Friday, July 2, 2010

A thought on relevance

You probably remember my saying that I used to work in a church.  Working in a church is a special kind of hell (read heaven).  I absolutely loved my job, my co-workers, my kids, the building, everything.  Even the custodians were awesome!  This post isn't really about working in a church.

Once I remember having a conversation with my boss about preaching and teaching.  Our senior pastor had a habit of picking a new Christian book to preach out of that was based on a biblical passage rather than just preaching straight through Scripture.  All of this is fine, except people started to realize that our sermons month after month were based on something by Chuck Colson or Rick Warren rather than St. Paul or Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.  This presented a problem for those of us on staff, especially in ministry.

My boss commented once that what people, especially people who are struggling, really want (read need) to hear is the Bible.  They don't want gimmicks.  They don't want bestsellers.  They want to hear God's words, not another author who has an opinion.  This idea came back to me this afternoon, after we had returned from another beautiful, moving, wonderfully mundane Divine Liturgy.  Orthodoxy's main concern isn't relevance in the modern understanding of the word.

As a youth pastor I was always concerned with being relevant.  New technology, new movies, new music, new clothes, new new new new new new...  You get the point.  If it wasn't cutting edge, it wasn't relevant.  As long as the kids were shocked and amazed, it was relevant and we had truly communicated the Gospel to them.  What I've noticed about our weekly services is that they're incredibly Relevant without being at all relevant.  The question isn't how do we make this more accessible? but how do we adequately and accurately communicate the truth of the Gospel to every person who walks through these doors?  That to me says more about the love the Church should have for a fallen and dying world.

Ask yourself, am I telling people that Jesus loves them?  When they come to my church, do they understand what it's all about?  For a newcomer, the Liturgy can be very confusing and overwhelming.  We need to hear the message spelled out: God loves you so much He died for you, and He wants to make you into His image. This is the most Relevant message available.

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