Friday, December 30, 2005

Worshipping Relevance

Bob Kauflin at Worship Matters has another great post up, this one about the idol of relevance in our churches. A couple of key quotes:

"Our Lord attracted sinners because He was different. They drew near to Him because they felt that there was something different about Him. ...This idea that you are going to win people to the Christian faith by showing them that after all you are remarkably like them, is theologically and psychologically a profound blunder." (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers)

Jesus possessed an "essential difference" that people, both religious leaders and prostitutes, were aware of. That difference included a profound humility, an unshakeable joy, and a servant heart. Ultimately, it was a refusal to bow to the god of this world, and an unyielding commitment to love His Father and obey His will. (Jn. 2:24-25, 5:30)

“By our breathless chase after relevance without a matching commitment to faithfulness, we have become not only unfaithful but irrelevant...” (Os Guiness, Prophetic Untimeliness)
Go check out the whole post!


rebekah said...

amy, i wholeheartedly agree.

why does it seem that the church has turned away from this? i heard a friend/pastor make a comment the other day about needing to stay on top of things and to be "cutting edge." he said it a little in jest, but it made me think: is that what we are trying to be? cutting edge.

was jesus looked at by the world as "cutting edge?" it seems so backwards to me that we are trying to attract the world by being just like them. hmmm.

i have a lot of thoughts on this --maybe i should go back and read the blog you referenced...haven't done that yet.

good thoughts, amy.

Combs said...

Amy...while I'd like to agree with you, I simply can't. It's true that Christ came and presented something different, somthing that no one expected, but there were reasons he was different. First and formost is that the people didn't know what they were expecting. They wanted a concouring king, but what they needed was a Redeemer. The prophecies called for both, but the one is required befor they other.
Second, He was Christ. How different from everyone else around you can you get? God incarnate, the second adam, the son of Man, the one born without sin. I don't qualify for any of those titles. Yes, He came to be and live as a man; To feel, taste, touch, and understand what it means to be human, but he was and is still God.
So, different, of course, but because of that he talked in ways that the people would understand along with they ways that they wouldn't. His use of parables was common place for teachers of Christ day. The stories He told had characters that the people could respond to. In essence, they were relevent to the day and time. The truths are universal, but there are reasons no one understands what faith like a mustard seed means today.
I completly agree that we cannot idolize relevency. We can't and shouldn't idolize anything. But we cannot dismiss cultural relevence in the church as just another passing fad. We must simply remember that the message stays relevent no matter what decade it is, but our way of communicating that message can and, in my personal opinion, should change with in the cultural context. That includes the American context, not just overseas.
Of course, what it think was meant here was an extention of what we as christians are called too...and exemplary life, being above reproach. Which is different, from being cultrally relevent. You can be relevent without being steeped in social vices. In anycase, we really should make the seperation here. Just a few of my thoughts.

Amy said...

Interesting thoughts, Combs. Did you read the link to the original post? None of this was my thoughts--it was copied and pasted from the Worship Matters blog (one I think you would thoroughly enjoy).

I'd be very interested to see how the author, Bob Kauflin, would respond to your comments. I hope you'll post them on his site.

I think the key is balance. Like just about everything else in the Christian life. Whenever we go to one extreme or the other, we're in dangerous territory. In the original post, Kauflin didn't discount relevance altogether--he acknowledged that is is necessary to a degree.

I think you're absolutely right, we do have to "meet people where they are"--after all, that's exactly what God did in the Incarnation; He became one of us. But at the same time, I think a lot of the (post)modern church today goes TOO far in that direction, where relevance takes priority over faithfulness/holiness.

If you read the entire original post, you'll probably appreciate these quotes more in their context--I was just highlighting them here.