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Relevance or Irreverence?

November 25, 2008

One of the reasons that my husband and I left our previous church was due to the notion of Relevance. If you were to do a Yahoo search of “church relevance”, you would end up with a list of websites that advertise primarily two things: 1.) How to make your church relevant through marketing, design and ministry or 2.) Churches that advertise just how relevant they are.

When a church claims to be relevant, have you ever wondered what it is that they are making relevant, how they are making things relevant, or who they are relevant for?

Most churches who claim in big letters to be relevant, they are saying that they are relevant to the 20 and 30-somethings. They play modern music, the pastor dresses in jeans, and perhaps there is even a café where they serve Starbucks. Maybe the relevance stops there, or maybe they make things even more culturally relevant by catering to a generation who believes in no moral absolutes by refusing to mention the “S” word…you know, “sin”.

Did you ever notice that by making itself relevant to one target group, the church makes itself irrelevant to all the other groups (ie, the 40+ crowd)? Isn’t the church supposed to be relevant to all ages, generations, races, genders, etc?

Have you ever wondered how one church can claim to be more relevant than another church while still claiming to preach the same Gospel?

Let me make it clear that I have no problem with leveraging today’s technology and having a more modern service. I have no problem with clever advertising to draw people to the church, as long as it is Christ-like.

Here is my problem: our former pastor (who for the sake of anonymity I will call “Pastor Bob”) was obsessed with “leveraging culture”. By that he meant that today’s culture should permeate everything that we do in the church. All of his sermon series were titled after TV Shows and Movies. And yes, he did a series on Desperate Housewives and even on Rock of Love. (If you are unfamiliar with either of those shows, then God bless you!)

Pastor Bob has a myspace page (he doesn’t like Facebook because it “stifles his creativity”). On Pastor Bob’s myspace you will find tributes to bands such as Megadeath, Metallica, and Nickelback. The song on his profile, frequently changes, but is always talking about sex, drugs or violence. If you were to look at his profile, you would never guess that he was a Christian, let alone a pastor.

We were trying to get the youth group to understand the meaning of being “in the world and not of it”. And we felt like we were constantly fighting an uphill battle because we were teaching them to focus no on this world, but on the next; while Pastor Bob was teaching them to focus on this world. When we asked him about it, he said that he was just being “relevant”.

So here is my question, at what point does “relevance” become irreverence?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Snickelfritz permalink
    November 25, 2008 4:33 pm

    Sounds like this is a guy who struggles with self-image and the need to be ‘cool’ to those who consider themselves as such. You’re probably better off not fighting a losing battle if the board and congregation had no problem with this guy being like that.

    I’m not sure when they decided that God’s word wasn’t relevant anymore, or decided they needed to deconstruct and reconstruct the Bible itself (post modern movement, anyone?), but if you stick to solid Biblical teaching God will bless that.

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