His power are always relevant. If we walk in it we will be relevantly relevant. Get my drift.
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