Summary: What does it really mean when we hear that today’s church must be relevant?
A Relevant Church
The other day I came home from work at the church a little earlier than usual. I went directly into the bedroom, sat down on the side of the bed, kicked off my shoes and out of habit, grabbed the remote control for the television.
Automatically I punched in 2 numbers that would bring in one of five Christian stations our cable service provides. As the picture became clearer, I punched in the numbers once again, thinking I had accidentally reached MTV or another station like it. I had not. The station was in fact, one of the five Christian networks, the program was a (Christian) youth ministry.
My heart sank as the camera began to pan the band. The lead singer screamed unrecognizable lyrics into the microphone, while jerking his head at a break neck speed and jumping as high as he could. All the members of the group were covered with today’s trendy tattoos and the shirtless lead guitar player bounced around the stage showing off his newly pierced nipples.
The show wasn’t over yet. The camera then aimed towards the audience, not surprisingly, there was no worship or praise. Hands were raised though, but not in adoration to the King of Kings. The crowd’s hands were raised passing a teenage girl over their heads through the audience.
I’m sorry, but the God of the Bible was no where around this demonstration of worldliness.
A Deadly Deception
"The Church must become relevant!" This seems to be the battle cry of many ministries today, particularly youth ministries.
A popular Gospel singer has a program on our local Atlanta Christian station. During her program she introduced a local Christian Rap artist. In the introduction she began to upbraid all the pastors who disliked Rap music as a medium of ministry to Christian youth. The battle cry came forth. "If we are going to win the youth we have to become relevant. So get over it"!
A famous Evangelist’s son was interviewed several years ago on the Larry King Show. After years of living a life away from the Lord, he is now in ministry himself. Wearing a short sleeved shirt, you could not help but notice that both of his arms were covered in tattoos. Larry King also noticed and asked him if he had received them while he was living away from God. Some, he confided were reminders of his past, but others he referred to as his "pastoral tattoos". They were the ones he had received since rededicating his life.
Again the battle cry. "If we are going to win the world we need to be relevant."
I find a severe problem in their interpretation of the definition for relevant.
What they are really saying is that when the world sees a Christian, they must see something that they can relate to or identify with in order to want to follow Christ.
Therefore, if it is our intention to win the world, we must dress like the world, we must mark and pierce our bodies like the world, we must compromise our anointed music so it sounds like the world’s. So that the world can relate to us and not feel uncomfortable or their lifestyles threatened by us, we should be more like them. This is not being relevant, this is being spiritually ridiculous.
At best it is a demonstration of areas of our heart that have not been totally surrendered to Jesus Christ. They are not identifying with the Gospel, they are identifying with the worldly presentation, and missing the Gospel.
My wife is one of the most humble, and compassionate people I have ever met. Her life, through Christ, is totally given to ministering to people of all backgrounds.
What should I do, if, one day she would tell me that God had given her a burden for the prostitutes of Atlanta and that He had moved on her to begin a ministry to reach them for Christ?
Should I buy her a mini-skirt, tank-top and a wig? Maybe a tattoo on her shoulder or leg. Should I put her out on a street corner so the prostitutes would find her relevant and then they would be more likely to hear the Gospel message?
No, not in this lifetime! The prostitute would not see Jesus, only one of their own.
The same is true in what far too many youth ministries are attempting to accomplish with their worldliness rather than holiness.
I can hear the arguments now. "Pastor, God is a God that looks at the inside, not the outside!" Very true, no argument from me there. The problem is, what we have on the inside will always be reflected on the outside.
How can the world see Jesus in our tattoos? Scripture tells us, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:28)