Reeling in Relevance

In “Relevance Is a Tool, Not a Goal,” Lifeway’s Ed Stetzer gives cautions towards the church in focusing too much on relevance.  Some of the signals that your church may have an imbalance are:

  • If you talk about practical more than you talk about biblical.
  • If your approach makes you the hero not Jesus.
  • If attendance is a greater value than conversion.
  • If the cross gets less focus than the church.
  • If offending seekers is more important than telling the Gospel.

Of these characteristics, which ones do you believe your church is least likely to reflect?  Most likely to reflect?  Why and how can it be corrected?


~ by Dave Smith on April 10, 2009.

7 Responses to “Reeling in Relevance”

  1. i think i’d prefer a focus more on conversation than attendance or conversion.

    what’s Ed’s understanding of the Gospel? is it the good news about Jesus or is it the Kingdom of God or is it some combination of both? i think irrelevant churches more often offend seekers, not the other way around.

    that being said, i think there is too much emphasis on church being cool. relevant has become a buzzword. but it’s got some merit.

  2. Yea, definitely a buzzword these days. Let’s get missionally, cutting edge, holistically, collaboratively relevant!

    Not sure about Ed’s understanding of The Gospel, but it appears for the article he leans more towards a two-chapter description vs. four-chapter.

  3. I think what rubs me about “relevance” is that relevance can’t be contrived. Either you — as who you are as a person, culturally, socially, etc. — are relevant to a particular context, or you’re not.

    Let me us an analogy from something I saw happen at a shopping mall recently.

    A mom and daughter were out shopping, and at first glance, it looked like they would be shopping for the daughter. We saw them in a couple of the shops that Ash likes — clothes for 20 something’s, in other words.

    At Express, I happened to see the mother and daughter again, and the mother was trying on clothes in the fitting room. She walked out wearing clothes that could only have been designed to be worn at the club.

    This 40-50 year old woman looked ridiculous. It was obvious to everyone but her that something just didn’t fit. She was trying too hard to be something she wasn’t.

    Sometimes I feel like that about churches.

    There’s nothing wrong with traditional — if that’s who you are. And there’s nothing more correct about contemporary — if that’s who you are.

    I just wish more churches would be who they are instead of trying to be something they are not in hopes of becoming “relevant” because they just end up looking like a 50 year old in a mini-skirt.

  4. @ben good thoughts & i think your analogy is particularly compelling. however, i do wonder if there couldn’t be more effort by some to be more open to change & relevance. i know too many people who would take your analogy as giving them the right to dress garishly, with no care that their “comfortableness” may indeed push others away from joining them. in other words, i think we’ve got to approach this with some balance…don’t try to be something you’re not, but don’t use that as excuse to be self-centered or exclusive.

  5. Joel:

    I agree.

    Certainly there is room for openness; however, my only concern would be that such openness be a two-way street.

    As one who finds great value in the rich history and diversity of the church, I’m reluctant to ignore it in favor of current cultural trends — at least completely.

    My experience in American Evangelical Christianity has shown a strong preference for the contemporary — not that there’s anything wrong with contemporary. But, so many members of our generation won’t consider a church if they don’t have a contemporary service.

    I think that’s a shame.

    Yes, we need openness to change. But, we also need openness to the past, a posture of receptivity toward those who have come before us, because there is so much there to learn.

  6. amen.

  7. Not to mention that I think most CCM stinks 😛

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