what does church look like? part five

September 14, 2004

I wonder why church’s like to keep calling themselves relevant. I see church websites or promo pieces all the time that describe how their message is relevant. I think the messsage of the church has to be more than relevant. To be relevant is a step down from what God has called the church to be. To be relevant makes it sound as if we want to tell people something that can somehow contribute to their life right now. Instead, isn’t the role of the church to redefine for people what life is. That seems to me to be a far greater purpose than to simply tell someone something that will be relevant to them when they get out of bed on Monday morning.

Sadly, I think the need for church to describe itself as relevant is because we’ve lost touch with both the culture and God’s purpose for the church in our world. At least when we describe ourselves as relevant, perhaps we’ve gotten one of them right in that we have gotten in touch with the culture. But we can’t settle for that.

Ephesians 3:10-11 describes how the eternal purpose of the church is to continue the work of Jesus and make known the manifold wisdom of God. This passage goes on to describe how even the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms become aware of the manifold wisdom of God because of the church. On page 70 of Mere Discipleship, Lee camp desribes it this way:

The church, by its very presence, by its very faithfulness, stands as an omen, exists as a judgment upon “the world”, the peoples and institutions and powers and systems that continue to walk according to the old order of rebellion against God’s way.

That is to say, the church is God’s way of pointing out to this world that they are missing out on life if they are not doing it his way. As NT Wright and Switchfoot (and in that order, I hope) have pointed out, God is showing us a new way to be human through the church. This is so much greater than simply being relevant…let’s not settle.

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