Dear Church: Get Real, Not Relevant.

I got something to say…

…and gotta get it straight before the sun goes down.

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If the church wants to be a city on a hill, then why is it trying so hard to be relevant?

Not to suggest the church should be indifferent towards evangelism or complacent in discipling; I’m just sayin’ since when did the church become ashamed of the Gospel? Since when did she start making it about you…and your receptivity to truth?

‘Cause truth is: the church was never meant to be culturally relevant or well-received, but contextually real and eagerly given.¹

For what we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know and understand the wonderful things God has given us.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:12 (AMP)

 “[So I have intended] to come to you, in order that I may reap harvest among you…both to the wise and to the foolish. I am eager to preach the gospel to you…for I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” ~ Romans 1:13-16 (ESV)

Granted, most of you agree; however, in a time when church gets commission, but not Gospel…where truth is seen as content only worth its reach, it shouldn’t surprise us why many struggle to get God since what’s being modeled to them is more marketable than relatable.

Thus, it’s worth asking: How do we conquer the divide (be it deception, segregation, warped ecclesiology, etc.) in a way that gets us back to fishing for men without the bait? 

To answer this, we must accept…

  1. Relatability and relevancy are two completely different thing (more on this in a future post; ’til then, note Jesus’ interaction with outcasts (Luke 15, 1 Corinthians 5, Matthew 21, Mark 5, John 4).
  2. The world isn’t looking for church to be relevant; it’s desperate for something real, radical and revolutionary.
  3. When we’re reaching out, embracing in, and loving like Jesus, we never have to attract people to the Kingdom because it’s already there in front of them.

Remember the church’s call is to draw near to the lost like God, not draw the lost to find God.

Sure, our church may be in the midst of a powerful sermon series with catchy taglines to promote. But at the end of the day, what the world really wants is the reality of grace abounding as people love the way they know how.

‘Til then, I charge the church to get real about her entitled expectations. ‘Cause honestly, whether or not we’re in favor of a church’s peripherals (worship style, tech incorporation, service flow) or demographics (diversity), shouldn’t distract us from what ultimately matters – people fearlessly living and loving like Jesus…who are willing to resonate truth rather than make it relevant.

Remember Jesus didn’t die for you so you could be you; He died so we could be of same mind and heart so those lost and afflicted could join in. He didn’t die so you could be convinced how special you are; He died so you could tell others why they are.  He didn’t die so you could be served; He died so you wouldn’t have to worry whether or not you are.

And that, my friends, is what the Gospel is all about:  serving those deserving, giving to the living, bringing unity to community, telling not selling…I could go on.

Maybe you’re sitting there discouraged wishing things could turn around. If so, I want to encourage you tonight: while it may seem you gotta get your life in order to make a difference, you can make a difference in order to make a life.

Yeah, you may think you have nothing to offer, you make think your faith isn’t ‘attractable’, but given the Word says it’s who you are over what you have (1 Peter 2:9, Galatians 3:27-28), you never have to worry about having something to lose and nothing to give.

As for the church, I also encourage you: whether you’re pitching a product, promoting a series, or marketing a vision, never forget…

  1. The ‘me’ in ‘follow me’ (Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17) is not about you.
  2. We’re called to make disciple-makers, not gain followers.
  3. Millennials don’t want your relevancy; they want your authenticity.

After all, when we “present a ravishing vision of a loving and holy God”, we not only capture their attention, but their hearts as well.²

tenor

Selah.



Footnotes

  1. Vaters, Karl (2016, March 30). “Forget Being Culturally Relevant.” Christianity Today.
  2. Dyck, Drew. (2017). “Millennials Don’t Need a Hipper Pastor, They Need a Bigger God”). The Aquila Report.

Cover photo creds: Pinterest 

3 Ways to Overcome Loneliness

Have you ever felt ‘home’ locationally yet far from it relationally…

…secure in the journey, but perhaps insecure in community?

