There have been studies done every couple years to determine the issues for the church. Although, we in leadership roles in the church have a pretty good idea on the major issues facing our church, it is always good to test those assumptions and to consider and evaluate identified concerns that may not be on our radar.
Last year, Lifeway surveyed over 1,300 ministry leaders to compile a list of the ten greatest issues facing the church in the future. I would like to address four of them in the coming weeks.
The first one is Relevance. Throughout the centuries, and even into this one, Christians seemed more formal, boring, naive, and ignorant than everyone else. The power of God to overwhelm the human soul with grace and peace was being undermined through tradition, complacency and insulation. So, it made sense that changes needed to be made if the church was to grow and thrive.
The big question was and is,“how do we make the church more relevant for today’s world?” We see this question get answered in many ways: from youth pastors using video games to woo and evangelize teenagers, to church buildings with Starbucks, to building less theological structures, and churches creating online social networks. Most people equate church relevancy today with images of trendy music, light shows and projection screens. But, it begs a question. Since we have been doing this for sometime now, how long before trendy music and smoke and lights becomes boring? How long before we are trying so hard to be new and different that we stop bringing about relevant music and messages that enlighten and convict the culture, and just start mimicking the culture.
It’s Sunday night at Woodland’s Church and Lead Pastor Kerry Shook puts his iPhone in his pocket and tells the people in the auditorium to pull out their cell phones. Kerry tells the congregation they can start Tweeting.They are asked to tweet their thoughts, reflections and questions on the message as it unfolds onstage. Kerry is doing this to make the church more interactive, draw in new faces and appeal to younger demographics. The church believes everybody should be bale to raise their hands and ask a question even if is on Twitter. It is about being relevant. (My reference of Woodland is an example of a church trying to be relevant. In no way am I speaking negatively about the church or this practice.)
Relevancy can also be camouflaged in modern consumerism. In a world where everything is new from computers and technology to clothing styles, we think of being relevant in terms of newness. Do we have the latest and greatest,state of the art, super-sized stuff at our church? Are we guilty of trying to keep up with the status quo in the church? In other words, is relevancy, a reflection of what goes on in our culture? And again, where do we draw the line?
We seek to be relevant for one reason and one reason alone. Like the early Church that struggled with many challenges and not only survived but flourished and grew, we can hope and pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our church – that the Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom to create the environments that win people to Jesus Christ. That is our church’s mission in our contemporary society.