As I was growing up, the Christian circles I was in didn’t care much about cultural relevance. I attended a very conservative Christian school that was not cutting edge (this is just an opinion, but please know I value the school highly because it was where I surrendered my life to Christ and later to the call to ministry). The church I attended was more on the liberal side and was very liturgical/traditional. My first 6 years of vocational ministry were not focused on cultural relevance. I was just glad to have a place to serve and wanted to learn all I could while obeying God’s call on my life.
In 2002, I was introduced to this cultural relevance, and I began to view church and ministry through a different lens. All of a sudden, my preaching had to be “relevant”. My song selections had to be “relevant”. Everything the church did could no longer represent its past. Every year, the church had to outdo the year before. I would like to think much was accomplished by that. Many people were awestruck by the methods of the church, but how many lives were transformed by the gospel? Am I saying churches should not have attractive ministries? No. The church should be its absolute best, but that level of excellence should be based on God’s standards rather than human standards. The bottom line – God defines relevance differently than we do.
Think with me for a minute. How relevant were the prophets of old by today’s definition? They were declaring words straight from God. Those in the Old Testament heard His voice audibly. They declared things that were insane. Even John the Baptist looked crazy and had a weird diet. No pastor search committee would choose them. They all had a common message – REPENT!
Fast forward to now! This generation, even some who claim to be Bible-based Christians, want little to do with a message of repentance or one way to Heaven. I’m not implying that we must walk around in sackcloth and ashes, speaking King James English, and wearing first-century clothing. I am saying that God’s truth is timeless. I know you are tempted to “change things up a bit” or “make things more attractive for lost people”, but don’t miss the message that people need. The message of “Jesus saves” transcends culture. While many are out here trying to be cool, relevant, or whatever modern term you want to use, just be the person God called you to be and proclaim the message He called you to proclaim. Christianity goes against the grain. Let’s stop trying to make it something it’s not.