Tag: relevancy

We the people. We the problem.

If you want rock star status. If you want accolades. In Christianity you only need to throw “religion” under the bus, or its close cousin fundamentalism. (Ironically, I’ll be posting about fundamentalism this week.) We love to bash religion. Sometimes we couch this as arguing against “false” religion. Sigh. We need to stop it.

Today’s favorite mode of discourse is the strawman. We hide, we couch, we equate, we consensus build, we allude. We don’t call things for what they are. Doing such is often viewed as mean or unloving. More to the point, we’re afraid we may be called worse than religious we’d be called fundamentalist. What do we do? We couch a real issue of right & wrong under a word and we attack that vague concept. How nobel of us.

We love Jesus because the love word is attached to him. I’m reminded of what a professor once said: “People say Jesus is a loving lamb, but one day they will be surprised when the lamb roars.” Jesus called out what was right and what was wrong. He did it graciously, with humor, and at times direct and in your face. Jesus, and John (remember that guy who’s task was to get people ready for Jesus) called people to repent. Jesus pointed, exhorted, taught and pleaded with people to connect with God the Father.

Jesus loves the church. Jesus died for the church. Jesus’ bride is the church. There are legalistic churches that need to repent, doctrinally inept churches that need to repent, non serving churches that need to repent, etc. We need to remember, Jesus loves the church. Our tone in critiquing the church or local churches could use refinement. Every church has issues. It’s time to spur one another on to good deeds, and let the Holy Spirit be the Holy Spirit.

We the people…
Religion isn’t the problem. We the people are the problem. Religion is made of people like you and I. Now comes the fun topic: Friends, we are depraved. Apart from grace and the Spirit’s work in our lives, we’re in trouble. Am I saying there is a lack of grace and a lack of leaning on the Spirit today? Yes. Religion started no war, people did. Blaming religion is like blaming guns for killing people. Both are only as good as the people behind them.

The bottom line:
Promote Jesus. Bashing religion may seem authentic and mainstream, it isn’t. We’re lost and apart from Jesus we’ll remain lost. People act based on what they believe. What we have is a theology problem not a religion problem. Rather than inauthentic apologizing or religion bashing, “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”


Relevant, defined by the Oxford American Dictionary, means closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand. If there is ever a battle in any ministry, it is relevancy! The key issue is that to be relevant means to change to match or be appropriate to the matter at hand. You cannot remain relevant and have no change. To keep relevant is to keep changing. Experiences in my life often get me to ponder what exactly the battle for relevancy is.

The battle of relevancy is keeping our mission as the driving force of our ministry.
What too often happens in ministry is that program drives the ministry and not the mission. (For those who like things defined, a program is simply what we do. To have no program is a program in and of itself.) Both the refusal to change (stubbornness) or the fear of being irrelevant (restlessness) are examples of the program driving the ministry. Change for change’s sake is not relevancy any more than maintaining traditions is faithfulness. In both cases the driving force is not the mission.

Relevancy is faithfulness to the mission!
As situations, opportunities, or just plain life occur, so will the need for change. The question that should drive change is: Are we fulfilling our mission to the fullest of our ability?  If the mission is what drives the ministry there will be times when a good program must go for a better one. If the mission is what drives the ministry there will be times when everyone else is changing, but we must maintain what we are doing. In the battle of relevancy, we rejoice when the answer is to keep doing what we are doing, and we roll up our sleeves with eagerness when the answer is a call to change. Faithfulness to our mission is demonstrated when we constantly live out our mission in our ministry. Relevancy is lost when the goal is relevancy or when change never happens. In both cases the program drives the ministry: ‘We gotta keep current.’ ‘If it was good enough for Paul.’ Both are ill. But when God gives us a mission, life happens. We ask for the mountains to conquer. And if we see a more effective way of doing things, we celebrate what God did with the former, and we act in faith with the new changes ahead.

Halls of Fame…
The real tradition of a church is God’s Word, and the specific mission that God has called a particular church too. Programs will change if a church is relevant. But, what God’s Word teaches, and the mission God calls a church to should not. It is very easy to begin equating our programs with or as theology. Such is false. Programs serve the the function of living out what God’s Word says and what the church’s mission is. As the meaning of God’s Word is specific, the application is often broad. As we better understand God by studying His Word (theology), it should be readily apparent the need to change ourselves and our churches to match up with who Christ is (application). Churches must never become ‘museums.’ In our communities churches must become ‘halls of fame’ of God’s Grace. For in times past, today and in the future, the church must proclaim the immeasurable greatness of who God is. They must inspire anew those who are seeking to become like Christ while eagerly expecting His return. Halls of fame celebrate and respect the past, while at the same time inspire and build anticipation of what is to come. And, while the actual game changes very little (all analogies break down at some point) how new generations of players engage in the ‘game’ keep it fresh, alive and exciting. God’s Word never changes, nor our mission. But, with a never changing foundation begs the question: What’s next?