The importance of relevance
To state that relevance is the major downfall of the church right now borders on the ludicrous. Churches do not die because of a lack of relating well to the world. Churches die because of a lack of relating to God. God convicts those He will and sends them to the churches He will. It is true that there are problems with relevance and the church. But to state that relevance is the number one problem or to indicate that a church that sings hymns and preaches exegetically cannot be relevant at the same time is to deny the history of the church. Revival has always started within the church and spread outwards. It is only when the children of God refuse to allow sin to be their master and give themselves wholeheartedly and without exception to their God does God allow a mighty work to happen within their midst. This work then spreads out from the church and infects the neighboring community. The result is that many come to the Lord who previously dwelt in the darkness. But revival always follows that pattern. The church gets in line, the Lord rewards the church, and the community is blessed by that reward.
Consider this as well: "There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him." (John 1:9-11) If we can say that the world did not know Christ because He was not like it was, what do we say about the church or Christian that the world knows? The world will recognize its own.
There are those who do not relate well when sharing the gospel. This is more of an error in training than a problem with the gospel message. If we need to garnish the gospel message with flowers and flash, then we are acknowledging that the gospel is not powerful enough to convict and change.
Christ will draw all men to Himself. It is when we deny this simple fact, that we start to rely on man-made solutions for assistance. Did God give us a brain and creativity? Of course! But we shouldn't lean on our own understanding, but in everything we should seek the Lord. Sorry, I'm getting off the point of relevance. Relevance is important in that it reminds us that we need to share the gospel message in a way that is understood by those in the culture. But we do not have to pander to the culture. We are not selling snake oil. We are leading others to the bread of life. When it comes to the gospel, relevance is a side issue. People do not attend church because of its lack of relevance, no matter how much they may think that is the issue. Their lack of church attendance is a symptom of a bigger issue. Their real issue is that they do not want to submit to the authority of God in their lives. Everything else is secondary.
Relevance is not the issue. If it was an issue, the church would not have grown as it did. Their is nothing relevant about a bunch of nuts having a church service in their houses, sharing their material goods communally, and being persecuted for their faith. Relevance did not matter then and it does not matter now. We are all human. We all sin and we all need Jesus Christ to forgive us our sins. That is the basic human problem, no matter how we try to hide behind our excuses.
Relevance is not the answer. "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." (John 15:18-19) Relevance makes us that much less of a threat to the world. Christ was hated by the world because of how He acted in opposition to its ways.
Does this mean that I think we should all sing hymns, preach exegetically, observe a strictly liturgical worship service, and never have fun? Who's kidding whom? We've been given life in abundance. We have no option but to rejoice at all times. But the main point is that we do not have to be more like the world to attract men to Christ because Christ does a good enough job of that Himself.
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