Yes the word relevant has been overused and this topic may have been dissected from every which way of late but I hope to add to the conversation with this peace.
It is always exciting being part of an organization that is being talked about and respected in circles that are outside the inner circle. It was exciting to me to see Rick Warren do the talk with both Obama and McCain a couple weeks ago on national television. Warren having the ability to pull off the first joint meeting was amazing. That a pastor would have the influence to do this is great. Yes we may not want Rick Warren as the spokesman for the American church but if the general American people see him as someone credible than there can be hope for us.
When was the last time other than someone in our circle of Christian friends and church members cared what went on in our churches? When was the last time someone other than the Christians in the community came to church because of our clever church signs or read the religious pages of the newspapers? I am sure it occasionally happens but does this get the attention of the community as a whole.
Yes the churches have begun to do a lot more with national and worldwide crises. There has been some great press with hurricane Katrina, and other tragedies. Does the community care when we have Bible School, if we have a guest speaker, or having a church wide picnic? All of these are done in the name of evangelism. I feel I can speak as somewhat of an expert on this topic because I have been to hundreds of these events. The vast majority of these do not attract anyone other Christians. Why? Is it because we are doing events that we enjoy not what the community as a whole cares about? Do we even know what would be relevant to people who are not like us?
I have heard many ministries and churches who want to reach Valpo University. I always ask what are you going to do? Start a Bible study, offer to pick up college kids in vans, put up fliers in the union, or have a Christian radio show at the station. Nothing wrong with any of these ideas, it will attract the Christians. In order to reach anyone who is either a dechurched or unchurched student these ideas are probably not going to work. What if the plan was to deliver pizza to every dorm room with a person from the church delivering it saying “hey we are from such and such church and we wanted you to know we cared about you, here is is our email address and if you have anything you need please contact us.” Would this cost money? Yes, would it be worth it, yes if we are trying to reach the unchurched or dechurched.
Going back to my neighbors who I have enjoyed spending time with, what do they do on Sunday mornings? Mow their lawns. Why do they do this on Sunday mornings? Is it because this is the only time they can do it because they work 6 days a week to support their families? If they are like us their schedules are just as crazy as the rest of us and they have their times maxed out. If I expect them to come to church how can I lighten their load? Can I volunteer to watch their kids, or mow their lawns?
I believe we are in the middle of relevance we have huge potential of being relevant but it is going to work and sacrifice on our part. Spirituality doesn’t always mean sitting in our houses and churches praying and reading our Bible.