If you look around the church world today, the new buzz word is "relevant." Christians active in church building, music and leadership are all talking about being "relevant."
First of all, this term carries a different connotation than its true meaning. If you talk to Christians about being "relevant" they'll tell you all of this stuff about using video, how wearing suits are unnecessary, you HAVE to have a website and a blog and some really creative signage, using cool lights and having a great band, etc. So when I leave the conversation or the seminar, I automatically see being "relevant" as being "cool." So quickly, my mind goes to "I need to make stuff cool around here." But, can I really be relevant without all of that stuff?
Here's how the dictionary defines relevant:
rel·e·vant - adj. Having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand.
So does lighting give me a "connection with the matter at hand?" For the church, is the matter at hand marketing or the hearts of men and women? Don't get me wrong - WE NEED MARKETING! The church has to find a way to cut through the cluttered noise that American culture is today, so I know we need marketing. Not minimizing that one bit. But what I'm not doing is over stating its need. We talk the talk of marketing and get people in the doors with our cool signs and clever marketing campaigns - but then what? People are in the door but have we made a bearing on the matter at hand? We've been seen as "nontraditional" but are we touching their hearts for the cause of Christ?
If to be relevant means to be cool, I don't want any part of it! If I want to be cool, I'd throw parties with half naked women and distribute free alcohol and drugs. I'd be "cool." But I want more than that - I want to influence! I want to encourage and create change!
Usually, when people or movements that are about CHANGE being their journey - they are COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT! For Martin Luther to leave the Catholic church, that was not relevant. When the great evangelists of the world came, they were not relevant. Abraham was in a polythiestic society and he began to believe in a monotheistic God, he was irrelevant. Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the walls of destroyed and hopeless city that was once an enemy to the government he served, he was irrelevant. Jesus came to fulfill the law and offer grace and love and to bring salvation in a time of strict adherance to the law and obedience to the religious leaders. He was irrelevant. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted to use non-violent protests to fight against violence and force used against people of color, he was irrelevant.
People who lead widespread change are not relevant. Relevance doesn't create impact. Relevance gives you market share. Relevance give you publicity. Relevance gives you popularity. Trailblazers aren't relevant. Trailblazers create change. The end result of what they do creates relevance. Relevance is merely the byproduct of a great change. Cheese is a byproduct of milk that comes from cows. If i were to own a farm, I wouldn't want to own cheese or even milk - I would want to own COWS! I wouldn't want to own the byproduct, I would want to own the thing that makes it. My goal isn't relevance, my goal is change. Relevance is just trying to catch up to the change. I'd rather create than catch up.
Agree? Disagree? post a comment.