The other day my good friend Bonnie sent me a link about relevance. It was a good article about how some churches have watered down or compromised their message to be more “relevant.” It seems like that is the popular thing to do. The thing that I realized is that watering down the message doesn’t make you more relevant.
As a guy getting ready to launch a church in Connecticut this conversation is very close to me. I want to be hip and rad. I want people to like me and like what I say. But ultimately that has nothing to do with being relevant!
The problem seems to be that people think that being relevant means doing things that make people like you. Not so.
Imagine that you are driving down the road at 65 miles per hour and a police pulls you over and tells you that the speed limit is 25. Does this make you like him and the law more? No, of course not. Is it relevant to you? Yes.
On the other hand imagine that he pulls you over and begins searching your car for illegal immigrants. Is this relevant? Hopefully not.
According to Noah Webster’s website the word relevance means: relation to the matter at hand; practical.
Relevance means that the information is practical and relates to the situation. Jesus was undoubtedly the MOST relevant teacher that ever walked the face of this rock. Did he try to simply impress people with a magic show? No of course not. He knew how to relate to the common man. He made his teachings practical.
Being relevant is NOT about not offending people. It is also not about lights and moving pictures. It is not even about being “cool.”
Relevance is about being practical.
The biggest issue unchurched people have is usually not the hot topic issues that we love to bloviate about. They just simply say that church didn’t seem to relate to them. It was out of reach. It wasn’t practical.
They are struggling with debt but church is about angels and saints. Their marriage is on the rocks but all they heard was something about Jesus handing out fish sandwiches.
Jesus was a master of making things relate to real people. Tax collectors. Fishermen. Stone workers. Common folk.
I believe that this doesn’t just relate to churches but it also relates to you and me. Do I relate to those around me that are far from God? If faith comes up in conversation am I able to bring out practical applications that relates to what the person is facing?
Does my conversation make God’s Word seem real and practical? Or is it just pie-in-the-sky babbling?
I make no apologies for wanting to be relevant. As Christ-followers we need to present God’s message in an accessible way. If we are not relevant then we are irrelevant.
What do irrelevant people accomplish? Not very much.