Relevance is a preaching buzz word. I was reminded of its potency by a recent article,(Chicago Tribune April 16), about worship services at Relevant Church in Tampa. It featured "Day 21 of Relevant's 30-day sex challenge, aimed at helping married couples rekindle that sensual spark .." Apparently, the teaching is traditionally biblical though provocative - that's why it captured the headlines! This sex series clearly fits with this church's main aim to be relevant, and 17,000 have visited their internet site since this series began.
Yet, I find the word "relevant" dangerous. Of course, Christian teaching should cover every part of life, and the Christian gospel should be heard in ways that current culture can understand. If it comes across as irrelevant then it's not God's news. Can you imagine a church calling itself: the Irrelevant Church?
But the question is: who is it relevant to? Relevant preaching may easily start at Point B, with us. It makes God relevant to our lives. It fits a god message into fallen human-sized living. But what really matters is what's relevant to God? Begin with Point A. When Isaiah goes to worship (Isa. 6) he is confronted by God's holy glory. When Jesus preaches, it's for repentance and faith and a journey in his kingdom (Mark 1:14). It fits renewed humans into God's new creation living (2 Cor 5:17). It turns human living upside down by spiritual transformation into kingdom living. Beginning with Point B misses God's transcendence.
I have a troubling vision. I cannot imagine a church calling itself "the Irrelevant Church," but I think its possible God might call some churches exactly that! Any thoughts out there?