Earlier this week, I jumped into an online discussion about what constitutes a ‘relevant’ church. It got me thinking about other conversations I’ve had over the years about what makes a church relevant.
Some say using contemporary music makes a church relevant; others say it’s fancy stage lighting. Still others will say it’s a casual atmosphere with lots of humour. The fact is that any of these can contribute toward promoting a relevant church, but so can traditional formality in the right circumstances.
There are many perspectives on this in our day, but I think there’s really only one answer, as far as the Bible is concerned, about what makes a church relevant.
Donald Grey Barnhouse, the great American pulpiteer of an earlier generation, once told the story of a native preacher in south China who was confronted by one of his listeners, who accused him of preaching nothing but Jesus for three days straight.
The preacher asked his accuser, “What did you eat for breakfast?”
“Rice,” was the answer.
“And for lunch?”
“And for supper?”
“What have you been eating for years?”
“Why do you eat rice every day? Why don’t you eat something else?” the preacher asked.
“Because it keeps me alive,” said the man.
The preacher replied, “That is the reason we preach Christ, nothing but Christ. He brings us life and he is our life, and we could not live without him.”
Churches are relevant when they teach apostolic truth, the good news of Jesus Christ. Whatever we couch it in, our job as the church is to centre our lives in worship and in service on the One without whom we could not live. That is what makes us relevant, because Jesus, and the message of the Scriptures, is eternally relevant.
“For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified” (1 Corinthians 2.2, NLT).
P.S.: I was given a surprise honour last week when my blog, passionatelyhis.com, was named as one of Canada’s top Christian blogs by Faithworks Centre on Prince Edward Island. There are many great blogs on this list, and you can read about them here.