No question, it’s an awkward emotional dichotomy…to feel in love where you’re at yet estranged at the same time.

Perhaps you’ve wondered what do when you feel like you’re not connecting or what to do when you feel God isn’t honoring your obedience with the right relationships.

If that’s you, then heed my words…

…’cause truth is: I’ve been there…

…and in some ways, I’m still there.

And I’m sure for many of you reading this…you can say the same.

With that said, here are three ways to rightfully cope with the contradiction.

1)      Live and breathe God’s wholeness. 

No doubt, God is enough. The question is: do you honestly believe it?

Consider Jeremiah…a prophet whose calling meant to be alone, as evidenced by his directive not to marry, go to weddings or funerals, be in the presence of feasters and merrymakers, etc.

When we study Jeremiah’s narrative, it shouldn’t surprise us to find him often discouraged and depressed. After all, Jeremiah was entirely human…and to be without friends is one of life’s greatest challenges. But though Jeremiah carried certain “love deficits”, this didn’t keep him from finding satisfaction in God, as noted by his tendency to open prayer with “sovereign Lord” and conclude it with a reference to His steadfast love and/or power. Though Jeremiah lived without companionship, God was able to use his singleness and isolation to fulfill His purposes1 through him in ways that couldn’t have happened had he shared dependence.

1352897081As for us, there may be seasons when God temporarily detaches us to cultivate greater dependence on Him, as He did with Jeremiah. But while these seasons may be arduous, we can still find contentment in knowing God always has our best in mind and always sees the beginning from the end.

Hence, it makes perfect sense to receive God’s wholeness since it not only helps us cope with our deficiencies, but provides spiritual nourishment to keep going…all the while, renewing our trust in His providence.

2)      Pray the Word over your location. 

Let’s be honest: It’s easier to pray for people you know than those you don’t, right?

…especially considering we live in a compartmentalized culture where our concept of the world is essentially our concept of ‘our world’.

However, let’s say God repositions you in a foreign place or season. Would the change be enough to diminish your prayer life or would you stay persistent regardless?

While prayer can certainly benefit from sound company, truth is: the tempo of our prayer life should not be dictated by our social life2 or lack thereof.

Why? ‘Cause at the end of the day, it’s God who orchestrates our connectedness!

Thus, if we’re feeling dissatisfied or desolate, we should feel compelled to turn to God without hesitation and seek his direction, considering if anything is in the way, it’s likely a stronghold of man.

So next time you find yourself disappointed by the hardness of your heart and/or surroundings, pray the Word over your location…and choose to make intercession your default as opposed to withdrawal.

Again, it may not be easy, but you can, at least, bank on finding fuel even when you’re running on empty.

3)      Focus on opportunities to serve.

As mentioned before, we all want to belong…and find our place.

However, though the desire itself makes sense, the problem is often how and where it’s prioritized.

For instance, if the desire is overly prioritized, then we risk engaging community as a means to an end, where on the flip side, if the desire is not prioritized enough, we risk relationship being a nonchalant concept, dependent on chance rather than intention.

But if we truly want to bridge relationships organically, why not focus on opportunities to serve and invite God into the process?

Seriously…it’s not like we have anything to lose yielding to the Spirit’s leading.

And if you think you got to have friends before you can find your “place,” consider how God prepared the way in Scripture time and time again (i.e. God frequently prepped the territory before tending the inhabitants; see Deuteronomy 1-16, John 14:3).

In short, when it comes to seeking connection, the best approach is to let God be God by consecrating our relationships (present and future; real and hopeful), staying rooted in prayer, and seeking His desire to plant us in the best place possible…in the best way possible.

Footnotes

1) To fulfill his purpose, it was essential Jeremiah relied entirely on God, considering he may have a) integrated a fear of man into his prophecies or b) fallen away completely had he placed his own needs above God’s wants.

2) Or how we feel our social life is

Photo credits: https://blog.febc.org
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