There is a question floating around the spiritual airwaves these days. As a fourth generation preacher, I must admit I have a lot of things about my ministry style that may be characterized as “old school”. I actually do altar calls. Despite my best efforts I have a “preaching voice”. I do not use the phrase “seeker friendly”. It may seem as if I am taking a jab at those who have a different approach than I do. I am not. I try every day to use the things that have been given to me to make sure that I am being as effective for God as I can in every way possible.
Now…on to that question. The question is, “Is the church relevant in the world we live in”. It is an interesting question I must admit. Growing up in a denomination that was anything but forward thinking, I saw countless opportunities slip away to reach hungry people with the gospel. It was truly heartbreaking. Especially in light of the fact that my aforementioned denomination, once a thriving organization, has decreased in size by nearly 50% in the last 20 years. Could our culture’s fascination with presentation diminish the effectiveness of older styles of ministry? On the surface the answer would appear to be yes. Many young leaders and pastors around the world are building mega-churches based on everyday-life teachings, multiple convenient locations, cool multi-media, interactive websites, great music, dramas, coffee bars, and small groups. All of which are great ideas in reaching people.
My concern is this. If Christians concern ourselves with being relevant to the world around us, we may miss a very important question that must be instilled by Christians to the world around us. Is my life relevant to God? Isaiah 49:1 says: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. That one scripture indicates a life that was created with intentionality. I hope people can feel that question burning in their heart after they spend time with people of faith. What Paul did at Mars Hill makes me weep when I think about it. Not because he was such a brilliant strategist, as many would suggest, but because he loved people so much that he wanted that question to resonate in their hearts. Is my life relevant to God? I have no doubt that this question also burned in the heart of King Agrippa as Paul passionately shared his testimony with a heart of love. King Agrippa even stated that he was almost persuaded to become a Christian.
Paul and Silas (and friends) were certainly known as “these who have turned the world upside down”, but was it their impeccable methodology that yielded this unforgettable moniker or was it lives wrought in prayer and commitment to the Cause?
Never let it be said of me that I am not using the era I live in to spread the gospel to every corner of the earth while there is time but, never let me rely on stylistics over substance when living my life for God. I’m 36. I want to be relevant. I just want to make sure I’m relevant to Him first.