Relevant: A Thought   

A must read article by Elder Pastor Saul Garcia

After a few years of pastoring a pastor may become frustrated. Because they have not seen the congregational growth they want to see for their church. Recognizing they have tried various things that seemed would add growth to their church; but not seeing the growth, the pastor begins to wonder, “If their church is relevant?” What does it mean to be relevant? Is relevancy good or bad?

The Word of God transcends the ages, nations, cultures, and ethnicities; there is not a time or a people to whom the Word of God is not relevant. The Church is the voice of God. The Church is the living presence of God. What the Church says and how it lives is relevant. Or is it? Many think the Church is not relevant, that it has had its heyday. Secular society is quick to shout that the Church is no longer relevant. The disturbing thing is that there are churches that are not relevant. However, many churches are relevant. So then is relevance important?

I believe the church should be relevant, but how should it be relevant? I do not want to be splitting hairs, but I guess I will be. There is a definition of the word relevant, and there is how relevant is used practically. Is being relevant always good? Is there a time when being relevant is not good? Should churches become relevant? Can a church be relevant without being relevant?

What we must consider is, what is it a church must do to meet the needs of the people. What defines the church, the Gospel it preaches, or the staging atmosphere that is presented. I have mentioned the word definition several times in connection with the word relevant. I cannot go any further without defining the word relevant.

The Webster Dictionary, says it means “having significant and demonstrative bearing on the matter at hand”, Cambridge Dictionary says “connected or suitable for a particular purpose” Oxford Dictionary says “the fact of being valuable and useful to people in their lives and work” Lexicon “closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered.” Though I have quoted from four dictionaries and looked at several other dictionaries, I am not sure that these definitions have made clear what relevance is.

Let me see if I can define relevance in a way a church might use the word relevant. When a church realizes or believes it is no longer connecting with its congregation or new visitors; they may consider their church as not being relevant. The church may come to believe that certain things that exist, or that are taking place could be making their church irrelevant. These things could be anything, for example: the leadership is too old, the sanctuary deemed antiquated, the music, the dress code, etc. When a church no longer sees itself as relevant, the church will do, and implement what they believe will make them relevant.

The idea is, we either, stay irrelevant and let the congregation wane and ultimately become a tombstone or we must move toward a solution. A pastor that sees their church as no longer connecting will have to decide what things they must do to become relevant to their community.

So then, that is where the pastor must seek God as to what does relevance mean. Who will define relevance to the pastor, Jehovah, or the god of secularism? I believe every pastor will immediately say, “God will define relevance for me, God will direct our footsteps!” Though that is the right answer. It, nevertheless, is a tough pastoral decision. Economics may be causing the pastor to rethink their  methods, numerical growth may be declining, the church has plateaued, and there is a lack of excitement in the services, all these things are symptoms of an anemic church, and are weighing heavy on a pastor’s shoulders

In the pastor’s search, the pastor will be seeking information about what works, what is in, and what is trendy. The pastor may be looking and listening to big and successful churches for guidance, which is not necessarily wrong. In the process, there may be little attention given to what the Spirit of God is saying. Can modernization, and cultural acceptance ever be too much? Could a church become so relevant that it has lost the true Gospel message. I believe it can.

What must we do, we are not to fall into what I would call a secular relevance trap? Have an ear to hear but know what to hear. Your ear is up for grabs the world’s voices are circling your ear to infiltrate and influence your mind.

Some voices are Pluralism (all paths lead to God, all religions equally valid), Relativism (what is true for one person is not necessarily true for another, that person has their own truth—truth is relative); Tolerance (accepting the beliefs and/or practices of another that differ from your own). Liberalism (freedom from tradition and authority). When seeking to become relevant the theological, moral, and practical issues must come into consideration

With all the clamoring of voices, we must listen intently to the One that called you. What does He have to say? Scripture says, “This is the word of the Lord” (Zech. 4:6), sometimes we say a verse so much that it becomes like a cliché we know what it means, but sometimes I think we forget the divine impact God’s word should have on our lives. In this verse the angel wants Zerubbabel to learn something, to understand something. When science, technology, and relevance seem to be the popular cultural terms of the day. I believe God wants us to remember the power of God.

The angel says to Zerubbabel “Don’t you know what this means?” he said “NO”, then the angel explains to Zerubbabel he is talking about the power of God, he says “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord…”

It is only the power of God that will build our churches, it is only God that saves a soul and enriches a life. God has no need of the help of man. Relevance, and technology, and all other things have their place if used wisely, but they are not enough. We can upgrade our church and make use of technology, paint our church a certain color, replace the Cross with lights; one thing you must remember is these things are fads, those lights, colors, pulpits, etc., etc. will become outdated.

However, the power lays in “This is the word of the Lord” and “Thus says the Lord.” If you preach the uncompromising word of God, you will be relevant. If you are looking to be relevant, in the sense of methods be discerning. May your church reflect the life of Christ. Staying relevant in ministry means keeping your eyes on the Cross, if you deviate, veer just a bit you will take your church off course. Victory Outreach we must adhere to “Thus says the Lord” if we don’t, we will be living by “Thus says the World.”